The World’s Most Powerful Female Entrepreneurs, 2013
Rosalia Mera (No. 66)
Rosalia Mera cofounded Inditex (the parent company of discount fashion retailer Zara) with ex-husband Amancio Ortega. Mera dropped out of school at age 11 to work as a seamstress, then helped her then-husband make dressing gowns and lingerie in their home. The couple has long-since divorced and Mera left Inditex but she retains a 5.1% stake in the $20.5 billion company.
Tory Burch (No. 69)
The billionaire Queen of the $200 ballet flat, the 2008 CFDA winner paid her dues working with designers Vera Wang, Ralph Lauren RL +1.35% and Narciso Rodriguez before launching her own brand out of her Manhattan apartment in 2004. Her self-titled lifestyle lines range from accessories to ready-to-wear, and benefited early from an endorsement by Oprah Winfrey in 2005.
Diane von Furstenberg (No. 74)
The Belgian-born von Furstenberg may have begun designing clothing in 1970 with $30K, but has since risen to the top of the industry, now wielding the power of the president of the trade association of the country’s top 350 designers.
Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw (No. 85)
India’s first biotech entrepreneur Kiran Mazumdar-Shaw founded Biocon in 1978 when she was 25 by partnering with an Irish firm to make industrial enzymes.
Weili Dai (No. 88)
Dai has the distinction of being the only woman co-founder of an American semiconductor company. The Chinese-born, U.S.-educated “geek” cofoundedMarvell Technology Group MRVL -0.09% in 1995 with her husband, Sehat Sutardja.
Sara Blakely (No. 90)
At 29 Blakely invested her entire life savings, $5,000, trying to come up with something flattering to wear under her white slacks. Six months later the one-time Disney World ride greeter and door-to-door fax machine salesperson found her new line of shaping underwear named one of Oprah Winfrey’s Favorite Things. Since then Blakely has taken Spanx from a one-product wonder sold out of her Atlanta apartment to a powerhouse with $250 million in annual revenues and net profit margins estimated at 20%.
J.K. Rowling (No. 93)
It was wizardry that transformed J.K. Rowling from a destitute single mother on welfare into a best-selling billionaire. Her adventures of teenage magician Harry Potter and his classmates at Hogwarts became a children’s literary sensation in 1998 with the U.S. publication of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone. It and the six subsequent books have now sold 500 million copies worldwide. A film franchise and theme parks have kept the profits rolling in, making J.K. Rowling far more than just an author by anyone’s measure.
Gisele Bundchen (No. 95)
The world’s most powerful supermodel is also a natural skincare entrepreneur. Her line, Sejaa, has reportedly been in ongoing negotiations with Shiseido for years without reaching terms.
Yang Lan (No. 100)
One of the most powerful women in Chinese media — and often called China’s Oprah — Lan cofounded Sun Media with her second husband, Hong Kong media mogul Bruno Wu. Their multiplatform empire spans TV, newspapers and magazines and the Web, and she is a leading television host who has interviewed Bill and Hillary Clinton and Kobe Bryant.