In 2013, I came out publicly on my blog, Design*Sponge. Speaking up and making my personal life so visible opened my eyes in a profound way. I became intensely aware of the lack of diversity in the world of lifestyle blogs. How few LGBTQ people, people of color, differently-abled people and people over 40 were regularly featured, even on my own website. My website has always felt like a home, so I immediately began to course-correct and steer our content and team toward inclusivity and visibility. Because as much as I love a beautiful home, I care more about that home being a safe and welcome place for everyone in it.
One of my favorite parts of my job is getting to learn more about, and share, the stories of the artists, makers and business owners behind the designs we love so much – particularly those of strong talented women. While books about women in business are more abundant than ever, once again it felt like only a certain segment of the population was being So last summer I hit the road to interview over 100 incredible women, of different ages, sexual orientations, races, and religions, who run their own businesses and creative practices. While their paths to success are varied and unique, these stories and voices are an undeniable force- and a powerful reminder of what women can achieve when they follow their dreams- and when they support each other. -Grace Bonney
What did you want to be when you were a child?
I wanted to be an architect or engineer. I wanted to build and design really unique buildings with cool materials. My bubble burst when I understood how much advanced mathematics was involved.
What was the best piece of business advice you were given when you were starting out?
I was told to always trust in my vision and to not be afraid of risk taking. I find that as you open yourself up to the public you're also inviting numerous opinions into your head space. It's important to know yourself and to remain focused on what you've set out to do, while always being ready to seize an opportunity.
What is your favorite thing about your workspace?
I really love the material bank I built. This enormous piece of furniture makes our materials and processes visible to customers while also keeping us organized. Seeing everything laid out just the way I envisioned is a delight each morning when I open the doors. I also see the ways in which people are inspired when they're able to see the components of a project. I think it allows them to visualize themselves making something by hand, which is always positive.
Name the biggest overall lesson you've learned in running a business.
Patience--with myself first and foremost. It's a lesson I seem to relearn every year. I find it's so important to understand timing and to be strategic in my various projects. Having patience means being at peace with the time it takes to do something right and to its fullest.
Name your greatest success (or something you're most proud of) in your business experiences.
Personally my biggest success is the way in which I've transformed myself. It's no small feat to go from a person who identifies primarily as an artist to one who calls herself a business owner/entrepreneur/manager. It requires constant education and the confidence to wear those titles in the world. It's been so rewarding to realize how creative you get to be in business as well.
What tool, object, or ritual could you not live without in your workday?
I have too many essential tools to name just one. However, the ritual of cleaning my workspace at the end of the day and Knolling my tools (the process of arranging like objects in parallel or 90 degree angles as a method of organization) is so satisfying. It allows my brain to feel at peace with the day's work, and then in the morning I'm off to a better start.
Name a woman (or women), past or present, whom you admire or look up to.
My mother is an enormous inspiration to me. Her demonstration of hard work, business savvy, and creative problem solving--all while remaining serenely calm and encouraging to my brother, sister, and me--is something I marvel at all the time. I hope to mature into that woman and become such an example for my family someday as well.
Excerpted from IN THE COMPANY OF WOMEN by Grace Bonney (Artisan Books). Photograph by Sasha Israel. Copyright © 2016.
Grace Bonney is the founder of Design*Sponge, a daily website dedicated to the creative community, and is also the host of a weekly radio show, After the Jump. She lives in the Hudson Valley with her wife, Julia, and their three pets. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and Snapchat @designsponge.