Women’s History Month dates back to 1980, when Molly Murphy MacGregor, Mary Ruthsdotter, Maria Cuevas, Paula Hammett, and Bette Morgan founded the National Women’s History Project (NWHP) in California to broadcast women’s historical achievements. In 1981, thanks to the NWHP’s efforts, Congress declared the week of March 7 “Women’s History Week.” In 1987, the designation was expanded to the entire month of March.

A core reason the group, now the National Women’s History Alliance, exists is to correct the historical exclusion of women and women’s achievements from history books. The stories of women’s achievements throughout history, including present day, are sources of strength and inspiration. We encourage you to support the women in the current Veterans in Residence cohort, including these consumer-facing businesses.

In recognition of Women's History Month, we are highlighting the Women entrepreneurs and small business owners in our current and past Veterans in Residence cohort. #womenshistorymonth


Grace Joy Reid grew up as an Army Brat and a Chaplain’s kid who began accompanying military chapel services regularly by the age of eleven while at Fort Riley, Kansas. She has been an accompanist for choirs, church services, instrumentalists, and an opera singer. Creating Music Joy offers original music composition and arrangement, music production, and virtual group piano lessons.

Grace Reid, Military Family Member
Veterans in Residence Cohort 21A – Washington D.C.


Carolina Hernandez was inspired to become a fashion designer by her childhood in Mexico, spent watching her mother and grandmothers sew clothing. After her time in the U.S. Navy, she decided to incorporate her military experiences with her passion for design creating the brand Veteran Couture in 2015. Her designs feature vibrant colors, diverse textures, unique embellishments, asymmetrical silhouettes, and fabric manipulation techniques that trick the eye.

Carolina Hernandez, Air Force Veteran
Veterans in Residence Cohort 21A – Washington D.C.


Sulh is a store created to offer herbal self-care beauty products. In Farsi, Sulh means ‘peace’ and in Arabic it means ‘resolution’ or ‘fixing.’ The foundation of Sulh is to heal, love, protect, and grow by returning to nature’s gifts with whole, organic, natural formulas that are intended to nourish our vessels and our souls.

Ariana Ferguson, US Army Veteran
Veterans in Residence Cohort 21A – San Francisco / Bay Area

Bestowed Essentials

While in the U.S. Navy, Callee discovered the benefits of natural skincare for her acne-prone skin. Unable to find products that met all her requirements as a zero-waste vegan, she decided to create her own. Her friends encouraged her to start selling her products and sales slowly increased. In 2017 Callee left the Navy and took her growing business on the road in a campervan. Less than four years after starting this business from the back of a van, they now have a warehouse, and products available in over 200 stores.

Callee Ackland, US Navy Veteran
Veterans in Residence Cohort 21A – Virtual Cohort

The Broom List

The Broom List is the first and only matchmaking firm dedicated to pairing educated, successful, marriage-minded, Black singles. The Broom List takes a personalized approach to matchmaking. Every client is meticulously vetted and screened through in-depth conversations and 50+ areas of compatibility to understand members at their core. They take a holistic approach to learning about members by utilizing a unique 360-degree evaluation process which includes a tour of member homes and interviews with a close friend or family member to gain additional insights.

Tennesha Wood, US Army Veteran
Veterans in Residence Cohort 21A – New York City

Flying Giant Productions

The team consists of a pair of directors of photography, editors, a part 107 certified drone pilot and a director. As a boutique production company, they have the flexibility to choose the best team per project and to give their clients scalable options. Their specialty is working with in-house marketing teams and agencies that know what they want to say, but they are also experienced collaborative teammates that can translate your message into a well-crafted story. 

Melanie McLean Brooks, US Air Force Veteran
Veterans in Residence Cohort 21A – Denver


JOSHICA BEAUTY was founded in 2015, in Los Angeles, by creator Joshica Kiah, after rediscovering her natural hair. She decided she was no longer going to hide her natural hair by wearing wigs and weaves but instead embracing what she had. JOSHICA BEAUTY celebrates black natural hair and clean beauty by offering haircare for afro textured natural hair and a selection of clean beauty products made with natural organic ingredients.

Joshica Kiah, Air Force Veteran
Veterans in Residence Cohort 21A – Washington D.C.

Paris Love Productivity Institute

Paris Love, CEO of the Paris Love Productivity Institute, is one of the country’s foremost organizational and productivity coaches. Love is a recovering adrenaline junkie. Yes, she jumps out of perfectly GOOD airplanes. She thrives on helping overextended professionals overcome the barriers that keep them dissatisfied, disorganized, and discontent in their life, business, or career.

Paris Love, US Army Veteran
Veterans in Residence Cohort 21A – Nashville


After 10 years in the Army and 10 years in ‘Corporate America,’ Beth was finally blessed with a healthy baby boy at the age of 40. The day her maternity leave ended, and she dropped her son off at daycare and her heart sank. She wanted to be there to witness his first steps, watch him try all his first foods, and teach him how to be a great human. A few days later she was inspired to create Busy Baby Mat when she met a few friends and their babies for lunch. 

Beth Fynbo, US Army Veteran
Early Cohort Member – Minneapolis


In 1956, “Mutt” got the idea to make a sauce he could use for every meal. Mutt’s sauce was a multi-purpose specialty sauce, infusing sweet, tangy and a little bit of heat into each spoonful. Mutt never turned his sauce into a company and upon his passing he left the recipe to his granddaughter she decided to have it bottled, with his name and face…and share it with you.

Charlynda, Air Force Reserves
Veterans in Residence Cohort 21A – Columbus

Stories from Women Entrepreneurs in our community

Former Veterans in Residence Cohort Member: LeAnn Darland

Talea Beer Co., founded by Navy veteran LeAnn Darland and Tara Hankinson, is in the middle of changing this barrier. Talea plans to shift its production toward 60-pound kegs, called sixtels, to allow a broader range of people to apply for entry-level jobs and enter the pipeline.

Former Veterans in Residence Cohort Member: D’Shawn Russell

D’Shawn Russell is the owner of Southern Elegance Candle Company. They make southern-themed home fragrance products in Raeford, North Carolina. Southern Elegance is a community-focused brand that works in partnership with other local businesses; their wax, wicks, and containers are from suppliers in North Carolina.

Former Ambassador: Shaydi DeJesus

When a military child/spouse decides to start a biotech company in Texas, she uses all the resources available to her to help build a sustainable entrepreneurial community.

Former Veterans in Residence Cohort Member: Melissa Petak

When hospital administrator, mother, soldier, and entrepreneur Melissa Petak witnesses the ill effects of opioid addiction, she decides to draw on her military experience to fight the national opioid epidemic.



Women-Owned Businesses in the Military Community: Growing Against the Odds

According to the SBA, roughly 8.5 percent of veterans in the United States are women. At the same time, women own 15.2 percent of all veteran-owned businesses. In other words, women veterans start businesses at a rate that is nearly double their representation in the general veteran population.

Women Veteran-Owned Businesses Tripled in Number Between 2007 and 2012

In 2012, there were 384,574 veteran women-owned businesses, an increase of 295 percent (nearly triple) from 2007. The percent of veteran-owned businesses owned by women over the same period in time nearly quadrupled from 4.0 percent to 15.2 percent.