HAVE you ever wished that you could sit down with a mentor and talk about the challenges of making your way in your profession? Or how to trailblaze your own unique path? Be true to your own sense of self and fulfil your own creative potential regardless of how others might react? Someone honest and direct but also supportive and gracious.
I have, many times, and I sometimes still do. Which is why I’m finding a new book by Grace Bonney, founder of the popular website Design*Sponge, such a revelation.
“I define success as being able to match one’s passion with a deep sense of purpose.” Thelma Golden, Museum Director
In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice from over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs has become my daily bible: sometimes I read one testimony after another as I find them laid out in the book. Other times I just flip open anywhere to find my inspiration for the day.
I can’t fail because every entry offers something that strikes home, some nugget of wisdom, common sense or humor that motivates me to keep going, validates my own experience, and leaves me feeling a little less isolated in my creative journey. Sometimes the similarities in experience are uncanny.
The individuals profiled come from all walks of life, races, backgrounds, sexual orientations, ages, and professions, from poets to painters, textile designers, bakers, museum directors, musicians, tattoo artists, interior designers, ceramicists, hoteliers, and architects. Many represent small businesses that fluorish under the radar while others are well-known and celebrated.
“If I am feeling self-doubt, I always try to think of myself as a kid. What I liked as a child is always a good barometer for what is good for me.”
Joana Avillez, Illustrator
Regardless, they are all answering the same questions, the ones most creative women seek answers to themselves. Such as: What does success mean to you? In moments of self-doubt or adversity, how do you build yourself back up? What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made in your career? What is your personal or professional motto? What’s the hardest thing about being your own boss? What would you tell yourself ten to twenty years ago that you wish you knew then? What does the world need more/less of?
Whether you’re fresh out of college or well along on your chosen path in a job or hobby, In the Company of Women is a wellspring of insight, encouragement and enthusiasm.
“Mistakes are a fact of life; they are building blocks, stepping-stones, the way we learn new things. Columbus wasn’t looking for a New World, he was searching for a route to spices. All mistakes teach us something, so there are, in reality, no mistakes. Just things we learn.” Nikki Giovanni, Poet
It’s the next best thing to sitting down with that mentor, a good friend (or sister) or a group of women who have your best interests at heart and want to see you succeed…whatever that means to you.
For a more expansive review, check out the article on Brain Pickings (a wonderful source of thought-provoking material in its own right), which includes an audio interview with Grace Bonney. In it she explains why she chose to make the book and the daunting challenge it presented — it was compiled in a month! Enjoy and be inspired. ♥
In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney. I picked up my copy at Anthropologie in Montreal; see a list of US and Canada stores via the previous link. It’s also available in Europe from Amazon UK and Amazon Germany (also for Kindle) and can be ordered through Payot Switzerland (SFr. 39.90).