In The Company Of Women
Grace Bonney, the founder of Design Sponge, is responsible for this inspiring collection of interviews and photographs of women of all kinds who have carved their own paths to successful creative living. They have overcome adversity to run their own businesses, create their own art, speak their own messages in clear proud voices. What is so important about this book is that Bonney has made them visible for other women to see proof of what can be done - evidence that women can lead. If we cannot see ourselves reflected in positions of power and respect we may not ponder what is possible.
I was lucky to attend a discussion at UCLA (put on by Book Soup) led by Bonney with panelists Joy Cho, Tanya Aguiñiga, Bethany Yellowtail, Shadi Petosky, Roxane Gay, Angelica Ross and Lily and Hopie Stockman. They answered questions about how to deal with negative feedback, where they find community, the struggle of work/life balance, what the difficult work looks like that got them to the positions they are in. How beautifully curated Instagram photos are 2% of what most lives really are - the other 98% can be ugly, painful, tedious but ultimately worth it to call yourself your own boss. How they are all scared, all doubt themselves, all keep forging ahead.
I am grateful for these women and their stories, for myself and also for my daughter. I am proud for her to see me work (both for someone else's creative company, and for myself on my own projects) even though work takes me away from her. She can see and understand work as a goal and a reality that she herself can shape, to be in control of her life. She can flip these pages and see diversity, women of all colors, ages, and sexualities. Surely she'll see herself in some of them.
The best way for me to read this book is a couple pages a day. There's so much inspiration and good advice, but it's a lot to take in at once. I like to get a few messages and absorb slowly. I'm learning about many creators I've never heard of, and was delighted to see some familiar faces and read their insights. This book would be a great gift for any woman starting a new venture or project.
In these trying months leading up to the presidential election, it's come to light how this country is so desperately in need of feminism, of equality for all. We need strong women and men to stand tall and speak up for our daughters and sons, to remove the burdens of stereotypes society places on them.