Grace Bonney, designer extraordinaire, has a gift for you: In the Company of Women, a coffee table collection profiling a diverse range of creative women about their work. It’s 360 gorgeous full-color spreads offering up advice, inspiration, and personal stories from makers, shakers, and other entrepreneurs and innovators — including Janet Mock, Tavi Gevinson, Kate Bornstein, Roxane Gay, Cameron Esposito, Issa Rae, Carrie Brownstein, Laura Jane Grace, Mary Lambert, Jasika Nicole, Melissa Harris-Perry, and Kathleen Hanna.
When it comes to painting the whole picture of women who are creative-minded leaders, Bonney walked the walk on diversity and inclusion, and on purpuse. Over 70% of the book represents women of color, LGBTQ women, differently-abled women and/or women over 40. “I’m always most inspired and motivated by what I feel is missing from or needed within a community or market,” Bonney told me. “I started my blog back in 2004 because I didn’t see mainstream media covering DIY design and handmade work, and when I wasn’t seeing any business books that were inclusive I was motivated to create a book that I felt represented more of the creative community I know and love. So many business books for women are focused on cisgender, straight, white, thin women — and while those stories are valid and important to include as part of a spectrum, they definitely don’t represent all of the amazing stories and businesses that I’ve seen around me.”
Telling these women’s stories came easy to Bonney: they’re her own inspirations. “Getting to meet some of my idols — Laura Jane Grace, Nikki Giovanni, Cameron Esposito — was a dream come true,” Bonney told me, “plain and simple.”
And among the women, who represent a diverse range of backgrounds, experiences and industries, come some throughlines we can all pull from and relate to. “I really enjoyed finding unexpected common threads in stories that I wouldn’t have suspected would have commonalities,” Bonney said. “For example, almost every woman in the book admitted they’d given up on the idea of “work/life balance” because they realized — it didn’t actually exist. Things are always changing and adjusting and holding yourself — or your business — to this idea of something static and permanent was a waste of time. That piece of wisdom really stuck with me and changed the way I run my business completely.”
In the Company of Women opens with a quote from Marian Wright Edelman: “You can’t be what you can’t see.” That’s the backbone of this project, and it’s what Bonney wants readers to recognize and feel is slightly righted by its presence on their tables, or in their bookshelves. “My goal was for any woman reading to be able to see herself reflected in these pages,” she said, “and truly know just how many amazing opportunities and options exist. Whether it’s a young girl who sees Shadi Petosky and knows she could be a TV showrunner one day or an older women who sees an artist like Amalia Mesa-Bains and can imagine herself in a second career and painting well into her next stage of life.”
Is it obvious yet why we love this book? Okay, good. Is it obvious yet why you will, too? Great. ‘Cause we’ve got a copy to give away to — as well as a cute tote bag — and you should want them so bad! If you wanna be entered in the giveaway, comment on this post by MIDNIGHT EST TONIGHT, Tuesday October 4, and tell me who inspires you and what you’ve learned from them. I’ll pick a winner and announce them TOMORROW! Dreams really do come true.
UPDATE: We have a winner, folks! Thanks to random.org, I’ve magically selected @keladry and will be bestowing upon them some gifts via the powers-that-be, AKA Grace Bonney herself. Congratulations!