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Entrepreneurs

Ruth Mosko Handler

Best known as the inventor of the Barbie doll, Ruth Mosko Handler combined her marketing genius with her husband Elliot Handler’s creative designs to form the toy company Mattel, Inc. Starting in their garage in 1939, the Handlers produced Lucite gifts, wooden picture frames, and dollhouse furniture before developing their first toy, the Uke-A-Doodle, in 1947. The success of the Uke-A-Doodle was followed by a series of rubber-belt-driven musical toys, including the Jack-in-the-Box, as well as toy guns such as a Winchester rifle replica. Yet it was the Barbie doll, created in 1959, that “ran off the counter.” Thirty years later, sales of the doll that Handler named after her daughter exceeded one billion dollars.

Happy 50th birthday, Barbie

I have to admit that I didn't grow up with Barbies. Born to a feminist mom in the 1970s, I only had Skipper, Barbie's flat-chested cousin. But as much as Barbie's boobs kind of frightened me (and still do), Skipper just didn't have her charisma.

"The best goddamn madam in all America"

I've been meeting a lot of interesting Jewish women lately. And all without leaving my computer! No, I'm not trolling JDate or chatrooms for a hot date (my life is complicated enough with a husband and two kids, thank you very much) -- I've been wandering through the couple thousand entries in the new online Jewish Women: A Comprehensive Historical Encyclopedia! 

Eva Schocken

When Eva Schocken's father brought Schocken Books to New York in 1946, she became involved as an education consultant. When Salman died in 1960, Eva’s husband Herzl took over as president of Schocken Books. Eva became an editor.

Flora Sassoon

Born in Bombay into the legendary Sassoon dynasty, Flora (Farha) Sassoon lived a colorful life in India and then in England as a businesswoman, philanthropist, famed hostess and Jewish scholar.

Rachel Salamander

Rachel Salamander is a well-known personality in Munich, where she established a prominent bookshop, the Literaturhandlung, in 1982. This bookshop specializes in Jewish literature and has one of the largest collections of books in Germany about Judaism.

Helena Rubinstein

My Life for Beauty, Helena Rubinstein’s autobiography, was published in 1966, a year after her death. In the introduction, her son Roy Titus called his mother’s life and work “so inseparable that a book dealing with one aspect without the other would seem incomplete.” Thus, the first half recounts “My Life,” and the second half, “For Beauty,” includes advice for achieving beautiful skin, hair, nails, and so on.

Rothschild Women

Strangely enough, the Rothschild women enjoyed greater ease than their menfolk. All but a few enjoyed the position they were assigned and obviously took great pride in a Jewish family’s rise to fame and fortune.

Nettie Rosenstein

Fashion designer Nettie Rosenstein was instrumental in the popularization of the “little black dress” in America. She observed the trend in French couture and used the power of the ready-to-wear industry to popularize the look in America.

Sophie Sonia Rosenberg

Sophie Rosenberg’s company came to be Sonia Gowns Inc. in 1935, when she entered into the business with Gloria Morgan Vanderbilt. Though her business venture with the Vanderbilt family was brief, she never left the dress design business, and within a few short years, in 1944, she went into business once again, retaining the name of Sonia Gowns Inc.

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How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Entrepreneurs." (Viewed on October 21, 2014) <http://jwa.org/topics/entrepreneurs>.

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