The COVID pandemic has hit working women and women-owned businesses particularly hard. Women have lost close to six million jobs since the pandemic began, according to the Department of Labor. Fortunately, a new trend is emerging–women are starting their own businesses at an unprecedented rate.
At the height of the pandemic, Krissy Mashinsky, a former top executive at Urban Outfitters, Inc. brands, launched usastrong.IO, an online platform to curate, sell and verify products. Categories include women’s and men’s clothing, home decor, beauty, health & wellness, athleisure, accessories, food & pantry and launching this summer, wine & spirits, all made or grown in the USA. The site has grown swiftly with a staggering 70 percent of its sellers representing women-owned businesses. See all products and sellers here: www.usastrong.io.
Helping women-owned businesses thrive in the COVID era
Female founders are at the helm of many of the new businesses in recent years, according to research by American Express. Mashinsky herself is an example of this new phenomenon. Currently, women make up 40 percent of new business owners, according to a report in Forbes.
Mashinsky launched the site in October 2020, initially as an e-commerce site and branded usastrong.io casual clothing line. She had surveyed the toll the pandemic was taking – ravaging families, job losses and collapsed supply chains. As a result, she saw a need to support local business owners, bolster communities and create jobs.
There are now over 45,000 users nationwide and 1.5 million impressions. Mashinsky expects that number to grow exponentially as more women get bitten by the entrepreneurial bug, whether out of necessity or by choice.
“Every purchase has a cause and a reason,” said Mashinsky. The emphasis on entrepreneurship and on both locally-bought and verified made-in-America products appeals to women’s current values. “Every purchase is directly helping someone you know, and has an impact on helping someone.” Reports by Forbes and Harvard Business have noted women entrepreneurs are motivated to start their own businesses to accommodate family and community, as well as flexibility, reflecting the high value they place on both. These two motivations align with Mashinsky when she founded usastrong.IO and what she has learned from the sellers and buyers on the site.