From left: Jaime Schmidt, Junea Rocha, Pat Welch, and Lynn Le

In October 2020, bleak numbers from the national Bureau of Labor Statistics showed 2.2 million women had left the workforce during the pandemic. One way to make up this lost ground is to look to other women, and Oregon has many creating their own ladders instead of climbing existing ones.

Take a look at Jaime Schmidt (above left), founder of Schmidt’s Deodorant. In seven years, she went from taking a craft class on how to make shampoo to selling her company to Unilever in a nine-figure deal. Now Schmidt is helping others do the same with her playbook Supermaker. A longtime Portlander who recently relocated to San Diego, she also created Color, a firm that invests in women- and BIPOC-owned businesses.

Brazil-born Junea Rocha (second from left)—cofounder of cheesy snack brand Brazi Bites, which now does around $25 million a year in revenue—also emphasizes the importance of lifting other women. In a blog series for Forbes, she credited Lisa Clark of Petunia’s Pies & Pastries for helping her get into Whole Foods and urged those who enjoy success to share connections and advice with others.

Support is key not just for those helming the business but for the whole team. Pat Welch (second from right), CEO of recruiting and staffing agency Boly:Welch, regularly hosts female business owners at her house for networking, and this year produced a free conversation series for her team and local business leaders.

Lynn Le (right), CEO of women’s boxing brand Society Nine, won an Oregon Entrepreneurs Network award last year for “resilience, adaptability, good teamwork, and gifted leadership.” All goals Le strives to hit, with this question always at the forefront of her mind: “How do I want to serve my team so that they can be the best and unlock their biggest potential as well as help build this great thing with me?”

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