G.E.T.T. Inspired: Building Confidence through Collaboration

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A couple of years ago I joined my niece Tabitha, 8 years old at the time, in solving a puzzle. It took me ages, but it didn't take long for her to identify my problem. “Why don’t you just try a bunch of different things and change what doesn’t work until you get it right?” I, of course, was trying to get it exactly right on the first try, holding off on making a move until I knew it was correct. I tried her solution and quickly solved the puzzle.

Tabitha’s lesson profoundly affected the way I approached my work. It would be a while before I discovered the more formalized version of this approach called Design Thinking methodology. The problem is, at some point she’ll learn to “solve” problems the same way I did. Studies show that while boys are encouraged to take their time tinkering with a problem, girls learn to focus on performance over process, often getting “rescued” from the struggle of figuring things out themselves. They learn to feel insecure about experimentation. This is especially true in S.T.E.M. subjects. In the long run this leads to a gap in mechanical reasoning, one of the largest of all gender gaps. Teaching Design Thinking is one way to start changing this pattern.

Girls Exploring Tomorrow's Technology (G.E.T.T.) is an annual event dedicated to exposing middle school and high school girls to female role models. Through interactive workshops in STEAM fields we informed them on career options, encouraging them to have confidence in their ability to achieve success.

On March 21, along with three fellow leaders from eBay Enterprise, I had the opportunity to co-host several hands-on Design Thinking sessions. We wanted to get the girls excited, to inspire them through workshops designed to help them realize the power of collaboration and the value of their own creative problem solving abilities.

When I took an informal interest inventory by asking for a show of hands in each category, we gained an insight into what motivates these young women. While some girls had an interest in each of the areas of Science, Math, Engineering, and Technology, when asked who was interested in Art, every hand went up.

It’s widely believed that S.T.E.M. benefits greatly from the addition of Art and Design. Certainly innovation in any field requires creativity! Design Thinking can be a great way to engage girls and help them learn to enjoy the process of exploration.

 Girls used Design Thinking to identify problems and build solutions in the Design Thinking workshop.

Girls used Design Thinking to identify problems and build solutions in the Design Thinking workshop.

A process that hinges on empathy, Design Thinking is especially valuable because so often the most valuable thing each person can contribute is her unique point of view. Case in point: in our workshop we worked on improving the shopping experience for pre-teen girls (sharing our career path is a part of the exercise, after all). Not surprisingly, the retail business is controlled overwhelmingly by middle aged white men, which might help explain why not one of the 100+ tween girls claimed to enjoy shopping, contrary to what we’re all led to believe. The girls used Design Thinking to define and solve problems that the adults in the room, even the experts in commerce design, wouldn’t necessarily have thought of.

It sounds like a cliché, but the other leaders and I all left that Saturday feeling like we learned as much as the girls did. I guess that’s the power of Design Thinking! And the more we learn about how girls think and the problems they face, the better the solutions we can come up with together!

Want to make a difference in girls’ lives and help to build our future population of women in S.T.E.A.M.? There are so many ways to get involved. Please check out these resources to get started:




Decoding the Discussion: Girls + Tech

We're all probably familiar with the controversial Barbie book I Can Be a Computer Engineer, by now, right? It sparked outrage with its sexist portrayal of women as helpless tech novices who need to call the boys when it's time to code. But it sparked something else, too. Discussion. Awareness. Most importantly, revision! Women everywhere revised the story, posting and sharing and starting discussions about how we can change the pattern of sexism in the tech world. Coder Kathleen Tuite even made a tool so anyone could rewrite their own stories within the book's pages. 

We want to continue this discussion with the second in our STEAM series, T for Technology, by sharing thoughts from women who are helping girls (and everyone else) think of technology in new ways. Our new pattern by artist Terri Fry Kasuba features a secret message to decode! We hope these insights, videos, and designs  will inspire you to start a chat with a girl in your life about the magic of technology and the limitless potential of what it can help her achieve! 

T for Technology


       Terri Fry Kasuba

      Terri Fry Kasuba



Terri's patterns are also available on everything from iPhone cases to notecards! You can help to support STEAM learning that respects girls as thinkers, problem solvers, and innovators when you purchase items from Terri's STEAM collection. For a limited time, 100% of artist proceeds (for TECHNOLOGY) will go to Pretty Brainy®, a nonprofit organization dedicated to boosting girls' interest in STEAM.

Thought Starters

Interested in starting a discussion? Here are some quotes and videos to inspire you!

We must understand what girls value and appeal to those values academically... 
Let's create environments where girls can collaborate and bond with one another over problem solving that they value and that values them.
Watch Heidi Olinger, Founder/CEO, Pretty Brainy
When you put your first few lines of code together and suddenly it says Hello World! That moment is indescribable... Everyone wants to play. Everyone wants to invent. Everyone wants to create. And code allows you to do that. It doesn’t matter whether you’re a girl or a boy. 
Watch Ayah Bdier, Founder/CEO, littleBits

In order to dream big in the field of future fashion, I think it’s essential to know a little bit about code.
Watch Maddy Maxey, Creative Apparel Technologist



Style Girlfriend: Shaping the Style of the Modern Man in the Coolest Way Possible

I first heard about Megan Collins and Style Girlfriend from my brother-in-law, and from the minute I checked out stylegirlfriend.com, I was hooked!

What started out as a simple favor for a pal several years ago has now blossomed into a popular style and lifestyle resource for men. With her funny, easygoing approach, wide range of topics and killer eye for what looks good on a guy (and, thankfully, what doesn't), Megan has created a full-service resource of sorts for men looking for advice on anything from fashion to fitness to grooming.

Wondering how to pull off a turtleneck? She's got your back. Thinking of taking up Pilates? She has some tips. Can't figure out why the heck you really need to use conditioner? Just check with Style GF!

What's even cooler? While, yes, her tips and advice are primarily geared toward men, that doesn't mean Megan doesn't connect with a female audience as well. Check out the Borrowed From the Boys section of her site to see for yourself!

I recently caught up with Style GF to discuss how she became -- and how she feels about being -- an expert on men's style and lifestyle.

You mention on your site that you started Style Girlfriend as a favor to a friend. How did you position yourself as the authority in men’s lifestyle, and how did Style GF evolve into the site it is today?

Completely by accident! When Style Girlfriend got its start, I was in the middle of leaving a career in advertising, taking on any freelance writing gigs I could get. At the time, a friend was starting a custom suiting business and asked me to write a weekly column just to help him get more content on his site.

“Totally! But I don’t know anything about men’s fashion...is that okay?” I asked.

“Sure, just write about what women like to see guys wearing,” he replied.

Just like that, I realized that, yep, I had strong opinions about that and could definitely write about them. It was a huge light bulb moment for me, and really informed the Style Girlfriend perspective -- that of a girl who just wants to see guys dress well, not necessarily a “fashion expert.” I don’t think most guys care about “fashion” anyway. They simply want to leave the house each morning dressed to impress. Which is perfect, because that’s how I feel about clothes, too.

Of course, now I feel more comfortable identifying myself as a style resource (if not “expert”) but that’s how a chick with zero experience in the fashion industry was able to start a blog about men’s fashion. 

From those humble beginnings, SG really took off -- the column became syndicated nationally, and I eventually spun it off into its own website, stylegirlfriend.com, which is where it still lives today.

Where do you draw your inspiration from? How do you keep your content and ideas fresh and interesting?

I live in New York City, where just walking down the street gives me enough ideas to fill a month’s worth of stories. On one block alone, you’ll see examples of guys with amazing personal style, and also plenty of “What was he thinking?!” looks that inspire me to write about what not to wear (nicely, of course).

It’s funny, but I also get a lot of inspiration from women’s fashion magazines. They usually nail the “high/low” mix of aspirational pieces along with affordable options in a way that men’s magazines don’t always tackle.

For me, that’s how I shop -- an investment bag, with a top from Target, and jeans from a department store at the mall - and it’s how plenty of guys shop too. It’s not realistic to think that everything you buy for your wardrobe can break the bank. So to keep a guy’s shopping budget in mind helps me come up with outfit ideas and inspiration that are accessible to the audience.

We think that one of the main attractions of Style GF is that while it’s geared mainly toward men, it’s also super appealing to women. How did you build your audience, and what’s your secret to remaining relatable to everyone? 

The secret (that’s not really a secret) is that I’m shopping the way my readers shop. I’m saving up for a splurge item, checking out the clearance racks, and building a wardrobe piece by piece, not in huge, movie-montage-set-to-a-pop-song shopping sprees. That puts me in a great position of being able to help guide readers as they build a wardrobe in the same, step by step, way.

Also, I don’t claim to have all the answers. I’m exploring my own personal style and encountering the same shopping obstacles my readers are. I’m just more willing to talk about it than a lot of fashion editors or bloggers out there who want to seem like they already know it all. Grousing about trying on jeans, or showing off a recent sale find -- that’s relatable to both guys and girls.

Speaking of which, what kind of response has Style GF gotten from women? We bet so many girlfriends out there are absolutely loving you!

Women love Style Girlfriend! I hear from so many female readers who are 1) passing along articles to the men in their lives, and 2) getting inspiration for their own wardrobes, which is so awesome. SG isn’t about trends or the latest sneaker drop or bragging about a perfect closet (and life), it’s about acknowledging that we can all try a little harder, and providing the shortcuts, tips, and tricks to getting there. That’s useful for men and women alike.

You released an e-book this summer, which is a new and different challenge! What was it like to transition Style GF from a blog to a book?

It was daunting, but ultimately really satisfying! Some of the book’s contents were pulled from existing pieces on Style Girlfriend -- articles on fit, grooming, accessories; and essays on my own personal style evolution. Thankfully, I’m a pretty organized person -- I was never the student cramming for a test or finishing an essay the night before -- so I just broke up the rest of the work into really small (like, teeny-tiny) tasks to keep things manageable. If I had thought too much about the fact that I was WRITING A BOOK, I probably never would have finished it!

We love your hilarious presence on Twitter! What kind of impact has social media had on Style GF? Does your audience influence your content?

Oh wow, thank you! Social media is definitely a continuing education for me. Obviously a lot of the stuff I’m putting out there is followers to check out the latest and greatest on Style Girlfriend -- “Today on SG, 5 fall coats you’ve gotta try on…” -- that kind of thing.

But I have found that followers love hearing more about my life, and the day to day of running Style Girlfriend, so things like what I’m wearing, or where I’m traveling -- or yes, what I’m thinking -- inevitably find their way into the mix.

Which other women in the industry inspire you? Who are your professional role models?

There’s of course some amazing female editors out there -- Nic Screws, previously with Esquire and now at Bloomberg, Sandra Nygaard at Men’s Health -- and I look to them for inspiration in how to gracefully make it as a woman in a “boys only” kind of club.

Further, as an entrepreneur running her own business (because that’s exactly what Style Girlfriend is at this point!),  I also really find myself drawn to learning from those who have grown successful businesses for themselves -- Sophia Amoruso of Nasty Gal, Brit Morin of Brit + Co. But I also just read Ben Horowitz (from vc firm Andreesen Horowitz)’s book “The Hard Thing About Hard Things” and was totally inspired. I’m an equal opportunity admirer.

So, what’s next for Style Girlfriend? (Beyond the e-book, of course!)

Plenty! I’m hiring on staff and looking to really grow the verticals on Style Girlfriend this year. “Personal Style” is actually this huge umbrella topic, and so much more goes into it than just what you wear. It’s how you decorate your home, the effort you put into your fitness, it’s knowing how to pair wine with food. It’s everything! Stepping up your style game is really a 360-degree process, and I want SG to be the one-stop shop for guys looking to do just that.


Visit Style Girlfriend for yourself: http://www.stylegirlfriend.com

Follow Style Girlfriend on Twitter: @StyleGF

Full STEAM Ahead: Changing Patterns for Future Innovation

A future of global innovation requires the effort of a large and diverse community of minds. That means attracting more (a lot more) girls to the fields of science, engineering, technology, arts, and math, or STEAM.* With this in mind, [Re]Designing Women is partnering with artist Terri Fry Kasuba to create a monthly series of whimsical illustrations that explore each STEAM discipline and the challenge of how to get girls interested and engaged. 

S is for SCIENCE

With S is for Science, Terri tackles the idea that to be equal does not mean to be the same. Topics or objects that are typically considered “girly” are no less worthy of our attention and can, in fact, be an effective way to inspire and attract our future scientists.

Go full STEAM ahead on all of your devices by downloading S is for SCIENCE wallpapers. You can also support the cause when you purchase items from Terri's STEAM collection! For a limited time, 100% of artist proceeds will go to Pretty Brainy®, a nonprofit organization dedicated to boosting girls' interest in STEAM.



S is for SCIENCE. Terri Fry Kasuba. October 2014. Mobile Wallpaper. CLICK IMAGE TO DOWNLOAD MOBILE PATTERN


Terri Fry Kasuba is an artist worthy of Role Model status herself. Follow Terri on Instagram for nonstop inspiration!

Watch and learn: How to get girls to like STEM: Heidi Olinger at TEDxBocaRaton
(Follow Heidi on Twitter 
@prettybrainy )

STEM to STEAM is a RISD-led initiative promoting the idea that design training can lead to more creative problem solving. As a creative professional working in the technology field, I’ve been lucky to participate in an ongoing Design Thinking Initiative with former RISD president John Maeda and I’ve seen firsthand how Design Thinking can inspire innovation and change. 


Expand Your Role Models: 5 More Women You Need to Know

Jessica Hische: F.K.A. THAT DROP CAP GIRL

Jessica’s personal project, Daily Drop Cap, gained her a massive internet following. But her incredible success is quite obviously due to her passion, drive, and talent. To view more of Jessica’s work, visit http://jessicahische.is/ or follow her on Twitter: @jessicahische


Margo Chase: THE ARTISAN

Margo and her team are behind some of the most well-known logos in the music and entertainment industry. Plus, her résumé also includes over a dozen typefaces. To view more of Margo’s work, visit http://www.chasedesigngroup.com/


Sarah Parmenter: THE MOLD BREAKER

After deciding to pursue design full-time at age 19, Sarah is now a renowned web designer and speaker. She also runs a 3-person, all-female design studio called You Know Who. To view more of Sarah’s work, visit http://www.sazzy.co.uk/about/ or follow her on Twitter: @sazzy



After 6 years working for Tibor Kalman, Emily co-founded a multidisciplinary design studio, Number 17, with her friend Bonnie Siegler in 1993. Now a partner at Pentagram, Emily has done everything from branding to motion graphics to packaging. You can follow her on Twitter: @emilyoberman


Yesenia Perez-Cruz: THE YOUNG GUN

Yesenia has taken the web design world by storm, starting with a five year stint at Happy Cog. With big-name clients like Zappos and MTV already under her belt, you can tell she’s only just getting started. Follow her on Twitter: @yeseniaa




Speaking Up: Kat Gordon on the Rise of Female Creative Leadership

“Innovate!” It’s a call to action we Creatives hear on a daily basis. But what can we get from a room full of people in the same situation, validating instead of challenging each other? We can’t expect anything really new. 

Building a team of diverse voices is one way to jumpstart ideas while meeting the actual needs of varied consumer segments. So why do so many supposedly creative companies and agencies still not get it? New and different can’t be expected to perpetually emerge from same old.

While working for 20 years as a Copywriter/Creative Director, Kat Gordon continued to experience this issue firsthand and decided to do something about it. She discovered through her research that (in 2012) women represented just 3% of Creative Directors. This startling fact inspired the conference name – a name that Kat hopes will need to change.

The 3% Conference addresses the imbalance resulting from a lack of diversity in advertising. Over the past two years it has become more than a conference. It’s a movement driven by a highly engaged community of men and women.  

The 3%

You started the 3% Conference in 2012... What meaningful changes have you seen the advertising industry go through in the last 2 years?

We just released some research based upon the original 3% number and female CDs now account for 11% – a 319% increase. So I see female creatives staying in the field and getting more recognition. I was also thrilled when the Art Directors Club launched its 50/50 Initiative, inviting other award shows to pledge to have half their judges be women. Lastly, I was proud to participate in a new program that Cannes put on called “See It. Be It” and serve as a speaker on three panels. This initiative makes sure female creative leaders are more celebrated at this important international creative festival. 

Being a Catalyst

Women are often told to “speak up” when they realize they’re in a biased environment. But when a woman is working in this kind of situation, being heard is very difficult. Changing an environment from the inside can seem almost impossible. What actions do you recommend that women can take other than the difficult path of finding a new job, or even working in another area and trying to fight bias from the outside?

What frustrates me about so many of the recent headlines about gender bias is that the onus always seems to be left on the woman: how to combat it, call it out, or use tactics around it. I think it’s time to change the conversation. As more and more businesses realize the bottom-line benefits of women in leadership, then those in charge – who recruit, hire, promote and manage women – should be given training to help them check these biases, many of which are subconscious. Both men and women are susceptible to gender bias and could benefit from training to dismantle stereotypes.

Just this weekend, the NY Times published a piece that showed that employees assume women who are mothers will be less productive, yet assume the opposite for Dads. There’s no proof that productivity suffers from parenthood, but we still make these assumptions and they unfairly affect women and help men. The more that we can make bias everyone’s problem, and create systems to reveal bias through research + HR results, the more women won’t need to speak up or will feel empowered to do so if there is an issue.

The Confidence Gap

I’ve been reading a lot lately about a confidence gap between men and women. While men tend to overestimate their abilities and performance, women will typically underestimate both. At the same time, studies show that in general more men are promoted based on potential, but women usually have to prove themselves first. This doesn’t say much for companies’ confidence in women. What strategies can be employed by female advertising and design professionals to help break this cycle?

Business coach Tara Mohr just wrote an interesting piece on this for the Harvard Business Review. She conducted her own survey to see if the oft-given reason why women won’t apply for jobs is due to confidence and she uncovered something fascinating. Over a thousand men and women, predominantly American professionals, were asked “If you decided not to apply for a job because you didn’t meet all the qualifications, why didn’t you apply?” According to the self-report of the respondents, the barrier to applying was not lack of confidence. In fact, for both men and women, “I didn’t think I could do the job well” was the least common of all the responses. Only about 10% of women and 12% of men indicated that this was their top reason for not applying. What did hold them back? 46% of men and 40% of women cited they didn’t apply because they didn’t think they’d be hired since they didn’t meet all the qualifications and didn’t want to waste their time and energy. These people thought the required qualifications were exactly that – required – and not optional. This research reminds me of another survey where women were just as likely to negotiate salary as their male counterparts when the job posting listed “salary negotiable.”

So for female advertising and design professionals, I suggest you consider required qualifications as somewhat elastic and throw your hat in the ring for virtually anything of interest. And for those who want to attract and hire female ad talent, write job postings that use less rigid language than you may have used previously.

Gender Blindness vs. Gender Intelligence

As pathfinders like yourself bring long-term problems into focus and make gender bias more visible, there may be signs of companies shifting from gender blindness to gender intelligence. Is there a risk of stereotyping women? How is progress identified?

Gender does not equal women. Gender equals men and women. So gender intelligence needn’t mean that women are seen separately from men, but as a valuable part of the puzzle. The companies with the greatest GIQ (Gender IQ) will win because they will understand how to attract and retain male and female talent, giving them a competitive edge in the talent war.

Leaning In

I’ve heard a number of women say we’ve leaned in far enough. That we need to lean on men to sign on and help make change now. What do you think?

I agree. Too many companies have women’s leadership groups that are all women. When women get together to talk about women, it’s an echo chamber. We need more “manbassadors” – men who understand the business value of tapping all the talent and who champion women publicly.

On Advertising

You regularly review ads – the worst receiving a “wet blanket” rating and the best a “warm blanket.” When it comes to the relatively new female empowerment trend in advertising, are there companies that "get it" emerging? Can you discuss some companies that you feel are doing it right?

I was quoted in several articles recently about this new wave of female empowerment advertising. My take is that it feels a bit akin to the “greenwashing” that companies were doing ten years ago in the face of America’s love affair with all things organic. Today, companies are “pinkwashing” to try to appeal to female consumers. But the real indicator of a brand that supports women won’t be found in an ad campaign. It will be found in how many women sit on their board, if they’ve closed the pay gap, if they offer maternity and paternity leave, and other indicators that are harder to uncover. I like what Vitamin W is doing to help female consumers gauge how companies stand on metrics like this and use it to inform their shopping habits.

As for brands I see walking the talk, the first one that comes to mind is Levi's, and the work they do around women's health in their manufacturing locations. I think it's really genuine, and it's seen real results. Plus, I've publicly credited their attention to female consumers in ways that show respect.

Companies like The Gap and Whole Foods that publish salaries and institute equal pay for men and women are earning goodwill with female consumers. So are companies like Costco and Starbucks that pay a living wage and have health insurance, which helps women and families.

AT&T has impressed me with its dedication to women and STEM. I attended an event where they showcased one of their female engineers who has 156 patents to her name. They're doing a great job supporting the women in their ranks and inspiring young girls with what's possible. 

Where is your greatest hope in work-environment change for women coming from?

From data. I am perhaps the only advertising creative director who started as a market researcher. I love numbers, understand them, and trust them to guide creative choices. I have yet to read a single piece of data that indicates that women achieving parity in the workforce has a downside. It’s all upside. Profits soar, workplaces get more fun, clients are happier, and employee tenure increases. That is about the most hopeful news I can think of.



Related: Watch The 3% Conference's "What makes a great Creative Director?"

In addition to being the Founder of The 3% Conference, Kat Gordon is the Founder/Creative Director at Maternal Instinct

The 3% Conference will take place in San Francisco November 3 and 4 this year. 

Can’t make it but still want to make a difference? Start by downloading 50 Things Your Agency Can Do Right Now to Drive the 3% Number Upward.

Follow the 3% Conference on Twitter and Facebook.

What We're Reading: #GirlBoss


I think that part of the reason Nasty Gal has been so successful is because my goals were never financial ones. I believed in what I was doing.
— Sophia Amoruso

We’ve talked about Lean In, a book that’s so hugely popular it’s actually started (or helped to re-ignite) a modern women’s movement. Have you read it? Of the women I’ve spoken to who haven’t, a common assumption is that Sheryl Sandberg is too successful to be able to relate in any meaningful way to those of us without corporate jets at our disposal. In fact, before we read it for our blog, we shared a similar sentiment. Obviously after reading it we felt otherwise, but maybe you want some advice from a different type of role model. Perhaps Sophia Amoruso is the #GirlBoss you’re looking for. Nasty Gal founder Sophia Amoruso’s book lives up to its claim “By the end of the last chapter you’ll practically be screaming, ‘Where is some work!?! I want some work and I want to do it now!’”

Amoruso hasn't set out to start a movement or write a manifesto. But #GirlBoss is more than just an inspiring success story. In this book she shares the hard-won lessons of her journey from "freegan" to millionaire businesswoman, along with advice from other successful #GirlBosses. Even the title is a clever way to address her readers and fans in an empowering way that encourages action (not to mention a ton of business boosting social media buzz).

You’d think the CEO of a multi-million dollar fashion brand would tell a pretty slick story, but in this book Amoruso honestly talks about her struggle, hard work (she started Nasty Gal as an eBay seller, btw), risk-taking, and even failures. Especially failures. As designers we hear a lot about embracing mistakes as a part of the process, but rarely is this advice accompanied by a concrete example of how or why it's important. #GirlBoss is a real-life case study of how sometimes the path to success isn’t immediately obvious and the only way to figure out what’s right is to learn what isn’t.

There’s a lot of great advice in this book, some of it practical and tactical, some of the big picture variety. Here are some of the major themes so that (while you're waiting for your newly ordered copy of #GirlBoss to arrive) you can get a head start at being a #GirlBoss. 

If you believe in yourself, other people will believe in you too.

This is the type of statement I’d normally call shenanigans on. Like those posters that say things like “If you can dream it, you can achieve it.” Except she's not saying that if you believe in yourself you’ll automatically succeed. In Amoruso’s case, believing in herself meant having the confidence to stay focused and work incredibly hard at something until she knew her business inside and out. The confidence that comes from knowing you know your stuff is a powerful thing.

There are secret opportunities hidden in every failure.

Sophia Amoruso learned early on not to try to “get along” forever in something that didn’t suit her. Maybe ADD was her guide, but it worked in a positive way, never allowing her to get complacent in a situation that wasn’t going anywhere. In a relatively short time she tried her hand at just about everything and sometimes failed miserably. Trying a lot of things that didn't work probably helped her uncover what did work more quickly, and made it more meaningful when she finally figured out what she was passionate enough about to spend every waking minute working on. What this lesson comes down to is if you’re afraid to fail, you might miss out on the new idea or experience that could bring your biggest success yet.

Own Your Style

This success story might seem unlikely if you just looked at Sophia Amoruso’s resume on paper. And she didn’t get a whole lot of encouragement from other people. But she stuck with what she loved, worked super hard, ignored the naysayers and embraced what made her unique. You can’t be a stand out success if you’re only focused on fitting in.


Sophia Amoruso is the founder, Chief Executive Officer and Creative Director of Nasty Gal.

Follow Sophia on Twitter @sophia_amoruso

Read about the #GirlBoss Foundation, a grants program providing women in the worlds of design, fashion, music, and the arts with financial endowments to achieve their goals.




Women's Work: MoMA's Designing Modern Women 1890-1990

This week I took a field trip to New York to check out Designing Modern Women 1890-1990 at the Museum of Modern Art. It looks like the MoMA is responding to criticism in recent years of its scarcity of work by female artists. This exhibit explores the integral role women have played in shaping modern ideas of art, design and lifestyle in the twentieth century. The pieces on display tell a story of emancipation; of women redesigning everyday life and helping to change what it means to be a woman in modern society. The show runs until September 21, so there’s still time to go see it for yourself. In the meantime, here are some highlights.


Designing Modern Women 1890-1990 showcases women's creativity not only as professional designers, but also as clients, consumers, performers and educators.


The Arts and Crafts movement of the late 1800s raised the visibility of the decorative arts. This, along with new social freedoms, empowered women to explore opportunities in areas historically dominated by men. Design with women in mind as well as design by women for women and children began to emerge as important segments of the decorative arts field. 


In postwar years, new prosperity inspired a taste for modern design and decor. Eva Zeisel's houseware designs, including Folding Chair (1949), were exhibited at the MoMA during this time.



By mid-century, the relatively new focus on design for women brought about major changes in home design. Rather than being ignored as an unimportant room for "women's work," the kitchen became a major source of inspiration and change. Charlotte Perriand's innovative kitchen design for Le Corbusier’s Unité d’Habitation apartment building in Marseille (completed in 1952) was created with the intention of improving women's lifestyles and meeting the changing needs of the modern woman in the early 1950s. 


In the 1960s, cultural changes encouraged more experimental design by increasingly empowered women. Brightly colored consumer product design reflected the optimism and newness of a decade seeking to liberate itself from the past.


This exhibit explores the evolution of what it means to do "women's work." Even as the show progresses from 1890-1990, the phrase becomes obsolete. But a new meaning for "women's work" emerges: That as creative women, we have a responsibility to challenge social convention, facilitate change, and continue to design a better future for the next generations of modern women.

Designing Modern Women 1890-1990 runs through September 21, 2014 | 




What We're Reading: Lean In


I know I'm a little late to the Lean In party, but I'm so glad I decided to make an appearance! Honestly, several times while reading Lean In, I kept thinking to myself, "Okay, Sheryl Sandberg SERIOUSLY needs to get out of my head." She touched upon so many of my own thoughts, concerns, hopes and goals that I'm almost convinced she wrote this book specifically for me.

That's what's so cool about Lean In as both a book and a cultural phenomenon -- knowing that there are lots of ladies out there that have felt, are feeling, or will at some point feel the same way I do. Sheryl dives right into many common workplace themes that we've seen for years and years, breaking them down and essentially empowering women everywhere to thrive in both their professional and personal lives. To me, the true beauty of this book is the sense of camaraderie it brings out among women as a whole. It also makes me want to be best friends with Sheryl herself. Still working on that part!

While I'm pretty sure every woman will connect to various sections of this book in different ways, listed below are some of my personal takeaways from Lean In:

Don't be afraid to take the lead and sit at the table
“…feeing confident -- or pretending that you feel confident -- is necessary to reach for opportunities. It's a cliché, but opportunities are rarely offered; they're seized."

"Taking initiative pays off. It is hard to visualize someone as a leader if she is always waiting to be told what to do."

It's okay to get emotional
"Sharing emotions builds deeper relationships. Motivation comes from working on things we care about. It also comes from working with people we care about. To really care about others, we have to understand them -- what they like and dislike, what they feel as well as think. Emotion drives both men and women and influences every decision we make. Recognizing the role emotions play and being willing to discuss them makes up better managers, partners, and peers."

Don't forget about your personal life
"People often pretend that professional decisions are not affected by their personal lives. They are often afraid to talk about their home situations at work as if one should never interfere with the other, when of course they can and do."

Nobody's perfect all the time
"Another one of my favorite posters at Facebook declares in big red letters, 'Done is better than perfect.' I have tried to embrace this motto and let go of unattainable standards Aiming for perfection causes frustration at best and paralysis at worst."

Let yourself accept success
"Owning one's success is key to achieving more success."


Sheryl Sandberg is currently the Chief Operating Officer at Facebook. She has appeared on Fortune's 50 Most Powerful Women in Business list and Time's list of the 100 Most Influential People in the World. 

To learn more about Sheryl and Lean In, visit http://leanin.org/

Follow Sheryl on Twitter: @sherylsandberg



Designing Disruption: Creating the Rent the Runway Experience

Until recently, I lived by the rule that if I bought an expensive dress, I had to think of at least three occasions for wearing it. Practical, but so boring. Like a majority of women, my experience with high-end fashion began and ended with a daydream-inducing browse though a fashion magazine or Tumblr blog.

Then came Rent the Runway. Co-founders and Harvard Business grads Jennifer Hyman and Jennifer Fleiss shifted the rules of luxury fashion from ownership to membership, instantly changing the definition of attainability, along with our expectations of online retail. 

What goes on behind the scenes to create this game-changing experience? I chatted with Rent the Runway’s Creative Director, Ashley Seidman, to find out.


The idea of membership over ownership is one of the biggest trends we’re seeing in commerce, and Rent the Runway has helped set it in motion by making the typically inaccessible world of high fashion accessible to all. Has this goal affected your decision-making when it comes to the design of the shopping experience?

As a brand, we try to balance the accessibility with aspiration. We’ve designed the shopping experience to be easy and engaging for our user, while still maintaining the aspirational quality of the designer products we carry. If she’s about to put on a Vera Wang gown, the shopping experience should add to that magic.

What goes into creating that magic? Are you a part of the product curation process? Is it a collaboration?

There’s a ton of collaboration at Rent the Runway. Our fashion and analytics teams constantly work together to curate the products we feature by seasonality, trends, and customer engagement to ensure that the shopping experience is relevant. When it comes to larger initiatives like a catalog, our fashion and creative teams join forces. We typically start by reviewing the season’s buy and identifying key trends and styles, at which point I’ll work with our stylists, art directors and copywriters to pull together the stories and placements.

  Photo Credit: @rent_the_runway

Photo Credit: @rent_the_runway

One of our guiding principles at eBay is “Be the customer.” How about Rent the Runway? Have you used the service yourself? Has that informed your decision-making as Creative Director for the brand?

I couldn’t agree more. I’m an avid renter and feel as if using the service myself has influenced many brand decisions, such as making enhancements to the site, packaging and overall brand.

Rent the Runway is now opening brick-and-mortar storefronts and showrooms. This is a unique challenge, considering most companies start offline and then build an online store. How has the online business informed your vision for the offline shopping experience?

Focusing on the online experience the past few years has given us a definite advantage when it comes to brick-and-mortar. We’ve learned so much about our customer – her style, how she likes to shop, and what occasions she is shopping for. We’re able to take the best parts of our online experience and bring them to life in our stores. Giving her the ability to try on dresses, feel the quality of the garments, and get to know our brand in a physical sense is paramount. 

Quite a few designers have created capsule collections for Rent the Runway. How do you partner with them to bring their vision of the collection to life on the site?

I love the opportunity to work with our designers to bring their vision to life on Rent the Runway. It’s often a very cool experience because our fashion team works directly with the designer to create the collection, leveraging their knowledge of our customers and what they are looking for. We shot 2 beautiful capsule collections last year for Bibhu Mohapatra and Moschino, and we supported both launches with digital lookbooks.

 Photo Credit: @rent_the_runway

Photo Credit: @rent_the_runway

Your deep understanding of the customer and her needs really seems to be inspiring not only relevant, but innovative experiences. How else do your customers help shape your decisions for the brand?

Two years ago, we launched Our Runway, a unique social shopping platform that was largely inspired by our customers, allowing them to shop by photos of real women in dresses available for rent. We weren’t sure how much information women would be willing to share about their body types or how a specific dress fit on our site, but we saw a lot of that conversation happening organically offline and on our social channels, so we knew there was a need for it. User-generated content has exploded in the e-commerce world, and now photo reviews are definitely one the most popular features on our site. Our Runway is an opportunity for women to celebrate their experiences and pay it forward.

What advice would you give to designers who aspire to leadership roles such as yours?

Look for opportunities that intrigue you, be honest with yourself and go for it. I spent a wonderful 4 years at Ralph Lauren prior to Rent the Runway and found that I was ready for a new challenge. Rent the Runway seemed like a gamble at the time, being a small, recently launched startup, but experiencing the evolution of the business has been invaluable. This role has challenged me and helped me grow in so many ways. I have had the pleasure of building out a creative team, directing shoots with the most incredible talent, shaping an entire brand, and of course learning from my mistakes. I’m proud to be part of a company that’s on a totally innovative path, and four and a half years later I still get excited when people ask me where I work. That excitement and passion will carry into your work, and as a creative, there’s nothing better!



Rethink Your Role Models: 5 Women You Need to Know

Who's your favorite female graphic designer? Do you have one? Fantastic! No? You're not alone. Even with an education in art or design, a lot of us can't name many influential ladies, and it's not because they aren't out there. There are plenty of accomplished women who have helped to shape the design aesthetics, experiences, and trends we love. So what better topic for our inaugural post than a quick who's who starter course? Introducing your new role models!

Paula Scher: THE ICON

From her work at CBS Records to her legendary napkin sketch of the Citibank logo, Paula has been a force in the industry for over 30 years. To view more of Paula’s work, visit www.behance.net/PaulaScher


Jessica Walsh: THE IT GIRL

Protegé and partner to Stefan Sagmeister, Jessica has already accomplished so much at the young age of 27 – and it’s clear that she’s just getting started! To view more of Jessica’s work, visit www.behance.net/jessicawalsh or follow her on Twitter: @jessicawalsh



Louise founded her 3-person studio, Louise Fili, Ltd., in 1989. She is world renowned for her lettering, which is still done fully by hand. To view more of Louise’s work, visit www.louisefili.com or follow her on Twitter: @louisefili



As host of the first design podcast, co-founder of the first Masters program in branding, and president of the Design Group at Sterling Brands, Debbie is a true pioneer of female leadership in the industry. To view more of Debbie’s work, visit www.debbiemillman.com or follow her on Twitter: @debbiemillman


Ellen Lupton: THE CURATOR

As Curator of Contemporary Design at the Cooper Hewitt Smithsonian Design Museum, Ellen certainly has her finger on the pulse of the industry, simultaneously recognizing the current design greats while also helping to influence the next generation. To view more of Ellen’s work, visit www.elupton.com or follow her on Twitter: @ellenLupton


Inspired by these fabulous designers? So are we! Stay tuned as we reaffirm the importance of women in creative roles through spotlights, interviews, reviews and more!