Grace Bonney knows about inspiring women. She's been featuring creatives and advice for creatives on her website, Design Sponge, since 2004.
For her new book, In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice From Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs, Bonney highlights a diverse group of women leading the creative community. These women are talented and inspirational entrepreneurs and makers of all kinds.
1. What is the message you think women need to hear most from other women?
That no one has it all figured out. Even the most well-known or established women struggle with a wide range of challenges, and we’re all just doing our best to change and evolve with our businesses and lives.
2. Why were these the women you wanted to share their stories?
I wanted this book to reflect a wide range of women and paths to business success. So I focused on including people of different ages, stages of business, different races, religions and sexual orientations. I wanted anyone reading to be able to see themselves reflected in these pages.
3. How do you hope their words of wisdom help makers and artists?
I hope these stories inspire people to take the next step in turning their dreams into realities. I wanted the advice to be equal parts inspiration and practical advice to really get people to take that leap and feel safe doing so.
4. Where do you find inspiration to create?
I’m inspired by problem-solving. When I see a gap in my community or a need that hasn’t been met, I feel 100% ready to jump into action and do what I can do to help.
5. In the book, Bonney asks each woman to share their life mottos. She and I happen to share one…”Whatever works until it doesn’t” is a mantra I live by. Did you adopt or borrow anyone else’s motto after hearing it?
I love what (Austin hotelier) Liz Lambert said “Buy the ticket. Take the ride.” It reminds me to take more risks and try to have fun with them.
6. What are your thoughts on the younger generation of makers/artists? What benefits might they have? What new challenges?
I think makers of all ages face struggles. I think it has less to do with your age and more to do with your work experience so far. But when I was younger I know I benefited from NOT knowing how much I didn’t know or how little I had planned. That sort of naive bravery and confidence is just what you need to get a big idea off the ground sometimes.
7. What motivates you to move forward with a project when you get stuck or feel like you’ve messed up or something hasn’t gone the way it should?
I try only to focus on projects that help people in some way. Knowing that someone’s life or business will be helped or changed, even in a tiny way, is a powerful motivator.
8. What were you most surprised to learn from these interviews?
I was most surprised, delightfully, that most women had realized the concept of “work-life balance” was a myth. They knew they couldn’t be everywhere at once, and stopped holding themselves to that impossible standard. That was a game changer for me.
9. What is something you wish people had told you when you were starting out?
That the problems and mistakes never stop. They get more complex. But solving them and learning from them because more and more fulfilling as you grow up with your business.
10. What’s something you’re glad you learned on your own?
That my gut is worth trusting, no matter what the situation is. Listening to my own inner voice from day one has helped me avoid a lot of situations that wouldn’t have worked out the way I hoped.
Thank you, Grace, for your insight and inspiration! “In The Company of Women” is available now.