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American Entrepreneural Spirit: Ideas to Independence

by A. Montalbano on 06/14/17

Trailblazers of American business happened to stumble upon ideas to make life better.  Innovative thinkers never stop pushing forward.
But rarely do we find great reads about women contributors throughout the generations.  It so happens that they develop ideas far better when adversity is at its fullest.
In the heart of our nation were the founding fathers. But as far back as colonial America, women contributed to the development of business establishments. 

In 1718, while women were required to give up their property and rights to their husbands upon marriage, Pennsylvania legislation enacted a bill granting women to serve as feme sole trader.  This act allowed women to make sound business decisions in place of their husbands while at sea.  The legal authority to help a woman support herself and her children would keep her "from becoming a burden to the public".

Hannah H.T. Elliot, petitioned the court for sole feme trader after reporting her husband for abandonment and unable to support her household including children. Leaving her destitute and frequently borrowing from friends and relative, she was forced to open a trimming shop.  She was granted feme sole trader status whereby allowing her sole business operator along with retaining the profits.
Betsy Ross, along with her 1st husband, co-owned an upholstery business. Upon his death, having to raise children on her own for a while, she acquired his property and worked diligently making flags for Pennsylvania.  Marrying a third time, didn't stop her from continuing her skills of needlework.  The tale of the first American flag belongs to Betsy Ross.

Elizabeth Blackwell was ridiculed in medical school and ostracized when attempting a career in medicine.  In the midst of her struggle as a physician, she held strong.  In the mid 1800s, after watching a friend struggle with sickness due to embarrassment of visiting a male physician, co-founded a clinic for indigent women and children that would last over a century.

Josephine Cochrane couldn't help but wonder how to develop a better way to wash dishes. After finding much damaged china over the carelessness of her kitchen help, she discovered how water jets could blast powerful streams onto dishes if aligned in racks.  Her husband died while her design was formed and almost left her penniless.  She worked tirelessly pushing her invention but it changed the world forever. Her company evolved and changed hands after her death, to become better known today as Kitchen Aid. 

The inventor of a new fiber developed as Kevlar, known for bullet proof vests, building materials, tires, and fiber optic cable was awarded the National Medal of Technology and inducted in the National Inventors Hall of Fame in 1994. Stephanie Kwolek, a chemist at DuPont passionate and persistent, “I discovered over the years that I seem to see things that other people did not see. If things don’t work out I don’t just throw them out, I struggle over them, to try and see if there’s something there.”

Party plan marketing is owed to Brownie Wise, a single mother, who had a charm and a knack for a product sales model.  She took TupperWare not selling well in department store shelves and made into a household name. Earl Tupper hired her to head his company but later fired her after she received recognition for the TupperWare invention.

Throughout centuries, women have faced unpredictable challenges.  Whether from despair, pressure, or simply a solution to a persistent burden, the human mind is capable of innovative ideas.  How we get from idea to service or product starts with inspiration.   

For all those women who defied the status quo, we salute your independence!

Read more women and men entrepreneurial trailblazers...

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