From a skin care guru to big tech executives, meet the newest additions to Forbes’ latest list of the country’s most successful women entrepreneurs, executives and entertainers.
Not even a worldwide pandemic stopped women entrepreneurs and executives from making their mark during the past year. Fifteen newcomers joined Forbes’ latest list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, with fortunes built in fintech, solar energy, online education and more.
The newcomers range in age from 32 to 75 and hail from 7 states. All are worth at least $225 million, the cutoff to make this year’s ranking. The best known are singer and investor Dolly Parton and supermodel-turned-entrepreneur Cindy Crawford. Others, like Caulipower founder Gail Becker, turned a home-cooked innovation into a buzzy company. Rising stock prices and timely IPOs helped parachute several others into the ranks for the first time.
Many of this year’s fresh faces are pioneers in industries that saw a rise in demand during the pandemic. Jacqueline Reses and Alyssa Henry both amassed their wealth through stakes in electronic payments company Square, which provides tools for small businesses by facilitating online and electronic payments. Rachel Carlson built her estimated $500 million fortune through Guild Education, which helps companies offer competitive education benefits to frontline employees.
And Figs cofounders and co-CEOs Trina Spear and Heather Hasson each amassed over $600 million fortunes selling fashionable and comfortable medical scrubs during a time when the spotlight on the importance of medical professionals shone brighter than ever.
Other newcomers were surprise successes, building their fortunes in industries that were hit particularly hard over the past year. Caryn Seidman-Becker got rich after buying a company out of bankruptcy and creating Clear Secure, the biometric security service used in airport security checkpoints and stadiums. Even though the pandemic upended the travel industry, Clear Secure went public in June in an IPO that valued the company at $4.5 billion. Country singer Dolly Parton released a new single, holiday album and starred in a Netflix film in a year when many in the entertainment industry took a step back from their work, but the biggest piece of her net worth is her stake in amusement park company Dollywood. That helped push her wealth up to an estimated $350 million.
Here are the 15 newcomers on Forbes’ 2021 list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women:
*Net worths are as of July 2, 2021
Net worth: $1.5 billion
The first-time billionaire started out as an options trader in Chicago, then cofounded options trading firm Peak6 with the man who later became her husband. They have since funneled the profits from trading into more than a dozen businesses. The star investment: Apex Clearing, which handles the back-end trading and technology for fintechs such as SoFi and Ally, is slated to go public in a SPAC merger that values the firm at $4.7 billion.
Net worth: $990 million
Source: Airport security
Seidman-Becker is chairman and CEO of Clear Secure, which helps people speed through security checkpoints using identification technology. A former hedge fund manager, she and a colleague bought Clear’s predecessor out of bankruptcy in 2010 for $5.9 million; it is now in 38 airports and 26 venues nationwide. She owns 20% of the $230 million (sales) company, which she took public in June.
Net worth: $980 million
Zatlyn cofounded web infrastructure and security company Cloudflare in 2009 and helped take it public a decade later. Today, the rm says it blocks 70 billion cyberthreats a day for more than 4 million customers. With the stock near record highs, Zatlyn, who owns 5% of the company, briefly became a billionaire in early July.
Net worth: $920 million
Reses left payments firm Square last year after five years leading Square Capital, its small-business loan division. During the pandemic, Square Capital facilitated $850 million in Paycheck Protection Program loans to 80,000 businesses across the country. Reses owns 0.4% of Square’s stock. Earlier in her career, she spent a decade working at private equity investor Apax Partners and also worked as chief development officer at Yahoo.
Pamela M. Lopker
Net worth: $725 million
Lopker founded software company QAD Inc. in 1979. She debuted on The Forbes 400 list 25 years ago as America’s richest self-made woman. A year later, she took her company public and soon fell out of the ranking. Since September 2020, QAD shares have doubled in value, and in June, private equity firm Thoma Bravo announced plans to acquire QAD Inc. for $2 billion, a 10% premium to its value.
Net worth: $625 million
Source: Healthcare apparel
After failing to find comfortable and stylish scrubs for a friend at a medical supply store, the former handbag designer set out to develop some herself. Founded in 2013 with Trina Spear, Figs saw its revenue more than double to $263 million in 2020 as its customers—essential workers—found themselves on the frontlines of the pandemic. “In the beginning, I did think, ‘If we keep doing this every single day, if we keep waking up and doing the work, little by little, this will be bigger than we think, if we just keep trying to tell our story, to keep celebrating healthcare professionals,” Hasson said. “And I do think we’re still just starting out. I still feel that way, every single day.” Hasson is co-CEO and owns 10% of Figs, which the duo took public in May.
Net worth: $600 million
SOURCE: Healthcare apparel
When Spear met Heather Hasson through a mutual friend in 2012, she wasn’t planning on leaving her successful asset-management job at Blackstone. But days later, she flew to Los Angeles to discuss Hasson’s idea for a fashion-focused, functional line of scrubs, and less than six months later, she liquidated her 401(k) to cofound the business. She is co-CEO of Figs, which went public in May. “Our decision to go public was really centered around putting our people, our healthcare professionals, on a pedestal,” Spear said. “This wasn’t really about revenue or scale, it was really about this community.”
Net worth: $555 million
After seven years as an executive at Amazon Web Services, the tech giant’s cloud services provider, Henry joined payments processor Square in 2014 and quickly rose to lead its Seller division. She has transformed the product from a piece of hardware—the ubiquitous “little white reader” many businesses use—into a system with software to help businesses manage payroll, loyalty programs and marketing.
Net worth: $500 million
Source: Online education
In the struggle to attract and retain frontline workers, companies like Chipotle and Walmart rely on Guild Education, which Carlson founded in 2015, to create benefit programs to help employees get free degrees. In its latest funding round this spring, the company’s valuation tripled to $3.75 billion. It was also a win for Guild’s more than 1,000 employees, all of whom own shares (half of them have stakes worth at least $100,000).
Net worth: $350 million
In a year when most of the music industry slowed down, the country singer and co-owner of amusement park Dollywood was busier than ever: She wrote a song inspired by her experience during the pandemic, released her first holiday album in 30 years and starred in a Netflix film, Christmas on the Square. Arguably her most important contribution: a $1 million donation that helped fund Moderna’s coronavirus vaccine research.
Net worth: $290 million
The Indian-born executive served as CEO and chair of PepsiCo for 12 years before stepping down as CEO in 2018 and chair in 2019; her fortune stems from stock she was granted while working there. During her tenure, she thwarted a bid to break up the company, nearly doubled sales to $65 billion and introduced healthier products and environmentally friendly practices. She joined Amazon’s board in 2019.
Net worth: $250 million
Source: Residential solar energy
Jurich cofounded residential solar pioneer Sunrun in 2007 at age 27 with Stanford business school classmate Ed Fenster. She is CEO and owns roughly 2% of Sunrun, which went public in 2015. The stock more than doubled in the past year due to soaring demand for solar panels. Her husband, Brad Murray, cofounded a cosmetics company that Unilever acquired in 2019.
Net worth: $245 million
Source: Specialty foods
The pioneer of the cauliflower pizza crust craze, Becker originally took to the kitchen to make gluten-free versions of her kids’ favorite foods after they were diagnosed with celiac disease. A longtime public relations executive, she founded Caulipower in 2016 and got early funding from venture firm Boulder Food Group. Caulipower has estimated revenue of $100 million, with products in 25,000 stores, including Walmart and Target.
Net worth: $230 million
Source: Construction, franchises
Alvarado has spent more than four decades in construction. Her Denver-based firm, Alvarado Construction, which she founded in 1976, led the building of the Denver Broncos’ Mile High Stadium and the Colorado Convention Center. She and her husband have funneled the profits into more than 250 fast-food franchises—mostly Taco Bells—in seven states. In 1991 she received a minority stake in MLB’s Colorado Rockies, whose Coors Field was the site of this year’s All-Star game.
Net worth: $225 million
After making her name as a supermodel during the 1980s and ’90s, when she appeared on more than 1,000 magazine covers and shilled for a number of brands including Revlon and Pepsi, Crawford decided to be the face of her own product. The model turned entrepreneur founded the anti-aging skin-care company Meaningful Beauty in 2004. The direct-to-consumer line generates more than $100 million in annual revenue, thanks in part to infomercial marketing and Crawford’s famous face. Crawford, who Forbes recently confirmed owns half the company, launched Meaningful Beauty hair care in June.