Almost half of the top 50 most successful self-made women live in California.
In 1968, Virginia Slims marketed a new cigarette to the emerging young professional woman. The jingle, in part, sang, “You’ve got your own cigarette now, baby/You’ve come a long, long way.” Almost 50 years later, another, more significant milestone: Successful, self-made women have their own Forbes ranking based on net worth. A minimum net worth of $250 million was the rankings benchmark.
Forbes has compiled its first-ever list of America’s top 50 most successful self-made women. The diverse list, the magazine notes, includes entrepreneurs, CEOs, entertainers, designers and even an author (Nora Roberts). Many are popularly known, while others “aren’t quite household names yet but may be on their way.”
Topping the list with a net worth of $4.5 billion is 31 year-old Elizabeth Holmes, the world’s youngest female billionaire. Holmes dropped out of Stanford to launch her pioneering blood testing firm Theranos in 2003.
“I started in a tiny basement, working by myself,” she recently told the graduating class at Pepperdine University. “Then we had a tiny office that was also a lab and could fit no more than six people in the room. And then it became a bigger office. We all kept working together. And over the entry to one of the buildings was a sign that read, 'Success is not a result of spontaneous combustion. You must set yourself on fire.' We code-named our product the Edison because we assumed we would have to fail 10,000 times to get it to work the 10,001st. And we did. We set ourselves on fire.”
Rounding out the top 10 are:
2. Diane Hendricks (Owner/chairperson, ABC Supply, $3.7 billion)
3. Doris Fisher (Co-founder, the Gap, $3.1 billion)
4. Jin Sook Chang (Co-founder, Forever 21, $3.1 billion)
5. Oprah Winfrey (Queen of all media, $3 billion)
6. Judy Faulkner (Founder/Chief Executive, Epic Systems, $2.6 billion)
7. Johnelle Hunt (Co-founder, J.B. Hunt Transport Services, $2.4 billion)
8, Judy Love (Chairman/CEO, Love’s Travel Stops and Country Stores, $2.4 billion)
9. Marian Ilitch (Co-founder Little Caesars Pizza, $2.2 billion)
10. Meg Whitman (CEO, Hewlett-Packard, $2.1 billion)
Almost half (20) of the top 50 self-made women live in California, while eight live in New York. Fifteen were born outside of the United States, Forbes notes.
Donald Liebenson writes news and features for Millionaire Corner. He has been published in the Chicago Tribune, The Chicago Sun-Times, The Los Angeles Times, Fiscal Times, Entertainment Weekly, Huffington Post, and other outlets. He has also served as a marketing writer for Chicago-based Questar Entertainment and distributor Baker & Taylor.
A graduate of the University of Southern California, he is married with a college-age son. He also writes extensively about entertainment.