Elizabeth Arden – Elizabeth Arden (1884-1966)
In an age when it was rare for women to wear make-up or run a business, Canadian Elizabeth Arden opened her first spa in Fifth Avenue, New York, in 1910, hiring chemists to develop her skincare products. By 1922, the company became one of the first global brands, and in 1946, Arden was the first woman on the cover of Time magazine.
At the time of her death in 1966, more than 100 Elizabeth Arden Salons were in business worldwide. The company was sold in 1971 for $38 million. Still going strong, the brand took $1.238 billion in revenues in 2012.
Coco Chanel – Coco Chanel (1883-1971)
From an inauspicious start, raised in a Catholic orphanage where she learned to be a seamstress, Chanel went on to become one of the world's best-known fashion designers. She opened her first millinery store in Paris in 1910, according to The Biography Channel, and by the 1920s was known as a style icon.
In 1922, she launched her most famous fragrance Chanel No. 5, which remains a a favorite for millions of women. Chanel worked up until her death in the Ritz Hotel at the age of 88, and her name is still carried on fashion, fragrances, jewelery and watches.
Joyce Chen – Joyce Chen (1917-1994)
Chinese restaurants were still a rarity in the United States when Joyce Chen opened her hugely successful restaurant in 1958 in Massachusetts. Chen, who had left China with her husband in 1949, is credited with introducing Americans to Mandarin food through her PBS series "Joyce Chen Cooks" and several cookbooks.
She developed a flat bottom wok and her name still appears on a range of kitchenware through a business run by her son. Her business was worth $9 million in its heyday.
Carrie Smith – Carrie Crawford Smith (1877-1954)
Shortly after moving from Tennessee to Illinois, Carrie Crawford Smith, an African American woman, set up an employment agency to help find work for the huge number of black migrants who were moving from the South to the North.
Her business helped both black and white clients, but mainly focused on African American domestic helpers. Smith's business was about more than just jobs -- she also saw her venture as a way to promote racial advancement and dignity.
Margaret Rudkin – Margaret Rudkin (1897-1967)
Rudkin began making stone-ground wheat at her family's farmhouse in Connecticut for her son, who suffered with asthma and food allergies. Soon her son's doctor, initially skeptical, was prescribing her bread to other patients and her husband was carrying loaves on the train to New York to be sold at specialist grocers.
By the end of 1939, Rudkin had sold more than a million loaves and featured in Reader's Digest. In 1940, she moved her business from her garage to its own factory, adding cookies to her range a decade later.
She sold the business to Campbell Soup for $28 million in 1961, and was the first woman to serve on Campbell's board of directors.
Anita Roddick – Anita Roddick (1942-2007)
The Body Shop
Environmental activist and entrepreneur Anita Roddick opened her first beauty products store in the English seaside town of Brighton in 1976 to create an income for herself and her two daughters while her husband was trekking across the Americas. She claimed she chose the color green simply to hide the mold on her first shop, but The Body Shop soon became known for its green ideal.
Former British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said when Roddick died of hepatitis C at the age of 64: "She campaigned for green issues for many years before it became fashionable to do so and inspired millions to the cause by bringing sustainable products to a mass market."
The Body Shop was sold to L'Oriel in 2006 for $988million, and now has 2,500 stores in more than 60 countries worldwide.
Cheung Yan – Cheung Yan (1957- )
In 2006, with a personal fortune of $3.4bn, Cheung Yan became the first woman to top China's annual Huran Report rich list, making her the richest self-made woman in the world. It was a fortune built entirely from paper.
Cheung, the daughter of a Chinese army officer, started her first paper recycling company in Hong Kong in 1985. After a stint in the United States shipping waste paper to China for recycling, Cheung returned to China and started Nine Dragons Paper, of which she is chairlady, with her husband.
Nine Dragons Paper now describes itself as the world's largest environmentally friendly paper manufacturer and, according to Forbes, has 18,000 full-time staff.
Jean Nidetch – Jean Nidetch (1923- )
Jean Nidetch, now 87, had failed with diets for many years and weighed 214lb when she went on a diet recommended by the New York Department of Health in 1961. Worried she might "cheat," she invited friends for coffee and asked if they'd like to join her in weekly meetings to discuss how they were getting on.
Within a year, Nidetch lost 72 pounds, which she never regained. To share her success, she opened her first Weight Watchers in New York in 1963 and a year later began franchising the concept. Nidetch sold the company to Heinz in 1978 for $1 billion.
The company now estimates that more than one million people around the world attend a weekly Weight Watchers meeting. This week, Nidetch's granddaughter, Heather (pictured above) helped celebrate Weight Watchers 50th anniversary with a dedication to the company's founder.