I’ve been thinking about my life lately. About my education, my experience, and about the dreams and aspirations I have–in terms of work and my business. One thing I keep returning to is the fact that I want to have a business of my own someday. Something that I can fully pour my energy and time into, knowing that it’s completely my own. This is one of the reasons that I love what I’m doing with Stella & Dot so much! It’s giving me such a handle on what’s involved in building a business–the time, the energy, the motivation, the creativity, the thought processes involved, etc.
As I go about thinking of all that is involved, I often find that it’s so easy to allow myself to be plagued by doubt and questions. But at the same time, I’m finding that there are such stores of motivation and tenacity! I’m learning so much, just by diving in and plowing forward. I love that I don’t have to be an expert, and that I can learn from my mistakes–as well as from others who have gone before. We women are a smart, resourceful and stubborn bunch!
Just look at what some of us have accomplished over the years:
1. Stephanie Kwolek took a position at DuPont in 1946 so she could save enough money to go to medical school. In 1964, she was still there, researching how to turn polymers into extra strong synthetic fibers. She eventually developed a fiber that was ounce-for-ounce as strong as steel (the fiber is known as Kevlar). Kevlar is used to make skis, hiking and camping equipment, helmets, and most notably, bullet-proof vests.
3. In 1903, Mary Anderson received a patent for her development of the windshield wiper, which she developed after a trip to New York City in the winter. Within 10 years of receiving the patent, thousands of Americans owned a car with her invention.
4. Josephine Cochrane developed the dishwasher in 1886, after growing frustrated with her servants for breaking her heirloom china. Her company went on to become Whirlpool.
5. In 1871, Margaret Knight developed the square-bottom paper bag. Before this, paper bags were more like envelopes and not useful for carrying items until Knight developed the machine for cutting, folding and gluing the square bottoms to the bags.
6. Martha Coston helped develop the colored flare system for ships to communicate at night and sold it to the U. S. Navy in 1857.
7. Sarah Mather patented the submarine telescope and lamp in 1845.
8. Admiral Grace Murray Hopper is responsible for inventing the compiler, which translates English commands into computer code. She also oversaw the development of the Common Business-Oriented Language (COBOL), one of the first computer programming languages.
9. In 1958, Bette Nesmith Graham received a patent for developing Liquid Paper. Graham was the executive secretary for the chairman of the board at a Texas bank, and developed her “Mistake Out” using her blender, applied it with a fine watercolor brush, and quickly corrected her typing errors. Soon, the other secretaries were clamoring for the product, which Graham continued to produce in her kitchen. Graham was fired from her job for spending so much time distributing her product. But in her unemployment she was able to tweak her mixture, rename it and receive the patent for its development.
10. In 1939, Ruth Wakefield was credited with developing chocolate chip cookies. She was baking one kind of cookie that called for melted chocolate but she had run out of baker’s chocolate. So Ruth broke up a Nestle’s bar and threw the pieces in the batter expecting the chocolate to melt during the baking process. Instead, the chocolate held its shape. And the chocolate chip cookie was born. The cookies gained a fast reputation among travelers to Wakefield’s inn and restaurant so Nestle met with her to find out about the cookie. The began scoring their chocolate bars for easier breaking, and in 1939 began selling Nestle Toll House Real Semi-Sweet Chocolate Morsels, with Ruth Wakefield’s cookie recipe printed on the back of the package. In return, Ruth received free chocolate for life.
To read more about each of these inventions see this article.
And this is just a list of 10 of us! Think of all the many, many more!! There’s Madame Curie, Coco Chanel, my mom, Jessica Herrin, Oprah Winfrey, Jane Addams, Susan B. Anthony, Mary Kay Ash, Elizabeth Cady Stanton, Hillary Clinton, Michelle Obama, and you and me! Women from all walks of life and all sectors of society–fashion, politics, television, science, democracy, etc.–working and living and striving for what they believe in.
I am so grateful for the women who have come before me. Those strong women who crossed oceans, rolled up their sleeves, won the vote, raised kids, went to work, invented Liquid Paper, Kevlar and chocolate chip cookies, and who helped pave the way by doing it all with such style and grace!