Continuing with our mission to highlight inspiring and empowering women, we were thrilled to interview Grace Bonney for our Meet the Maker series. She is the author of New York Times bestseller In the Company of Women and founder of Design*Sponge, a design and lifestyle blog. We asked Bonney a little bit more about the bestselling book, the inaugural issue of her new magazine Good Company, and what we might expect to see from Design*Sponge in the future.
How did you come up with the concept of In the Company of Women?
I’m a big fan of books about business, particularly women in business. But in my experience, they seem to tell the same story over and over again. I wanted to create a book that celebrates all of the different ways that people start and run businesses (including part time and side businesses, which are just as valid!) and tell the stories and lessons from a diverse group of women of all ages, races, stages of business and various identities.
The book is a New York Times bestseller and continues to receive a lot of attention on social media from women of many ages and backgrounds. Has anything about the response to the book surprised you?
There’s been a palpable response that speaks to how hungry our community is to see themselves better and more fully represented, and I’m so glad to see how that’s been reflected in the social media response online. I think the biggest and best response, for me at least, has been to see how many books it’s inspired with very specific themes. I’ve heard from people compiling books of women in business from HBCUs, women in India, women in the music industry, women in food, and just about every other niche or specific theme you can think of. I really love when an idea takes off and people want to find a way to turn that into something new and exciting that celebrates a community they love.
In another interview you mentioned you originally had 200 women to feature! And now you’re launching a new magazine, Good Company, which will highlight more creative women, hopefully inspiring others in the process. Why did you decide on launching a magazine rather than a new book?
I love In the Company of Women, but we used a very specific set of questions that were designed to work in that format. It didn’t leave a lot of room for in-depth discussions or lengthier features or a focus on specific themes within different communities of women. And books usually take two years to make. I felt like a magazine would solve both challenges: it would give me a place to have more nuanced and complex conversations, but instead of only writing about 100 women every two years, I could write about close to 100 women in print form twice a year. I jumped at the chance to talk about more people and in more depth right away. I’m a big fan of the belief that the medium is important and should match the content, and this just felt more like a magazine to me than a book.
How do you keep your content fresh and new? Where, or who, do you draw inspiration from?
I’m constantly working to expand and change the sources of my inspiration. When we all pull from the same well (Pinterest, Instagram, etc.) our content starts to look the same. So I’m always working hard to find blogs, magazines, websites, exhibits and events that I can attend or follow online to meet or discover new people, projects and ideas. It’s a full time job to stay on top of these sorts of outlets but I love it. These days I’m most inspired by people who use technology in unexpected ways to expand upon something more traditional – like people using 3D Printing to create sustainable homes in parts of the world that don’t have enough affordable housing.
I know Design*Sponge has grown quite a bit since its initial launch. Is there a fun idea or trend that you haven’t had the chance to experiment with?
I can’t believe it’s actually been 14 years of Design*Sponge, but we’re always changing, so that keeps me on my toes. The one frontier I love (and watch a lot of) and would love to find a way to branch into is television. Some of my favorite sources of entertainment and inspiration are shows and documentaries on Netflix, so that’s a platform I’d love to figure out some day.
Who would be your dream collaboration?
I’d love to see our team collaborate with a non-profit working to provide housing and other home-comforts to those in need. We’re always doing this on a small scale, but I’d really love to team up with a larger national group to help on a bigger scale.
Anything else you’d like our customers to know?
Just that I’m so excited for these people and these conversations to continue and really deepen the moments of inspiration and motivation that came from the book. This first issue of Good Company is all about Community and gives both big and small scale advice and practical, usable tips for finding and connecting with people in your area who can support you in your work. I think that’s so crucial for the long term success of anyone’s business—or their happiness. So I’m hopeful we’ll see those moments of connection and inspiration grow tenfold with the magazine.
If you’re in the New York City area, make sure you stop by our 5th Avenue location for an in-store event with Grace Bonney! She will be signing copies of her book and celebrating the launch of Good Company, available in our stores 6 days before its public release! You’ll also have the chance to get a limited edition tote bag with the purchase of Good Company or In the Company of Women.
Thursday, April 26th from 6-8pm
75 5th Ave
New York, NY 10003