Running a business or creating something that hasn’t ever been made are no easy feats, yet Black women continue to lead the way. According to Forbes, Black women have become the fast-growing group of entrepreneurs for several decades. Though running businesses on the side have for some become a means of filling in financial gaps due to ongoing pay inequality in the US, Black women have revolutionized industries and delivered consistent, culturally-relevant, and cool products for our everyday use.
Black women inventors have also played a huge role in several fields, laying the groundwork for future innovations and improvements. From gadgets to daily necessities to life changing procedures, Black women have been there.
From their business prowess, to pure ingenuity, here’s a look at 10 Black women entrepreneurs and inventors who totally changed the game.
Bea Dixon- Founder of the Honey Pot Co
The Honey Pot Co is an all-natural feminine hygiene product system that is “powered by herbs.” Bea Dixon launched the company in 2012, and is now selling in Target stores across the country.
Pinky Cole- Founder of Slutty Vegan
Pinky Cole has wowed customers since 2018 with her vegan creations. Her Slutty Vegan brand started as a food truck and quickly grew in popularity. Last fall, the Clark Atlanta University grad opened her third location.
Shontay Lundy- Founder of Black Girl Sunscreen
Shontay Lundy launched Black Girl Sunscreen in 2016 and, according to her Instagram is the only Black-owned sun care brand to be in two national retailers. The innovator’s product is designed to give Black people protection from harmful sun rays without leaving a white cast on our skin. Last year, Lundy scored a $1 million investment for her brand.
KJ Miller and Amanda Johnson- Founders of Mented Cosmetics
A shortened version of the word “pigmented,” co-founders KJ Miller and Amanda E. Johnson launched Mented Cosmetics to increase makeup options for Black people. The brand features vegan lipsticks and a foundation shade range that centers brown and dark-skinned makeup wearers. Mented Cosmetics is available in Target and Ulta Beauty stores.
Marie Van Brittan Brown- Inventor of CCTV home security system
Marie Van Brittan Brown was working as a nurse when she became inspired to create what became known as closed circuit TV home security system. She received a patent for her invention in 1969, three years after she created the device three years prior.
Dr. Patricia Bath- Inventor of Cataract Removal Surgery Procedure
Dr. Patricia Bath was a true trailblazer in her field. Not only was she the inventor of the probe that removed cataracts from the eyes, she was the also the first African American to complete a medical residency in ophthalmology. Posthumously, she may make history again as the first Black woman to be inducted into the National Inventor Hall of Fame.
Mary Beatrice Davidson Kenner- Inventor of the sanitary napkin belt
Mary Kenner was not only an ambitious entrepreneur, owning and operating several floral shops around Washington, D.C., she also created several inventions that changed the world. One of those inventions was the sanitary napkin belt which was the predecessor for the products available today.
The company that had originally expressed interest in her design backed out after they found out she was Black. Kenner worked for years to save enough money and got the patent herself in 1956. Despite the setbacks, she holds a total of five patents, the most of any Black woman. Kenner passed away in 2006.
Valerie Thomas- Inventor of the Illusion Transmitter
Dr. Valerie Thomas, a graduate of Morgan State University, is the inventor of illusion transmitting technology. Her work and leadership led to the development of Landsat technology which help revolutionized how scientists can study Earth from space.
Ellen Eglin- Clothes Wringer
Ellen Eglin is credited with inventing the mechanical clothes wringer, an early predecessor of the washing machine. She is said to have sold the rights to her invention to a white person in 1888 for $18 because she didn’t think white people would buy an invention made by a Black woman.
Maggie Walker- First Black Woman to Charter a bank and serve as its president
In 1903, Maggie Walker founded the St. Luke’s Penny Savings Bank, the first bank to be founded by a Black woman. Walker also worked as a teacher and philanthropist. A native of Richmond, Virginia, Walker was born to enslaved parents in 1864. According to WomensHistory.com, she continued working and leading in several organizations including the National Association of Colored Women and served as the Vice President of Richmond’s chapter of the NAACP. Walker’s bank expanded and included more than 50,000 members by 1924. Her bank survived the Great Depression and eventually consolidated with two other large banks and is still in operation today.
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