Welcome to Workman’s #30DaysofGiving! This holiday season, we will be excerpting from some of our favorite books of the year and giving readers the chance to win a copy. Follow along by visiting our master digital advent calendar, and use the hashtag #30DaysofGiving on social media for daily updates.
IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN by Grace Bonney (Day 29)
The following is excerpted from Grace Bonney’s introduction to the book.
Activist Marian Wright Edelman said, “You can’t be what you can’t see.” Visibility is one of the most powerful tools we have in inspiring people to pursue their dreams and educating them about all the amazing options that exist. My goal with In the Company of Women is to provide motivating and relatable examples of all kinds of women running their own businesses, so that any woman, anywhere, can open to a page and see herself reflected.
I started my first business, Design*Sponge (a daily website dedicated to the creative community), in 2004. Running my own business has been the most rewarding—and challenging—part of my life so far. It’s taught me to take risks and stand up for what I believe in, and has given me more self-confidence and pride in myself than anything else.
Over the past twelve years of running Design*Sponge, my goals have shifted dramatically, from wanting a place to talk about art and design, to creating a platform for handmade work, to providing advice and resources for the people behind that work. Just like people, businesses and their goals change, and now I find myself making professional ideas and inspiration as big a part of what I do as celebrating art and design.
Exactly a decade ago I held my first in-person meet-up for women running their own creative businesses. Frustrated by the knowledge that less than 40 percent of all businesses in the United States are run by women, I wanted to create an event that would work to change those numbers. That series, called Biz Ladies, was an immediate success and has now grown into a regular column on Design*Sponge, spawned countless local groups, and launched companies and collaborations across the country. What I learned from organizing these groups was profound and boils down to this: women want to run their own companies and are much more likely to do so if they have the support of other women around them.
I’m proud of what we’ve done as a community to support these business owners, but in 2014 I had a realization: the majority of women-centered business events, books, and platforms were promoting the same type of woman over and over again. These success stories most often belonged to young, straight, white, cisgender women. I am 100 percent in support of any business that’s bringing good into the world, but I was acutely aware of how many women (women of color, women from the LGBT community, and differently abled women) weren’t being celebrated or included in these discussions.
In the Company of Women highlights over one hundred of the most talented women I know. From young media titans and mother-daughter fashion houses to inspiring painters and poets, the women in this book are shining examples of what we can become if we work hard and support one another. These businesses are diverse: fledgling start-ups to companies with decades of experience, one-woman shows to larger corporations with hundreds of employees.
I traveled across America to interview the vast majority of these women face-to-face. Those moments spent listening and learning have provided me with enough inspiration for decades to come and have motivated me to change the way I run my own business, with a renewed focus on inclusiveness and providing a platform for people to tell their stories in their own voices. The lessons reflected in this book come from lifetimes of experiences in places as far away from my hometown as Nigeria, Australia, and Peru.
While each woman’s story is unique, their messages are universal. They’ve overcome adversity, gone great distances on their own, and learned the power of working together to achieve their goals. In many cases, they have inspired one another, and they are role models for the generation to come. Any one of these women would inspire someone to pursue their passion, but together, they are an undeniable force.
The New York Times Bestseller
“I want to rip out every page of this glorious book and hang them on my wall so that I can be surrounded by these incredible women all day long.”
—Emma Straub, New York Times bestselling author of The Vacationers and Modern Lovers
Across the globe, women are embracing the entrepreneurial spirit and starting creative businesses. In the Company of Women profiles over 100 of these influential and creative women from all ages, races, backgrounds, and industries. Chock-full of practical, inspirational advice for those looking to forge their own paths, these interviews detail the keys to success (for example, going with your gut; maintaining meaningful and lasting relationships), highlight the importance of everyday rituals (meditating; creating a daily to-do list), and dispense advice for the next generation of women entrepreneurs and makers (stay true to what you believe in; have patience). The book is rounded out with hundreds of lush, original photographs of the women in their work spaces.
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