Mar 11, 2024 - Business

D.C.'s "she-conomy" is booming

Illustration of a woman flexing her bicep featuring a dollar sign tattoo

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

The number of D.C. women-owned businesses is jumping, according to a recent Yelp report.

Why it matters: The trend is more evidence that the "she-conomy" — economic growth attributed to women and marked by "Barbie," Beyoncé's Renaissance tour, and Taylor Swift last year — continues to expand, writes Axios' Hope King.

State of play: D.C. has an especially robust network of women business owners, Fia Thomas, owner of the local clothing store Fia's Fabulous Finds, tells Axios. In fact, women own 47.4% of the city's businesses, said the U.S. Small Business Administration last year in a report.

D.C.'s network of women entrepreneurs is particularly supportive and collaborative, business owners tell Axios.

  • "[We] face particular challenges that historically men have had an easier time with [like fundraising]," says local flower shop She Loves Me owner Holley Simmons. "Because of that, women look to each other for opportunities to lift each other up."

Zoom in: The D.C. region saw a 25% increase in women-owned businesses opening between 2022 and 2023 — the third-highest of any metro area, Yelp found.

  • Some of the sectors fueling the DMV's women-owned growth were nightlife, up 122%, and hotels and travel, up 115%, Yelp tells Axios.

Meanwhile, D.C. flooring listings started by women saw 400% growth, says Yelp, following a national trend of women opening more businesses traditionally dominated by men.

  • Overall, national listings within the home services category that were created by women grew 38% in 2023 from 2022, according to Yelp — greater than the national average of 32%.
  • The need and desire to spruce up living areas shouldn't be a surprise. After all, homeowners stayed put last year and managers resigned themselves to a permanent state of hybrid work.

What they're saying: "D.C. is ripe for entrepreneurship because, in my opinion, we're still underserved when it comes to having a robust retail and services industry," says Salt & Sundry owner Amanda McClements. "The city is savvy and driven by strong values so small businesses can really resonate."

The bottom line: If you're a woman who wants to start her own business, find and lean into a network — and then give back, too, says Thomas.

  • "You cannot make it by yourself," she tells Axios. "Collaborate with others who have like-minded personalities [and] who are willing to work together so that we can all make it."

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