Off the Page: ‘In the Company of Women’

What do a New York supermodel-turned-activist, a Georgia baker and a California tattoo artist have in common? They’re all female business owners—and they’re all breaking the mold.

“Women want to run their own companies and are much more likely to do so if they have the support of other women around them,” writes Grace Bonney in the introduction to In the Company of Women, a book born from her work behind the scenes of her website Design*Sponge. For the past 10 years, Bonney has produced instructional content for women interested in owning businesses. “My goal … is to provide motivating and relatable examples of all kinds of women running their own businesses, so that any woman, anywhere, can open to a page and see herself reflected.”

Through revealing interviews, Bonney allows the 100-plus featured entrepreneurs to share their personal success stories and their greatest challenges. They reveal their childhood career dreams, the sacrifices they’ve made, their fears and their essential tools. Like so many Design*Sponge subjects, these women also let Bonney into their homes, and so the interviews are paired with the sort of vivid and textural photos that have come to be a signature of the site. Beauty company owner Linda Rodin’s book- and bauble-ladened apartment, museum director Thelma Golden’s pattern-on-pattern living room, and designer Justina Blakeney’s colorful studio all offer insight into what inspires their creative spirits each day.

“When I was seven, my grandmother looked at me very seriously and said in her calm, kind way, ‘ You must learn perseverance,’” relates product designer Karen Young in an anecdote that could benefit any budding business owner. “She made me repeat it, spell it and memorize the definition. She gently explained that sometimes in life you have to carry on in the face of great challenges and adversity. … It was my single greatest preparation for entrepreneurship.”