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Brooklyn Has Highest Percentage of Women-Led Startups in the Nation

By Janet Upadhye | June 2, 2015 4:28pm
 Employees of Susty Party, which was founded by two women in Greenpoint.
Employees of Susty Party, which was founded by two women in Greenpoint.
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Susty Party

DUMBO — Brooklyn is the hottest place in the country for women business leaders.

The female entrepreneurial scene is bustling in the borough, with companies like Brooklyn Industries, founded in 1998 by artist Lexy Funk, and Etsy, run by CFO Kristina Salen, leading the way for smaller female-led startups.

A recent study by Crunchbase found that 28 percent of all Brooklyn startups that received initial funding between 2009 and 2014 had at least one female founder.

That's nearly twice the national average of 15 percent, and also outpaces other startup hotbeds like San Francisco (16 percent), Palo Alto (12 percent) and Seattle (17 percent). Las Vegas came in second with 26 percent, according to the study, which included 14,341 startups nationwide.

Other examples of women-led startups in Brooklyn include manufacturer Maker's Row, design firm Pensa, digital agency Huge, branding company Red Antler and active underwear designer Dear Kate.

The growth of female-founded companies in Brooklyn is due in large part to the city's creativity and openness, said Alexandria Sica, director of the DUMBO Improvement District.

"Companies of all shapes and sizes are welcome here, and talented women seem to be surrounded by other talented women — making it easier for them to collaborate and create," she said.

The large number of female business leaders in the borough also makes it easier to find support, explained Emily Doubilet, co-founder of green party supply company Susty Party.

She is a member of The Rose Colored Social Society, which boasts more than 15 female CEOs and meets once a month to discuss secrets to their success, "war stories" and problems faced by women in business.

"The group is for women who see the world as full of possibility," Doubilet said. "It's an incredible support group, both personally and professionally."

Doubilet founded her company with Brooklyn-based Harvard grad Jessica Holsey, with the two employing a team of creative, design-oriented women.

She called Brooklyn "the perfect backdrop" for her startup.

"Everywhere you look in Brooklyn," Doubilet said, "there are creative women making s--t happen."