Women in Business in the Sunshine Economy

Apr 6, 2015

This is the gender wage gap. It's based on the difference in median weekly pay for men and women in the United States. In 2014, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, it amounts to $152 per week or more than $7,900 a year. This is the wage gap and it hasn't changed much over the past several years.


Chef Adrianne Calvo's West Kendall restaurant has 60 seats and 16 full-time employees.
Credit Ines Ayra

Adrianne Calvo made her own opportunity. When she was 16 she sat through a presentation of the culinary arts program at Johnson and Wales University. She describes it as a "lightning strike" moment. She found her passion and began her early career in the food industry.

Today, she runs Chef Adrianne's Vineyard Restaurant and Wine Bar. With a menu featuring New Zealand lamb, Alaskan salmon with brown sugar crust garlic and sweet chili aioli and wild corvina with Silician pistachio and truffle butter, you might think the restaurant would be right at home on Collins Avenue, Las Olas or in Brickell. (It would.)

But Calvo has built her business and reputation from her restaurant's kitchen in West Kendall. She's also written two cookbooks and steered her business through the Great Recession in the male-dominated restaurant industry. She owns her business and is proud to show off the scars on her arms as proof she's a business person and a working chef.

She doesn't call herself a feminist. Nor does she credit her business success to confidence. Instead, it's an attitude to take risks.

She has a tattoo on the inside of her left bicep that says "Make it count." It's attributed to her younger sister. She died from cancel when she was 19 and Calvo was 21.

"She used to say 'Every day, make it count,' and that's what I do every day," said Calvo.

She opened her restaurant in 2007 just as the South Florida economy was crashing. Six months after opening, she said she considered closing. Instead, she changed the menu, offered prix fixe meals and grew her reputation well beyond her West Kendall neighborhood. Today the restaurant has 16 full-time employees and Calvo has written cookbooks; "Maximum Flavor" (2005), "Maximum Flavor Social" (2014) and "Play with Fire: Images and Ingredients that Ignite" (2015).

Christine Duffy leads Carnival Cruise Line. She has decades of experience in the travel industry, but she started out wanting a different career path in travel.

Duffy says, "If someone would have told me when I didn't get that Pan-Am job and I started as a travel agent that one day I would be the president of Carnival " she wouldn't have believed them. She is the president today, responsible for 24 ships and a third of the cruise giant's passenger capacity.

Research from The Commonwealth Institute of South Florida finds the majority of women-led businesses started their own companies, using their savings. They are optimistic regarding their opportunities.  Three out of four expect their revenues to grow at least moderately in 2015. More than half expect to add jobs.