Boss Like A Lady – Women Entrepreneur Series – Grace Bonney, The Hunter
Continuing after Women’s History Month, I am creating a limited hand-lettered and illustrated series of some women making history. These women own their own creative businesses and make them successful despite many obstacles, including their own occasional self-doubt. I hope they inspire you to make a little history of your own!
Grace Bonney is the founder of Design*Sponge, a daily website dedicated to the creative community. Design*Sponge was founded in 2004 and currently reaches over 1.5 million readers per day. She is passionate about supporting all members of the creative community; she runs an annual scholarship for up-and-coming designers, writes a free business column for creatives, and is the host of a weekly radio show, After the Jump, which reaches over 500,000 listeners per episode. Her first book, Design*Sponge at Home, is a national bestseller. After 12 years in Brooklyn, Bonney now lives in New York’s Hudson Valley with her wife and their three pets.
What do you think is your greatest mistake? Any time I avoid something, rather than face it head-on. I’m working on running toward fear (and even conflict), rather than away from it. I don’t always do it well, but I’m trying.
What’s the worst advice you’ve ever received? Any advice based on someone else’s life and not mine. I had a number of fellow bloggers tell me in the early days that I should sell my site, try to raise VC money and hire “someone else” to run things. I have never once regretted not doing any of these things. I’m proud that I’ve been able to slowly and organically grow Design*Sponge over the past 11 years in a way that is honest and meaningful to me.
And the best advice? Trust your gut. It’s a cliché, but it’s true. My gut isn’t perfect, but it’s always steering me in the right direction in the larger sense. Any time I listen to fear, worry or pride, I lead myself in the wrong direction.
What’s your best source of inspiration? Travel. Even travel around my new home area of the Hudson Valley provides entirely new sources of ideas and inspiration. It’s easy to fall into an internet hole and share the same images and sources over and over–so I try to get outside and see things in person as much as possible.
What do you do if/when you get discouraged? I work out. Until I was recently diagnosed with Diabetes, I loathed working out. Now I understand and appreciate what it can do for both my mind and my body. I run out any bad feelings and at the end of a good session, I feel like I’ve left it all on the floor (of the treadmill).
What do you do if/when you doubt yourself? I talk to my wife, Julia. She’s always honest with me and I trust her instinct so much.
Finish the statement, ‘Being a woman and owning a business is…”Absolutely wonderful. We aren’t often encouraged to run, grow and lead projects and I hope to provide one small example of how it can be done. I didn’t know many women running their own businesses growing up, but I hope that the next generation will have so many examples they can’t help but give their hopes and dreams a shot.
And what advice might you give for someone who wants to start her own business?Find a tangible problem or gap in your community and focus on providing a solution (or alternative). I’ve found that nothing ensures your long-term commitment to a project like being able to provide help where it is needed. That sort of meaningful connection to something will keep you inspired for years to come and will keep your audience coming back for more. Just remember to keep checking in to make sure you adjust your goal and focus as you go along.