March is Women’s History Month – Generations of Women Entrepreneurs are the Past, Present, and Future of Our Business.
Our fearless leader, Laura Cristobal Andersland, was 11 years old when she developed her first rub — which later became known as one of Salty Wahine’s bestsellers, the Hawaiian Rub — while learning all about cooking from her grandmother, Agnes ‘Dutchie’ Kahoiwai Rutherford.
From a very young age, Laura was always in the kitchen with her grandmother, where she absorbed everything she knows about flavors and seasonings, herbs and sea salts. It was her grandmother, in fact, who instilled in Laura a passion for Hawaiian Sea Salt. Dutchie, as Laura’s tutu was affectionately called, revealed to her its benefits for soothing, cleansing, cooking, and even spiritual use.
Little did Dutchie know that, decades later, she would inspire Laura to build an entire business from the ground up.
Now, as women-owned businesses continue to increase throughout the country and around the world, Laura uses her knowledge and experience to empower other women entrepreneurs as they explore and expand their endeavors. Being an entrepreneur herself, Laura always understood the value of supporting businesses run by wāhine.
Importance of Women-Owned Businesses
Women-owned businesses have increased exponentially for nearly two decades. In 2018, Business Insider reported a 114% increase in women-owned businesses since the early 2000s.
When Laura founded Salty Wahine in 2008, she became a part of this empowered group of women business owners. Not only did she advocate to share Hawaiian culture around the world, but she inspired other women and young girls to pursue their passions and showed the value of women in business. In fact, there are many reasons to support women-owned businesses, like Salty Wahine:
Women-Owned Businesses Stimulate the Economy
Research has shown that women-owned businesses tend to do very well, often growing faster and generating higher revenue. What’s more, one survey even found that women-led businesses responded to the COVID-19 crisis with much more resilience and innovation, leading the charge for using digital platforms and technology.
Salty Wahine is no exception. Having only started with $800 in her pocket in 2008, Laura, with the help of family and friends, managed to grow her business to where her products can now be found in over 200 stores statewide along with numerous specialty shops, hotels, and restaurants throughout the U.S., Canada, Japan, and Europe.
Women with Other Responsibilities at Home Are Empowered
Many women are often choosing caregiving and other family responsibilities. However, as entrepreneurs, women have the flexibility they need to set their own hours and make money on their terms, while still making time for any other responsibilities they have. In fact, lots of women entrepreneurs begin with just side gigs, or “sidepreneurship,” as supplemental income. This part-time entrepreneurship for women even grew 39% between 2014 and 2019.
Salty Wahine had a similar start in which Laura, looking for a little extra income after retiring from a 29-year career at Budget Rent a Car, decided to take a couple of her salt rubs to a local farmers’ market. Her products were a hit, and the rest, as they say, is history.
Women Entrepreneurs Are Role Models for Young Girls
Women who are currently running their own businesses set an example for other women and young girls and show them that they can do whatever they set their minds to. These women pā’oihana lead the way to inspire more women to follow in their footsteps and work toward financial freedom, flexibility, or even just their own passion projects.
Laura is doing the same thing at Salty Wahine. She began the business with the hopes of passing it down through generations of her family. With her son Sean and daughter-in-law Jessika already wrapped into the business, she now focuses on getting her granddaughter Lily involved too.
Women Have a Direct Path into Leadership Positions
As entrepreneurs, women who begin their own businesses take leadership positions they might not normally have chosen to. That isn’t to say it’s an easy road; starting a business takes a lot of work. However, women have shown again and again that they have what it takes to lead a company. In fact, research has shown that most women leaders have the traits needed to create a confident, productive and safe workplace.
Under Laura’s leadership, Salty Wahine has not only grown to a global scale, but has created a workplace environment dedicated to treating its employees like family — after all, many of them are. But even those that are not related by blood are considered ohana, because that’s how Laura sees each person who has helped her in some way on her entrepreneurial journey.
Empowering Generations to Come
Laura grew up with her mother as a strong role model, who owned her own business, and it wasn’t until later that Laura realized that women-owned businesses were not as common as she had thought. “Never thought it was unusual for a woman to own a business because my mom owned her own business, and instilled that in me. It wasn’t till later that I realized it was a rarity. I was always taught that women can do anything.”
Now having been leading the Salty Wahine business for over a decade, Laura is excited that her business will not only stay in the family with her son Sean taking it over, but that it will still have a woman’s touch as Sean’s wife Jessika leads the business right beside him. Soon, their daughter Lily will also begin putting her own footprint on the business as she learns from the generations of strong, empowering women before her.
Having begun with Dutchie’s teachings and continuing with Lily’s learning, as far as Laura is concerned, Salty Wahine will be female-led for a long time. After all, it’s not called Salty Wahine for nothing.
In honor of Women’s History Month, we encourage you to support your local women-owned and women-led businesses, and mahalo for your support of all of us at Salty Wahine now and always.