Women Leading the Way: Celebrating Female Founded Brands in Retail

This International Women’s Day, Cymbio celebrates the women leading retail’s future.

We recognize the essential role women play as consumers and creators, driving trends and innovation in the industry. 

At Cymbio, we’re proud to embody the spirit of inclusivity with a workforce that has women in positions across aspects of our business . This commitment to gender equality and diversity fuels our dedication to supporting and empowering female-founded businesses.

We’re so fortunate to work alongside exceptional female founded brands, who’s owners exemplify the strength, vision, and dedication that women bring to the business world.

Here’s just a few of them….

Irina Ovrutsky, founder of Lola & the Boys

Meet Irina Ovrutsky, a Chicago-based powerhouse: a super mom, fashion enthusiast, and successful entrepreneur. Hailing from Europe, Irina has carved her path in the fashion industry, transitioning from modelling to becoming a celebrated fashion brand designer and owner. 

Driven by the inspiration Irina found in motherhood and fueled by the identified gap for stylish yet affordable children’s clothing, Irina established Lola & the Boys. Inspired by Irina’s daughter, this brand balances comfort with trendy designs to create unique pieces that resonate with parents and children. 

With a passion for addressing a specific need in the market and embracing her daughter’s unique perspective, Irina has carved her way into the fashion industry, leaving a lasting impression on the children’s clothing market. 


Women Leading the Way: Celebrating Female Founded Brands in Retail

Judith Ripka, founder of Ripka 

Judith Ripka, synonymous with luxurious and accessible fine jewelry, is a testament to the power of creativity, innovation, and embracing new frontiers. Ripkas’ entrepreneurial spirit shone through from the very beginning when she sold jewellery in her living room. 

After a while, her keen eye for marketing led her to post an ad in the New York Times inviting customers to transform their old pearls into new designs, establishing her as an expert in classic and modern jewellery.

Since the early 1990s, Ripka has been known as a trusted and relatable fashion figure thanks to her engaging personality and innovative approach to high-end jewellery.

Today, the Ripka brand thrives, offering diverse collections while staying true to its core values of quality, craftsmanship, and timeless elegance. 

Judith Ripka’s story highlights the power of creativity, persistence, and embracing new opportunities for women who want to get into the industry; she has built a global brand that continues to captivate jewellery lovers worldwide.


Jen Kelly and Becca Perren, founders of Pehr

For Jen Kelly and Becca Perren, a 30-year friendship blossomed into a thriving business venture. These two entrepreneurial moms combined their creativity and passion to build Pehr, one of North America’s fastest-growing children’s lifestyle brands.

Pehr captures the essence of childhood through unique designs, from comfy clothes to charming décor. Kelly and Becca’s business boasts an impressive retail presence, with partnerships with both domestic and international retailers alongside a thriving e-commerce platform. Pehr’s story inspires aspiring women, showcasing the power of combining passion and creativity to build a successful online business.


Linda Bennett, founder of L.K. Bennett  

Linda Bennett, the enterprising woman behind the L.K. Bennett brand, set out in 1990 to bridge the gap between designer luxury and high-street affordability. Her vision? To offer “a bit of Bond Street luxury to the High Street.”

Linda Bennett’s vision for “affordable luxury” footwear blossomed from a single London shop into L.K. Bennett, a global fashion house. Her signature blend of comfort and style resonated with a broad audience, leading to the expansion into ready-to-wear. Today, L.K. Bennett stands as a testament to her entrepreneurial spirit and commercial success.

Women Leading the Way: Celebrating Female Founded Brands in Retail

Ariane Goldman, founder of HATCH. 

Ariane founded HATCH  in 2011 after identifying a gap in the market for stylish and versatile maternity wear. Her brand focuses on chic, timeless pieces designed to be worn throughout pregnancy and beyond.

As a mother of two with diverse experience in the fashion retail industry, Ariane understood the transformative power of clothing during motherhood. She envisioned a journey where getting dressed could be simple and enjoyable, regardless of the changes a woman’s body undergoes. Her brand expanded to include Hatch Mama, a clean skincare line specifically addressing pregnancy and postpartum concerns—this dedication to supporting mothers beyond just fashion.

Besides being a businesswoman, Ariana leads a whole community of mothers looking for the delicate balance between family and business – and she exemplifies the model she preaches.


Meredithe Stuart-Smith, founder of Meri Meri

Meredithe Stuart-Smith, the creative force behind the globally recognized brand Meri Meri, has shaped the children’s party industry for over four decades. Her keen eye for trends, combined with a passion for creating magical moments, fueled Meri Meri’s evolution from a small team crafting greeting cards back in the day to a leading retailer of whimsical partyware. Through continuous innovation and a commitment to captivating families worldwide, Meredith’s success story exemplifies the power of combining creativity with a strong entrepreneurial spirit.

Cynthia Rowley, founder of Cynthia Rowley

Cynthia Rowley’s vibrant spirit infuses her namesake fashion brand, captivating audiences with “flirty” and “carefree” designs since the 80s. Beyond the runway, her signature boutiques and thriving online store have established her as a retail powerhouse; Cynthia’s passion extends beyond fashion. Her brand has blossomed to encompass handbags, jewellery, fragrances, and activewear, reflecting her diverse interests and love for an active lifestyle. This dedication to expanding her offerings without compromising her authentic style has cemented Cynthia Rowley as a successful and beloved brand in the retail world.

Women Leading the Way: Celebrating Female Founded Brands in Retail

Maria Frallicciardi and Alexandra Penso, founders of Elephantito

Elephantito has been a leading name in the high-end children’s market for nearly two decades, known for its elegant style and impeccable all-leather shoes. Founded in 2004, the brand is the brainchild of a dynamic duo: Maria Frallicciardi, the creative force behind the designs, and Alexandra Penso, who handles the business side with expertise in sales and finances.

Elephantito’s dedication to quality extends beyond design. In 2012, they opened a state-of-the-art shoe factory in Peru, ensuring exceptional craftsmanship and ethical practices. Their commitment to “Made in Peru” reflects the country’s renowned materials and skilled workers. Today, Elephantito’s beautiful clothing and shoes are available online and in over 130 stores across ten countries, showcasing their remarkable retail success and global reach.

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