Women on the Move
24 making their mark on our region.
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Rest assured there’s no shortage of remarkable women around here, with more and more finding their way into key executive positions. According to the Main Line Society of Professional Women, they own about 25 percent of the businesses in Chester, Delaware and Montgomery counties, and they’re starting new ones at twice the rate of men.
The lives of the 24 women profiled here are vastly different, but the one thing they have in common is a willingness to break out of their comfort zones and seize opportunities. We have a feeling the best is yet to come for this bunch.
You have to wonder if it was fate or coincidence that Lindy Snider was treated recently for thyroid cancer—a less fatal form of the disease, but cancer all the same. “Cancer is cancer,” she says.
The diagnosis gave the Bryn Mawr mom a whole new perspective beyond what she’d experienced through the many clients who come to her seeking help with skin conditions related to chemotherapy, radiation and other cancer treatments. Safe for all age groups, Snider’s Lindi Skin products (lindiskin.com) have been shown to reduce the irritation caused by many treatments. Continued medical support—including a recent clinical study at Northwestern University in Chicago—has propelled Lindi Skin into prominence with cancer patients, advocacy organizations and support groups over the past seven years.
“It’s a quality-of-life issue,” says Snider, who’s the daughter of Comcast Spectacor chairman Ed Snider. “A lot of people abandon cancer treatment because the skin irritation is unmanageable for them. You don’t see them walking around because they’re not walking around. They’re worried about scaring their family and friends. They can’t enjoy a normal life.”
As advancements are made and a whole new class of drugs and treatments become available, the need for Lindi Skin products has only increased. “We’ve passed the point of being a company that sells something,” says Snider. “We’re positively impacting the lives of people who, more often than not, have very little reason to be optimistic.”
Still, developing a thriving international business has been a learning experience of grand proportions for Snider. “This was so much harder than I’d ever imagined,” says Snider. “I had the vision and understood my mission, but launching in this industry as an unknown—and under the scrutiny of the medical community—wasn’t easy at all. What I’m trying to do with Lindi Skin is bigger than that hot pair of shoes that I used to have no problem dropping a significant amount of money on. I’ve learned what I do and don’t need.”
Karate has been a love of Liz Durning’s since she was a little girl. But it wasn’t until she was in her early 20s that she seriously took up martial arts. Now a fourth-degree black belt, Durning was frustrated with how few young girls were participating in the sport. She realized that, to attract the little ladies, she needed to make the sport less intimidating and more female friendly—and in 2004, PINKarate (pinkarate.com) was born.
Since then, Durning’s adorable pink uniforms and feminized karate moves (think “pom-pom punches”) have generated a phenomenal response. Held at Club La Maison in Wayne, her classes for girls ages 3-16 are a consistent hit. “I’m not only teaching these girls American Kenpo karate, but also realistic self-defense skills,” says Durning, who just graduated her first class of black belts. “It’s about empowering them and making them safe.”
Durning has also turned her students’ mothers into believers, recently kicking off “Hot Pink Karate” classes for moms.
“I wanted to be close to my kids while I was building my company,” says Wei Brian.
Which explains why her Newtown Square home doubles as the national headquarters for her multimillion-dollar business, Wei East (weieast.com).
Brian’s beauty line uses the herbal skincare recipes passed down for generations in her homeland of China. She partnered with the Home Shopping Network in 2002, and her brand has been a top seller on HSN ever since, with more than a million customers. “There’s quality and integrity in the product,” she says. “It’s so popular because it delivers what’s promised. Women see results.”
Earlier this year, Brian expanded her brand, moving into the luxury skincare market with a second line called WEI, available exclusively at Space.NK.apothecary (spacenk.com). Brian, who has a son with autism, also supports various charities related to the disorder. “Everything happens for the best,” she says. “I keep that belief to stay positive. It’s not always easy, but it’s the only way for me.”
When Cynthia Gouw moved to the Philadelphia area from California seven years ago, she instantly fell in love with the city. Still, she was perplexed. “I couldn’t believe that there wasn’t an outlet celebrating how great the women of this fabulous place are,” says Gouw, who lives in Merion Station.
So she created one herself, utilizing her experience as an Emmy Award-winning TV journalist. These days, the part-time model is the executive producer and host of SnapGlow.TV, Philly.com’s fashion, health and beauty channel. Every week, she writes, produces and hosts at least two videos on related content for the channel, and assembles multiple photo galleries of happenings around the city and its suburbs. “Both of my parents are Chinese immigrants from Indonesia,” says Gouw, who has appeared on the cover of More magazine. “They believed it was a privilege to be in America, so they instilled in their children the value of hard work. I take that very seriously.”
Around these parts, the surname “Wyeth” certainly has cache—especially when it follows the names Andrew, N.C. and Jamie, the Brandywine Valley’s most renowned, genetically linked artistic trio. So when she took over as docent at the Brandywine River Museum—one of the largest of repositories of their works—Victoria Wyeth had a lot to live up to. And it appears she’s on her way.
The charismatic sole grandchild of Andrew, the great-granddaughter of N.C. and the niece of Jamie, Wyeth commutes every weekday from her Center City home to Chadds Ford, where she doles out facts and personal insights about pieces both well-known and obscure—family treasures with which she is intimately familiar. The tours have become so popular that the number of guests for each is now limited to 35.
Wyeth’s goal is to put a fresh spin on art appreciation. Often, she’ll bring in a model to talk about what it was like to sit for a certain painting—or throw in a few stories that reveal the human side of her grandfather. She knows her stuff when it comes to all the Wyeths, but it’s “Andy’s” work—or more his life—that she chooses to celebrate the most. “He would revel in moments like I had recently, when I let two little girls choose a few paintings to talk about,” says Wyeth. “It’s the discovery and awe that comes with seeing things through someone else’s eyes—the excitement, the melancholy, the altered perspective that he conveyed in his paintings. He’s not here, but he’s still connecting with people.”