Most People Don’t Know The 10 Fearless Grandmas Who Started These Big Businesses

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Do you ever worry that you are no longer in your prime? Nonsense! Sure, you’re children are grown, and you are now a beloved grandma, but there is still plenty of time to achieve your dreams (should you be inspired to do something). Don’t believe me? Look to one (or all) of these 10 fearless grandmas who started some well-known and well-loved businesses:

1. Mary Kay Ash

Wikimedia Commons/LizaKoz

The most easy-to-recognize name on this list is Mary Kay Ash, the founder of Mary Kay Cosmetics. Frustrated that she wasn’t getting promotions because of her sex, Ash started her own company in 1963 to create opportunities for women to become successful entrepreneurs. The direct-selling beauty company has since grown into a global brand, and at the time of her death in 2001, Ash was worth $98M, with her company raking in $1.2 billion in sales with a sales force of more than 800,000 in dozens of countries. 

2. Frieda Rapoport Caplan

Frieda’s Branded Produce Facebook

Have you ever enjoyed a delicious kiwi? You have Grandma Frieda to thank for that! Nicknamed the “Kiwi Queen,” Frieda Caplan founded Frieda’s Inc. in 1962, introducing exotic fruits and vegetables, like the kiwi, to American consumers. As a mother and grandmother, Frieda revolutionized the produce industry in the United States, leaving a lasting impact on how Americans eat.

3. Gert Boyle

Wikimedia Commons/Oregon National Guard

They don’t call her “one tough mother” for nothing! The daughter of immigrants who fled Nazi Germany, Gert Boyle would become the president of her father’s Columbia Sportswear, later being named the chairwoman of the company’s board of directors. During her tenure (later in her life), she transformed the small company into a global powerhouse in the outdoor apparel and footwear industry.

4. Judy Wicks

Judy Wick Facebook

Is there anything that Judy Wicks can’t do? Billed as an “activist, entrepreneur, author, and speaker working to build a more compassionate, just, regenerative and locally-based economy,” Wicks is best known for founding the White Dog Café, an iconic farm-to-table restaurant in Philadelphia, in 1983. When she isn’t out advocating for local, organic, and sustainable food systems, Wicks can be found enjoying her family.

5. Claudia Sanders

Claudia Sanders Dinner House Facebook

What? You didn’t think Colonel Sanders came up with his special chicken recipe alone, did you? Colonel Harland Sanders’ wife, Claudia Sanders, co-founded the Kentucky Fried Chicken (KFC) empire alongside her husband and played a significant role in the company’s success by developing the recipes and helping to expand the business. Though she was not a grandmother when she founded the business, she later became one.

6. Doris Christopher

Pampered Chef Facebook

My favorite kitchen gadgets all come from the Pampered Chef, which was founded by the fabulous Doris Christopher in 1980. Today, The Pampered Chef – a direct sales company specializing in high-quality kitchen tools and products – is a household name, and Doris is a grandmother.

7. Bobbi Brown

Wikimedia Commons/The Heart Truth

Bobbi Brown, the renowned makeup artist and founder of Bobbi Brown Cosmetics, started her company in 1991. As a grandmother, she continued to be actively involved in the beauty industry, empowering women through makeup and skincare products, as well as authoring multiple books on beauty and lifestyle.

8. Julie Aigner-Clark


Who else has purchased Baby Einstein products for their children or grandchildren? We have Julie Aigner-Clark to thank for it! As the creator of the Baby Einstein brand, she started her multimedia company in 1996, providing educational content for babies and toddlers. As a mother and grandmother, Julie’s entrepreneurial spirit led to the growth of her business, which The Walt Disney Company later acquired.

9. Ruth Fertel

Ruth’s Chris Steak House (Denver)

Steak lovers: This one is for you! Ruth Fertel, a single mother with a background in chemistry, purchased the Chris Steak House in 1965 and transformed it into the internationally recognized chain Ruth’s Chris Steak House. As a grandmother, Ruth’s determination and business acumen led to the success of her high-end steakhouse chain.

10. Judy Sheindlin

Wikimedia Commons/Susan Roberts

Last but certainly not least is Judith Sheindlin, who you may have seen on daytime TV a time or two. Better known as Judge Judy, Sheindlin started her own production company, Queen Bee Productions, after the success of her long-running television show. As a grandmother, she has continued to be a prominent figure in the entertainment industry, producing various television programs and inspiring others with her sharp wit and no-nonsense approach.

There you have it: 10 remarkable grandmas with a vision that changed the business world! They serve as role models for future generations of entrepreneurs, demonstrating that hard work, determination, and resilience can lead to remarkable achievements in various industries. I hope this leaves you feeling as refreshed and inspired as it has for me.

Remember: Age is just a number, and your best years are still ahead. 

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