Our girl power National Boss’s Day takeover continues with a fun and inspiring chat with the creator of Boss Babes: A Coloring and Activity Book for Grownups. Michelle Volansky is the ultimate boss babe. She published the first version of Boss Babes herself, she runs a kick-ass Etsy shop, her wardrobe is swoon-worthy, and she loves the word “cute.” We’re so pumped to talk to her today about her all-kinds-of-fab coloring and activity book, which boss babe she’d like to play Cards Against Humanity with, and her spot-on advice for when we are feeling a little low and uncreative.
1. What are three things we should know about you?
- My name is Michelle, and the closer I inch towards thirty, the more obsessed I seem to be with the color pink.
- I don’t believe in guilty pleasures and gleefully watch everything on Bravo.
- One time when I saw Lady Gaga in concert, she pulled me and a friend up on stage during her last song. I hugged her and she felt very soft and tiny. She smelled amazing. I got lowered under the stage with her and poof!–she vanished into the darkness immediately.
2. Let’s chat about the book! I love how many ladies—from so many different backgrounds and industries—were included in Boss Babes. How were you able to narrow it down? Is there a gal you wish could have snuck in there?
Thank you! It was really important to me that no one would flip through this book and think, “Wow, this is a collection of white feminism’s greatest hits.” I wanted to include a surprising, diverse, and intersectional group of ladies in basically every way: age, background, career, sexuality, race, religion, impact . . . When a woman in the book gets into a messy situation publicly, I have a pang of “Ugh, should I have even included her?” but I feel strongly enough about the positive contributions of each person to justify their inclusion. One of my big qualifiers was: Can I imagine the person who would be excited to see this woman in the book? Would they be like, “Omg I have to get this because I/my mom/my friend loves her!”
I could make sequels upon sequels to this book so easily! There are SO many amazing women I want to honor, and I feel like I think of new ones every day. Some of my close runner-ups were Bette Midler, Debbie Harry, and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie.
3. What’s one thing that would surprise most people about the creation of a coloring book?
Well, the thing that most surprised me was how hard it was to write all the activities! I’m an illustrator first, so I focused most on rendering a good likeness of all the ladies and assumed the activities would be the fast, easy part. I got to the point where I could churn out 4-5 portraits a day, but those Mad Libs killed me for days!
4. Which babe included in the book best fits your personality? Which one do you channel when you need a little more strength or sparkle?
I think Boss Babes functions as a great list of role models for a variety of situations in your life. Some days I want to feel fierce like Beyoncé, some days I try to hunker down and get serious like RBG, sometimes I wish I had more warmth and kindness like Dolly Parton . . . no one person serves 100% as my inspiration and I think women especially contain such multitudes!
5. Your coloring book and activity book is so much about empowerment. What’s the best advice you’ve ever gotten when you’ve been feeling a little stuck and directionless?
I think the best advice is always to just DO IT! If you feel like you’re in a rut or have some creative ideas/dreams simmering, do the research, but the most important thing is to actually do the work. I really believe the thing that separates the folks who “succeed” and the ones who don’t is the hustle and the ability to work through your issues, insecurities, and roadblocks to finish projects. Networking is important, but you need actual finished work ready for when those opportunities arise. Just keep making and doing—you’ll learn faster and improve that way, too. I struggle with this a lot, but self-imposed deadlines are crucial for me. You have to be your own biggest advocate. Hire yourself for the best jobs. Put yourself in the best situations possible for success, whether that means avoiding toxic environments, going to industry events, or scheduling designated work time.
6. I want to talk about other books for a quick second. Which strong ladies do you love in literature?
Reading and drawing were huge sources of escapism for me as a kid who felt like an outsider. I feel like I made lasting, personal connections with every young heroine I grew up with: Anne of Green Gables, Laura Ingalls Wilder, Ramona Quimby, and basically every Baby-Sitters Club member.
7. So what’s a boss babe like yourself working on next?
I love the scrappy, DIY spirit of the illustration industry these days. Besides my usual freelance work, I enjoy translating my drawings into physical products like wearable accessories, surface design, and paper goods and selling them online, at independent shops around the country, and in-person at indie craft shows and pop ups. I’m always brainstorming what products to try next, and have been collecting ideas for more potential book projects. I love always feeling on the edge of something new!
8. Which boss babe:
- Do you want to get a beer with: Adele seems like so much fun to hang out and talk smack with. We could throw back pints and talk about our manicures—she always has the best nails!
- Call when you’ve had the worst day: Dolly Parton, hands down. Anything she says immediately brightens my day.
- Brainstorm with: Amy Schumer. I’m no comedian, but I enjoy making people laugh. I want to steal her funny ideas like a creative vampire and come up with awesome, hilarious future projects.
- Idolize but are too shy to talk to: Haha, basically every woman in the book!
- Play Cards Against Humanity with: I would die to hear Julia Child’s giggles during a game of Cards Against Humanity!