Long gone are the days when only the father left each morning for work while mom stayed home to run the household and take care of the kids. Today, the mother is the primary breadwinner in four-in- ten U.S. families, according to the Pew Research Center, up from 11 percent in 1960 and 34 percent in 2000.
The rise of women in the workplace may be attributed to changing social trends (divorce and single parenthood) and education. In 1960, just 18 percent of mothers of infants had any college experience. Today, that number is 67 percent, according to Pew Research.
And once women arrived in the workplace, it is not hard to imagine that all those years of running a household honed their entrepreneurial and executive talents, making them among the most sought-after and capable executives.
September 22 is American Business Women’s Day, having been declared as such by Congress in 1983.
Forbes magazine says 2016 has been a groundbreaking year for women in business, citing Ginni Rometty, IBM’s first female CEO, Sheryl Sandberg, who the publication says, led Facebook through its initial public offering and Marissa Mayer, who went from Google to CEO of Yahoo.
This is of particular interest to us at Sleep Outfitters, since our founder and CEO, Kimberly Brown Knopf, is, well, a woman.
Hers is a true American success story, built of ambition and determination.
She worked part time to help pay her tuition to one of Louisville, Kentucky’s finest private schools, Sacred Heart Academy.
Armed with a quality secondary education, she set her sights on college, but, since no one in her family had been, she wasn’t sure how to go about it. That did not prove to be too big a problem. She read, researched and consulted people with college experience. She arranged for loans, applied and was accepted to the University of Kentucky.
Yet, armed with a college degree, she still wasn’t sure what she would do. She answered an ad for a mattress salesperson. Instead of taking the job, she decided to open her own mattress store.
This was 1983, when most people bought their mattress from a furniture store. Kim Knopf decided she could be successful by specializing in mattresses and stressing the importance of sleep to good health.
It also didn’t hurt that she was determined and dedicated to whatever she set her mind.
Today, the young UK graduate, who started with one store in South Charleston, W.Va. in 1983, owns 160 mattress stores across six states. Her company, Innovative Mattress Solutions -- which does business in West Virginia, Ohio, Indiana, Kentucky, Tennessee and Alabama as Mattress Warehouse, Mattress King and Sleep Outfitters – continues to grow.
As does the role of women in leading American businesses.