In the Company of Women by Grace Bonney January 27, 2017 13:55
Back in April 2016, I preordered 'In the Company of Women' by Grace Bonney. As one of two sisters working away on our own little company, I thought this was a book I couldn't miss out on. A book about creative women running creative businesses. Perfect.
The book arrived last October. The timing of its arrival was interesting... For starters, Clinton was leading the charge (and the polls) in the US elections. Fast forward a few months and the world seems a v. different place. So, now appears a good time to talk about this wonderful, inspiring book.
The format is simple - a series of questions and answers from creative business owners. Many are based in the US, but there are also interviews with women further afield including here in the UK, Italy and Mexico.
Over the last few months, I've enjoyed reading one 'story' per night. It has become something of a little ritual. When you are working away in fairly solitary conditions, there is something very reassuring and enjoyable about reading the trials and successes of other business owners. Each night, I put my own worries to the back of my mind and focus on someone else that I have never met and don't know, just to find out what is going on in their world.
Now, there are plenty of inspirational quotes that do the rounds on Facebook or twitter, so you may be thinking, how is this different? You can just scroll that stuff. Well, for me, this book is a world apart. First off, there are no social media rabbit holes to disappear down into. And there are no obvious word / character restrictions. Which means you get a lot more 'reality'. You read about the sleep depriving worries; the things that had the interviewee known about them to begin with, they would have approached very differently. But, importantly, you also get the dreams and the context with questions such as 'What did you want to be when you grow up?' through to 'If you were given £100 million, would you run your business differently? and 'What would you do with an extra three hours a day?'... Gawd, where do you get started with that one?!
What emerges from this collection of answers is honest, inspiring and frankly, quietly magnificent. Hard work, persistence and determination are embedded in every page. There is also a fair dose of pain, tough times and aggravation. But there is not one trace of self pity. No finger pointing. Just honest reflection on life, business and everything in between.
At a time when I personally think twice about putting on the news (deep breath, can I bear it...!) this book is a reminder that alongside tremendous talent and creativity, there is passion, positivity, respect and kindness around every corner. It hides amongst little gestures - like a smile or a wave. Or letting you edge into a teeny tiny space in horrendous traffic jams (thank you lovely fella in the van yesterday). It is within all of us. Which is what you realise when you find that you are no longer just reading a book, but cheering the success of complete strangers because you know how hard they've worked to pull out the stops and create something magical.