The First Women’s Bank of California was one of a number of women’s banks popping up around the United States at the time, and one of a handful established in California.
The First Women’s Bank of California was a force to be reckoned with in Los Angeles industry: it created and hosted educational programs, revamped its marketing strategies, reached out to the community for business and collaboration, and had a number of famous clients and stockholders (including Jane Fonda, Farrah Fawcett, and others).
The First Women’s Bank of California was a small bank located in West Los Angeles, California, that was in operation from 1976 to 1984. The Bank’s founders and board members included primarily financial professionals, as well as a handful of celebrities interested in the Bank’s mission of creating a financial institution led by a women majority. While some say the purpose of the Bank was purely for business others focus on the purpose of making a bank that was more accessible to women. Either way, the Bank advertised to and served both men and women clients.
The First Women’s Bank of California collection at the Women’s Museum of California provides an in-depth look at every aspect of the Bank: its creation, its growth, its members, and its role as a primarily women-run bank in the late 1970’s and early 1980’s.
These items include informational texts on banking, media snippets about women in business, colorful brochures, progress reports on the First Women’s Bank of California, marketing strategies, and personal letters written between the First Women’s Bank of California’s board members. The collection demonstrates the bank’s desire to grow and compete, to function efficiently, and to create a better banking world for its customers.
The First Women’s Bank of California was validated by the state of California in 1974, and was later opened in West Los Angeles on November 15, 1976. The majority of news coverage agrees that the Bank was founded on the idea that women needed better access to their finances, and a better chance at establishing lines of credit free from traditional prejudice. Despite this special focus, according to Banking, the word “Women’s” in the title of the First Women’s Bank of California and other women’s banks was primarily based upon the institutions’ majority leadership by businesswomen. The First Women’s Bank of California assembled and operated in this manner, serving Los Angeles for eight years.