Today is International Women’s Day, a truly important day to reflect on the progress made by women, to work toward an equal future, and to celebrate acts of courage made by women who have played an extraordinary role in the history of their countries and communities. Meet some of the powerful female CEOs in the retail and restaurant industry! Let’s begin.
Sally J. Smith, Former CEO & President of Buffalo Wild Wings
Sally J. Smith was born in South Dakota and graduated from the University of North Dakota in 1979. She spent 11 years at Dahlberg, Inc. as Chief Financial officer and was then hired by Buffalo Wild Wings in 1994. In 1996 she was promoted to President and Chief Executive Officer when the Buffalo Wild Wings chain only had 70 locations. While she was in office, the company grew to 1,175 locations as of February 2016.
Arianne Bennett, Co-founder & CEO of Amsterdam Falafelshop
Arianne Bennett was a restaurant server who then became a founder and Chief Executive Officer at Amsterdam Falafelshop. Bennett first opened Amsterdam Falafelshop with her husband in Washington DC, showcasing authentic flavors of Amsterdam to the city. As the company’s success continued to grow, it expanded to other areas, opening locations in Dallas and Boston.
Laura Rea Dickey, CEO of Dicky’s Barbecue Pit
Laura Rea Dickey graduated from Texas Christian University in 2001 and became the Chief Information Officer at Dickey’s Barbecue Restaurants, Inc. She was Chief Information Officer for eight years and became promoted to CEO in January 2017. She has worked in Marketing and Information Technology for over 15 years with an area of focus in business intelligence and aligning brand development with data insights. Thanks to Dickey, the company has become known for its modern technology and continues to excel in the latest and greatest.
Betsy Craig, Founder & CEO of MenuTrinfo
Betsy Craig has made a significant impact on the food industry and has been able to double the sales of the company every year. From being the Vice President of her local PTA middle school to successful CEO, MenuTrinfo started from a facebook message and has grown into a company. MenuTrinfo is dedicated to bettering the food-service industry and its customers and diners by providing two major services: certified nutritional information, food allergy and gluten-free identification and education. Alife threatening diagnosis led Betsy Craig to create MenuTrinfo. Back in October 2005, Craig was diagnosed with an autoimmune disease called Systematic Scleroderma, which can harden the skin and body tissues. She was given only 18 months to live but continues to fight, setting off on a journey to learn more about her health options. As she began receiving treatment, she also gave more thought to her own eating habits, which eventually led to her thinking about others.
Adenah Bayoh, Founder & CEO of Adenah Bayoh and Co.
Adenah began her career as an entrepreneur at an early age. After attending high school in Newark, New Jersey and putting herself through college, she got a job in banking and began purchasing multifamily homes as investments. Inspired by her grandmother, who owned a restaurant in Liberia, Adenah decided to use the profits generated from her real estate investments to open an IHOP in Irvington. Adenah Bayoh then became the founder and CEO of Adenah Bayoh and Co, which is the parent corporation that owns IHOP franchises in Newark, Paterson, and Irvington, New Jersey. The success of her flagship IHOP in Irvington has awarded her the success as the second largest employer in the Township. Adenah also recently launched Cornbread, her signature line of fast casual, farm-to-table, soul food restaurants.
Melanie Perkins, Founder & CEO of Canva
The Canva journey began back in 2007 when Melanie Perkins was studying at the University of Western Australia. Melanie taught students how to use programs such as InDesign and Photoshop programs that people found hard to learn and even harder to use. Melanie and Canva co-founder, Cliff Obrecht, decided to take out a loan and hire a tech team to build Fusion Books. With doing so, they learned how to sell, how to recruit, and how to build a business. After creating Fusion Books, they both knew they can do more, so they came up with the idea of Canva. Canva rapidly became popular, with more than 750,000 users in its first year. As of 2018, the company employs 200 people and has offices both in Australia and San Francisco.
Lauren Conrad, Founder & CEO of LC Lauren Conrad
Reality star-turned-entrepreneur, Lauren Conrad, has been busy since The Hills went off the air in 2010. She has written several books, launched a lifestyle blog, and created an empire. Her online store, The Little Market, is now in its 5th year and remains the closest to Conrad’s heart. The Little Market sells fair-trade goods from women artisans and entrepreneurs and features items from more than 40 groups in 17 countries, like Guatemala and Kenya.
Rebecca Minkoff, Founder & CEO of Rebecca Minkoff
Am industry leader in accessible luxury handbags, accessories, footwear and apparel, Rebecca Minkoff’s playful and edgy designs can be seen around the world on young women and celebrities alike. After developing a passion for design while in the costume department in high school, Rebecca Minkoff moved to New York City at only 18 years old to pursue her dream of becoming a fashion designer. In 2001, Rebecca designed a version of the “I Love New York” t-shirt as part of a five-piece capsule collection, which appeared on The Tonight Show and became an overnight sensation. After four years of designing statement-making handbags and accessories with her trademark leathers, studs, and edgy hardware, Rebecca returned to her roots of apparel design and introduced her first ready-to-wear collection in 2009. Today, Rebecca Minkoff is a global brand with a wide range of apparel, handbags, footwear, jewelry, and accessories.
Tory Burch, Founder & CEO of Tory Burch
Tory Burch is an American lifestyle brand that embodies the personal style and sensibility of its chairman, CEO, and designer, Tory Burch. Launched in February 2004, the collection includes ready-to-wear shoes, handbags, accessories, watches, home, and beauty products. Tory grew up on the outskirts of Philadelphia. Her parents were consummate entertainers, serving lunches on the poolside porch, all fretwork and white lattice, and always with fresh flowers on the table. Tory launched a small boutique in Nolita in 2004 after graduating with a degree in art history and working for designers Ralph Lauren, Vera Wang, and Narcisco Rodriguez. The energy and spirit of New York created a design vision that was uniquely hers. Over the years, the brand has grown into a global business with more than 200 boutiques from New York to Paris and Shanghai, as well as websites in North America, Europe, and Asia. And in 2015, Tory launched Tory Sport, a collection inspired by the grace and strength of athletes, balancing high-tech functional fabrics with a classic/retro vibe.