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Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge spotlights businesswomen in new book 'In the Company of Women'

Grace Bonney of Design*Sponge spotlights businesswomen in new book 'In the Company of Women'
Women business owners share their fears, mistakes and successes in Grace Bonney's new book, "In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice From Over 100 Makers, Artists, and Entrepreneurs." (Christopher Sturman)

For more than a decade, Grace Bonney has been inspiring interior design fans with her popular blog Design*Sponge. In her new book, "In the Company of Women: Inspiration and Advice From Over 100 Makers,  Artists, and Entrepreneurs" (Artisan Books), Bonney continues to inspire as she offers what she calls "visibility for powerful women in business."

From artists and chefs to tattoo artists and writers, creative women of all colors, ages, sexualities and experience share their fears, mistakes and successes. "I hope that any woman reading the book, whether  a young girl in middle school or someone older, will see themselves reflected and dream big," Bonney said.

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Here, she shares further thoughts on the book. She will moderate a panel discussion about life and work on Monday at the Freud Playhouse.

Given the political climate of the last week, it appears the timing could not be better for a book celebrating women.

I could not agree more. It's been a nice departure in terms of lifting women up.

This book chronicles more than 100 women, yet it feels like a book about community.

I think that was the inspiration for the book and the book tour: The idea of strength in numbers. It drives me — and everyone in the community — to feel the support of other women around them.

"I am proud to be an out, queer woman of color in an industry where there are so few people like me," says actor and maker Jasika Nicole.
"I am proud to be an out, queer woman of color in an industry where there are so few people like me," says actor and maker Jasika Nicole. (Sasha Israel)

The women you profile span geography, sexualities, ages, ethnicities. How did you choose them?

I wanted to have as many entryway points as possible to these stories. More women will have the courage and curiosity to start their own business when they see themselves reflected in the book. Often, these books focus on people who have start-ups and have venture capital money and are really young. I wanted there to be as many different representations of  a path to success. Some of these women are still working side jobs to pursue their creative career.

Were there any common threads throughout the book?

One is silly but poignant: When I asked them what they wanted to be when they were young, almost everyone had a certain level of performance in their answer. I thought that was fascinating. To me, when you run your own business, you have to be front and center. More profound: All these women told me they had to let go of work-life balance because it holds to the ideal of perfection. It relaxed me and calmed me down. We shouldn't judge ourselves about the fact that we don't have it all figured it out.

"Being an artist means you are always working," says Los Angeles artist Shizu Saldamano.
"Being an artist means you are always working," says Los Angeles artist Shizu Saldamano. (Echo and Earl)

For a book about creatives, there are many unglamorous tips about running a small business.

That was intentional. There needs to be actionability and practical tips to inspire people to make a big leap.

They were all so honest about their anxiety about money.

It makes people feel good to see that others have worries about money and time. It's a wonderful connecting moment. Some people will have more time and resources, but they will still have the same hurdles. As time goes on, the hurdles don't go away, they just get more complex.

"Write a mission statement that will endure over time, and stick to it," said textile designers Hopie and Lily Stockman of Block Shop.
"Write a mission statement that will endure over time, and stick to it," said textile designers Hopie and Lily Stockman of Block Shop. (Sasha Israel)

Many of the women cited travel as a way of handling self-doubt and adversity.  

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On our first panel, Jodie Patterson shared that travel was a way for her to achieve balance in her daily life. Someone asked her "But how do you travel every day?" She said that travel can be reading a book about  some place far away. That you can get out of your head by going to a geographic location in your mind or on the Internet.  Travel is a state of mind that keeps you open and agile.

So many of these women mentioned their mothers as someone they admire and look up to.

It says a lot about why more books like this need to exist. So many of us have women that we look up to. There are no shortages of men in business who are business pioneers. We rarely get women  as business role models. They exist. They just aren't getting the attention.

What: Grace Bonney will moderate a panel discussion with Lily and Hope Stockman of Block Shop, Joy Cho of Oh Joy!, Bethany Yellowtail of B. Yellowtail, Shadi Petosky of Puny Entertainment, Tanya Aguiñiga of Aguiniga Design, Angelica Ross of Miss Ross Inc. + Trans Tech Social Enterprises and author Roxane Gay.

When: 7:30 p.m. Monday, Oct. 17

Where: UCLA Freud Playhouse at UCLA, 405 Hilgard Ave., Los Angeles

Tickets: $44, includes a copy of "In the Company of Women." Ticket only,  $10.

Twitter: @lisaboone19 

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