bernhard willhelm nail polish


I’m something of a color freak. If a certain shade grabs me the right way, I will buy just about whatever that object is to obtain the color. That’s lead me to own a pretty bizarre collection of tiny boxes, various packaging campaigns for candies and soaps I’ve never used and every possible type of vase and glass that has that perfect translucent green or pink color. My color obsession went into full effect last week when I was killing time outside of Pok Pok in Manhattan. (Pause: we have a Pok Pok in NYC now? I know, it’s too good to be true!) I’d arrived a little too early to meet a friend and ended up popping around the corner to browse the racks at Maryam Nassir Zadeh. I can’t afford most things in that shop, but I luckily gravitated towards the few things that were in my budget. Namely, a great little set of nail polishes from Bernhard Willhelm that came in amazing reds, pinks and corals.


I’m not much of a beauty/makeup person, so I’d never even heard of Bernhard Willhelm. After some Googling I found that it’s a division of Uslu Airlines, which I naively assumed was some super progressive and fashion-forward travel company (actually a German fashion designer). It turns out it’s just the name of a cosmetic line that seems to now be popping up in every hipster shop and hotel around the country. I jumped right on the band wagon and took two bottles home with me in beautiful shades of coral and red (my official D*S colors these days). I couldn’t wait to wear them so I ended up painting them on my nails on the way out to dinner and waving my hands around like a lunatic until they dried. And when they did? Ooh-wee are they pretty. I don’t have pretty nails, so if that color can make my hands good they’re definitely worth investing in. The Bernhard Willhelm line has a wide variety of colors, but I think their reds and greens are the best. You can order them online at Ten Over Six in the US, and if you’re in Europe, Collette has the full collection online. Here’s to colorful nails everywhere…xo, grace

*Inspired by the discussion in this comment section, I’m starting a potluck lunch series in our Brooklyn office. If you’d like to sign up for more information, please leave your contact info here. Thanks- Grace

  1. Coco says:

    Comment overload! Not sure if this is going through or not, keep getting an error.

    Sometimes I think that focussing on what womens’ perceived collective issues are in business makes things worse, not better. All this, ‘let’s support each other in our endeavours because we are women’ actually only continues to set us apart from men. Do you see men sitting around wasting time caring what other people think of their success? Do you think a guy would give a moment’s notice to an annonymous comment on their blog or business? No, because they are too busy creating their success. Expend your energy where it counts!

    It really urks me when I see this – for eg in the women’s biz posts on this blog, where you highlight the success of women in business JUST because they are women. As if a woman being successful is such a big deal we need to fall over ourselves in amazement and applause. This attitude doesn’t do anyone any favours – it only serves to keep women in business as a kind of ‘stare and point’ side show act. Why do so many women feel the need for constant recognition? It is patronising and boorish. And it makes us all look silly.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Coco

      I couldn’t disagree more. I think men don’t expend energy on a lot of things female business owners do because they don’t have a lot of the same challenges and ceilings in place that create hurdles for their success. For example, I don’t think you’ll ever see a man get asked the question, “Do you know how to handle this invoice? Do you know what an RFP is? Do you know how to run this credit card number? Is there a man at your company I could talk to?”. I have been asked all those questions, more than once.

      In terms of something being “silly”, I think it’s silly to assume that women aren’t smart and strong enough to focus on running their businesses and addressing issues of sexism in their field at the same time.

      Also, no one on D*S has ever been highlighted just because they’re a woman running a business. They’re being highighlighted because they’re a woman running a successful or inspiring business. I would never support (or discourage) someone based on their gender alone.

      Grace

  2. La Domestique commented – “If you have to say you’re kidding, it’s not funny.”

    WISE WORDS that I will take to heart. I tend to use humor to mask my true feelings or say things that I’m too scared to say outright and as I mature, I realize I need to be careful about that.

    Great conversation, Grace. Thank you for being a forum for “eye candy” and also deep topics. Design*Sponge is so inspirational!

  3. Something must be in the air because I have been dealing with this very issue a lot lately.

    I think this is something that a lot of people in the public eye don’t talk about and at its core it comes down to jealousy. I think it is easier for people to judge a person based on their perceptions of them versus digging a little deeper to get to know them authentically. This is more relevant in person than online, because really how can we truly know a person just by following them online and yet we are so visible. As you mentioned, bloggers do put their best foot forward, but of course they do, this is a business.

    I am passionate and proud of the hard work I’ve put towards making my business “successful” in the past eight years but I don’t feel that others are less than because they have different pursuits and dreams. Relationships are the most important thing and I think we should build each other up so that we do become our best authentic selves in whatever it is we are pursuing.

  4. Wow this really started something! It’s great to discuss and bring things up. so yay for that!

    Thanks for the “digital” wave! Love that your in Greenpoint! Xx

  5. ElleSee says:

    Well said! Jealousy is a tough thing for all of us to deal with. I’ve even blogged about it myself.

    I would honestly never spend a lot of money on a bottle of nail polish, but I have to say that there is something to be said about quality. A $30 bottle of nail polish will probably last longer — on both your nails and in the bottle — than a cheaper bottle of nail polish — which requires more than 2 coats to look good, and chips the day you put it on. I’m a lot happier with my more expensive nail polishes than my cheaper ones. That goes for anything else I buy too.

    Cheers!

  6. Karen says:

    As a female business owner, I feel the same way. Like success needs to be apologized for and enjoyment of that success needs to be validated by demeaning it. I hate it. I’m proud of what I have spent years and countless hours building and I’m tired of feeling guilty for not being a starving artist who is only working for the love of the work. There is definitely an enormous double standard and it’s unacceptable. A man could go out and buy himself a Lamborghini and be congratulated but a woman buys nail polish and is undercut for it. Definitely not the way to encourage female business owners to reach for even greater successes. It’s long overdue that this was addresses in a public way. So thank you for that.

  7. Vanessa says:

    I think this is all ridiculous. I do not think that addressing an individual’s comment in the comments section of a post is an appropriate way to sound off about any kind of socio-economic trends you may be finding (regardless of who they effect).
    I enjoy this blog because there are many different columns on here that allow for a variety of topics to be addressed but all within the frame of DESIGN and creative living.
    I have to say that I am disappointed with this discussion and feel as though this is indulging the same type of catty behavior that you were so upset by in an article written about e-zines and bloggers in the NYT.

    Let’s keep the discussion about nail polish and the kaleidoscope of possibilities that we have today as appropriate polish colors!

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Vanessa

      You think addressing a comment left about me on my site is ridiculous? I’m afraid we’ll have to agree to disagree.

      While the original commenter most likely didn’t intend to create such a reaction, we all have to deal with the reaction to our words left in a public forum. I always find it odd that readers assume commenters are given the right to critique and respond, but I’m not.

      I think the degree to which this issue has struck a chord with other bloggers and business owners speaks volumes.

      Grace

  8. clotilde says:

    “Is there a man at your company I could talk to?” I just fell off my chair reading this. Have people really been asking you this question? It sounds right out of Madmen, and I can’t imagine how outraged it must have made you feel.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      clotilde

      that particular comment was in the 2nd year of running d*s, but yes, it happened. thankfully that company that asked the question has changed their tune, but it was pretty shocking when i first heard it.

      grace

  9. Jennifer says:

    I really love the quirky typography on these bottles!

    The packaging feels non gender specific to me, and I find this really interesting.
    As a rather tomboyish girl, the typeface alone appeals to me, like the product is intended for the tree-climbing type! The quirky colors just add to this. Do I want red nails? Heck no! Green, gold and grey are more like it!

  10. Jess says:

    Grace,
    I applaud you for all that you do. After reading this entire communique my respect for you has grown tenfold. The various and sundried attacks of both your integrity and opinions leaves me feeling slightly saddened that we, as women, still have such a long road to haul. Although this conversation began over a bottle (or two) of polish, you were forced to play your hand by taking the opportunity to shine a light on the elephant in the room. Thank you and keep up the great work!

  11. Well, it struck a chord with me! I can’t get over the comments people leave on blogs that are mean spirited and passive aggressive. I just read an article that talked about how some very popular blogs have shut down their comments based on negative comments from readers. It took away from the blogs original intent/message and it was influencing what was posted since the bloggers were so self aware about what they were posting.

    If you don’t have something nice to say, don’t say anything at all. Or if it is a serious issue, email the blogger! Take it offline.

    Grace, you do a kick ass job and I know it is a lot of work. You’re running a small business doing something you love. Living the dream. Good for you.

  12. Phoebe says:

    Grace, you were totally right when you said that I probably didn’t mean to open this can of worms! First off, let me attempt to rephrase my comments now that the appropriate amount of coffee has entered my system.
    “Hey Grace, just wanted to congratulate you on your ongoing success! If nail polishes at $30 a pop are in your budget, I’m assuming business is good. In all seriousness, I’m glad business is good! That is way too pricy for nail polish to me and my finances though. :( The seafoam on the bottom left and the gold are really pretty colors, I’d like to see those in a french manicure style!”
    I love your site and have been a daily follower for years now, and with all sincerity do I wish you a ton of success. You do a great job and you deserve the recognition and compensation that you get. Looking back at my early morning impulse comment I see it has way more sarcastic tones than is appropriate, and they seem directed at the wrong thing. My sarcasm wasn’t meant to be directed at your financial status (which is none of my business either way) or your success, it was meant to be directed at the cost of the product featured and I stand behind my criticisms in that direction.
    To me, nail polish is an inherently frivolous item and it comes in low on my list of priorities when it comes to budget. The whole idea of it even gives me a little bit of a twinge in my feminist conscience. From my perspective, $58 for two bottles of nail polish is crazy. As to giving back to the community, I haven’t done a bunch of research but from the look of their website it doesn’t look like the designers involved are struggling small time artisans. All this is my personal take on the product and purchase in question. Now who am I to say something judgmental about your decision to splurge and treat yourself to something nice? Don’t I occasionally spend silly amounts of money on frivolous items that catch my fancy? Guilty as charged. But if I wrote about it on the internet, I would expect that people might call me out on it. People attacking your right to financial success is one thing, but reasonable criticisms of your personal life choices are to be expected when you make them a matter of public record.
    Now, this is something that you probably have a lot more experience and knowledge of then me, as this is after all your job and I’m just a casual blog reader, but do you think that part of the reason behind more frequent personal criticisms you see of female bloggers may in part be because they tend to put more of their personal selves out there? Are male bloggers more reticent about their personal lives then their female counterparts? I don’t really read any male authored blogs (unless you count apt. therapy, but that’s more a multi author blog and I really only lightly browse there), so this is not really a theory I’m espousing or anything, more of a question/ point for further discussion.
    In conclusion, I promise not to comment before 11am anymore, and don’t pick at your nails! (I always unconsciously do the second it starts to chip.)

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Phoebe

      I appreciate your response and your continued involvement in this discussion. I value what you have to say and hope we’re able to come to an understanding about the message that comments about financial success (perceived and actual) can send.

      While I appreciate your attempt to revise your comment (which I wasn’t asking you to do, my apologies if it felt that way), you’re still including a phrase I think is the crux of my argument here, “If nail polishes at $30 a pop are in your budget, I’m assuming business is good. In all seriousness…” I still feel that you’re using a half-joking tone to inflict a level of guilt that is something I’ve seen around the web a lot over the past few years.

      I have seen those comments primarily left for and by women and I think it’s part of a (disappointing) trend of women criticizing other women’s success. Am I applying a level of gender commentary here? Yes. But I don’t think I’m accusing you of being “against your sex”. What I think I’m doing is drawing attention to some of the issues that I think your comment brings up. I generally assume that all commenters here are nice people and that (because we don’t all read blog comments for a living) the main issue is that most people don’t look very closely at the comments they leave, the tone in which they write them and the messages they might send. I don’t want to discourage people from leaving quick comments, but I do think I have the right as the owner of this blog to respond to commentary left on it- especially when it’s about me.

      I agree with your point that people who discuss their life and life choices online should expect people to eventually comment on them. I’ve been allowing and publishing comments like that about my life for almost eight years now. I will always allow that and think it’s worth noting that I’ve always allow negative and attacking comments about myself on Design*Sponge. That said, I think when commentary has an undercurrent to it that is indictative of a larger trend (one I think is negative and hurtful for women in business) I’m going to say something about it. I think part of being a responsible business owner is standing up for yourself and being willing to discuss things even when they’re tricky and uncomfortable.

      I know not everyone is going to agree with me and I certainly don’t expect that. I am glad that this post struck a chord and am thankful that people are discussing this topic in a way that allows us to learn from each other. My goal is always to express where I’m coming from and do my best to understand where others are coming from. I think we have a lot gain from that exchange and while we may not always end up on the same side of a disagreement or argument, I appreciate everyone’s right to speak up and say what’s on their mind.

      Grace

  13. liz says:

    Everyone should watch Mildred Pierce. It’s an HBO miniseries with kate winslet and evan rachel wood. A very interesting story about a woman starting her own business at the height of the depression, and her insane strange/competitive/just plain weird relationship with her daughter. Provides and interesting counterpoint while at the same time complimenting this discussion, and would make a really great “living in” post!!

    Happy Monday everyone!

  14. fabi says:

    Honestly, Vanessa! I don’t even think you gave the proper answer, Grace (I guess you didn’t even know what to say at this point). But let’s all agree that a nail polish post could be nice to some. But the whole discussion started here is actually brilliant! LET US NOT KEEP THE DISCUSSION ABOUT NAIL POLISH! Design – we should be aware, as Grace is – is all about economy, gender, prejudice and behaviour issues. Design is culture and culture embraces all that. Design is what we are and how we feel. I know exaclty what Grace feels when she talks about colours: I’m the same colour freak. And I love nail polish. But it’s very clear to me how the “comment section” discussion became far more serious and interesting than the original post. It’s a result of DesignSponge success among intelligente women. Congrats, Grace! You deserve it – you fought for it and won. LET US KEEP TALKING ABOUT POLISH AND ALL ELSE!!! xoxo, Fabi

  15. fabi says:

    by the way, sorry for the language… English is not my mother tongue and not my best subject… :)

  16. Grace,

    There are a lot of women (present company included!) who consider you a role model and aspire to build our businesses to become as successful as yours one day. We know what time and effort it takes to build a name, business & brand – good on you – don’t let them get to you!

  17. Phoebe says:

    Sorry, not to throw fat onto the fire, but if a man criticizes another man (on the internet or otherwise), does he immediately get accused of being against his sex and a destructive influence, or does his comment get assessed for validity and then considered or ignored based on its merit?
    I know as women we can be sensitive to this stuff because we’re often working against a lot of insidious negativity (and I could match you story for story on that kind of sexism, Grace), but isn’t it destructive to counter attack each other over perceived slights and minor disagreements? Doesn’t that just add to the problem and the stereotype?

  18. Grace says:

    Grace,
    Thanks for what you’ve brought up- I am a woman who runs my own business, and we work to employ women in the third world who have much less of a chance than you or I would at making a fair wage. Thanks for speaking out! Also, have you read Nicholas Kristof’s “Half the Sky”? I think you would love it, especially if you are interested in what is going on with women around the world.

    (A Different) Grace

  19. Vanessa C says:

    Grace,

    Thank you for your responses. I knew that I liked D*S before this post, but now I can also say that I respect and admire your ethics, integrity and beliefs. I appreciate being able to support a business that is run by people like you. Honestly, I’m surprised that people object to your responses or to you using this forum to have this kind of discussion. For me, the fact that you respond to people in your comments section and on twitter is one of the reasons why I keeping coming back to your site. You’ve kept the tone respectful, intelligent, and focused on the subject matter of peoples’ comments, not on the people themselves. Based on all of the above, I’ll be recommending D*S to everyone in my networks. Thanks.

  20. jenn says:

    I think something that you mentioned that has been missed (or at least not mentioned) in a lot of the comments, is that many times it also comes down to how an individual chooses to spend their money… success and salaries aside, regardless of how much money you do or don’t have, everyone chooses to spend that money differently. Some may choose to spend it on vacations, while others on objects. Some on services such as getting your hair done, or on living- the house (or other structure you choose) you live in, the vehicle you drive (or ride). Or, maybe you’ve chosen to spend it on having a bunch of kids or just eating out a lot. Everyone chooses differently, and that’s a great thing to be able to do that.

  21. Hilary says:

    Perhaps the reason these sort of comments keep appearing on women’s blogs is because women are tried to hold each other to a higher set of values?

    Perhaps there is a difference between criticizing each other’s success or calling into question whether the values we live/blog by help our society ethically, socially, economically, and environmentally.

    Clearly it is not up to each of us to furnish guilt upon each other, but isn’t our collective conversation as a society right now partially about how much any of us really needs – and what happens to others when we buy more nail polish, or rugs, or apartments, or even start another business.

    Part of what I look for in a business owner I want to get to know, or a blog I want to read, is whether I’m encountering someone who is willing to share this level of self-reflection and social consciousness. I know it has mattered to me when I have encountered bloggers getting serious about – and vulnerably revealing – their consumption (i.e. tracking purchases). I also know I have unfollowed many a twitterer when post after post from them in my twitter feed seems completely out of touch with any and all context of the larger world around them.

  22. Ashley says:

    Not usually a commenter, but I must address the note that men are not as aware of criticism in their jobs, or that they don’t spend as much time worrying about it.

    My husband plays professional baseball. When those boys aren’t on the field playing ball, they’re at home, online, reading what bloggers/analysts/reporters had to say about it. And trust me, the reviews in sports are not implied or snarky, they are downright crushing. “This guy is going nowhere, he’s overrated, he’s not worth the money they pay him.” Can you imagine if those were the reviews you got after your hard work?

    The reason we’re having this discussion (albeit via comments) is because we’re women, we’re relational, we’re open books. And I love that. I love that a woman can hear something hurtful and say, “that stings.” Men internalize, over-analyze, and then rate themselves in comparison to each other. If women didn’t have the strength to be honest about their emotions, where would we be? This isn’t a “side show act.” This is us being real people who don’t hide behind the face of a polished final product. You’d be surprised how much men crave that freedom in their own careers.

  23. Cbaker says:

    I have enjoyed Design Sponge for a long time, not only for the great inspiration but also for the thoughtful and empowering messages about business. Of COURSE you should comment on your own blog, I’m here to read your thoughts, and I don’t think that should be limited to design content. Individuals can easily choose how to spend their time, and if they find that comments are not all about nail polish, they can move on or stay as they wish. Great work, Grace, I appreciate your words!

    Would you please also let us know how the nail polish stands up? If anything can remain chip free on my fingers for more than a few hours than it is worth its weight in gold and I’d love to splurge on some pretty colors!

  24. Coralie says:

    Grace:

    Congratulations on your success.

  25. fabi says:

    I really don’t think Phoebe meant to be harmful or agressive and we readers were pretty much more agressive to her. But it is a fact that the topic is important. As Grace said, sometimes what we say have unintented feelings. We all are more prejudicious than we wanted to be. It might be due to culture or upbringing or whatever, but ethics are on the base of it and ethic topics should interest everyone. Ethics have been constructed through time in forums such as this one.

  26. Diana says:

    Grace, I’m so glad you brought this up. These kind of comments are everywhere and, joke or no joke, the underlying issue is one that needs to be called out and discussed. To me, little digs at bloggers for earning a living from their work go hand in hand with the ubiquitous “I can’t believe they charge $X for that!” and “I could make that myself in five minutes/for ten bucks”–both of which are also common comment tropes that, intentionally or not, contribute to a climate of negativity where creators are denigrated and picked apart for, basically, having the temerity to do something and put a price on it.

    I’m sure many of the people who make these comments don’t intend it that way. To a certain extent the comments become an “amiright?” thing that perpetuates itself. And maybe the creator will never see them; maybe he or she is so successful that they don’t have to worry that commenters on a blog somewhere think their prices are unseemly. But who *is* reading those comments are other people, creators or people who want to create, and the message to them is constant pressure to underprice and undervalue themselves, to aim low and be humble and don’t ask for too much. It’s the wrong message but for too many people, especially women, it’s the one they’ll hear most often.

    I feel like for that to change we do have an obligation to remark on negativity when we see it, and encourage thoughtful discussion of the issues instead. So thanks for sparking this interesting conversation!

  27. n says:

    Expensive cosmetics aren’t necessarily better quality.

    Just saying.

  28. b says:

    grace,
    *clap clap clap*

    thank you for speaking those truths.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Inspired by the discussion in this comment section, I’m starting a potluck lunch series in our Brooklyn office. If you’d like to sign up for more information, please leave your contact info here. Thanks- Grace

  29. Grace – Brooklyn Potluck lunch series! Whoa, blown away with excitement! I signed up :)

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      thanks! i’m excited :)

      i think all of us could use more “real” connections/friends/support systems in person.

      grace

  30. Doug J. says:

    had a really wonderful time reading this discussion, even though I don’t use nail polish. Super thought provoking to say the least! Grace, you and your site/business are wonderful and inspiring and this discussion is so great (and necessary!).
    I was very excited to see the potluck lunch series and went to sign up – I just noticed its called “biz ladies lunches”… hope its ok that I signed up even though I am a biz male.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Doug

      Thank you for your support. This first series will be for women running their own businesses, but I’ll let you know when/if we expand. The goal of these lunches is to really create connections with other women who are going through the same issues, but I’d be happy to publicize any event you put together for men and women or point you towards other meetups that aren’t geared towards connecting women.

      Grace

  31. More real connections—yes, please! I’ll polish my nails for that + keep my chin up that no matter what my salary is, I’m fortunate enough to have the freedom to run my own business, the community to support it, and the pleasure to occasionally indulge my successes.

    Thanks for touching on this on-going issue—exactly what I needed to hear this week. Looking forward to the upcoming series, can’t wait!

  32. jenny says:

    When I saw this post I noticed the bottle shape and polish colours before I saw the logo and my initial though was that the post was about my favourite thrifty nail polish brand by Joe Fresh. They feature most of the same colours and more and are only 4 dollars a bottle. I love nail polish and have a pretty large collection of colours, Joe Fresh is my favourite for their colour palette, affordability and great quality. Not sure why there are so many similarities between the two but if anyone is looking for a thrifty option check out Joe Fresh! http://www.joefresh.com/en/product/nail-polish-classic-collection

  33. Anna says:

    I think this is a valuable discussion. However, I think it would have been more considerate to introduce this topic in a dedicated blog post instead of singling out Phoebe. Safe to say she probably feels pretty terrible today.

    A blog post would likely also attract more attention to this deserving topic than a comment thread could.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Anna

      I think it’s fitting and fair to respond to someone’s comment where they make it. I didn’t want to write a separate post on the topic (I’ve said my piece) and don’t feel I owe someone a private or separate response if they don’t begin the conversation that way.

      Grace

  34. Phoebe says:

    Ok, finally had time to read the comments other than Grace’s response to my comment, so Grace, this isn’t a direct response to you or your comments. You’ve been classy and you raise some reasonable points, some of which I agree with and some of which I disagree with but we’ve had a very adult back and forth about it, and I appreciate that. This is my reaction to the overall comments thread.

    Why is it ok for men to be competitive but women shouldn’t be (or at least with each other)? Competition drives innovation and progress. Competition can make us better *if we take it the right way*. I’m on an (all girl) roller derby team, and we are all super competitive, naturally. We want to be faster than the other girl, stronger than the other girl, and we want to win. We’re also all going to encourage each other at the end of the day, and sometimes criticize mistakes.
    It’s that balance between competition and criticism and encouragement that helps us get better. It’s all in how you take it. If my teammate says “Hey Phoebe! You left the line wide open back there! Watch it next time!” I can either take it as her saying I suck and get all sad about it and quit the team, or I can think “crap! I DO need to watch the line!” and let it be a reminder to me to try to do it better next time. Or if the situation was different, I could think “yah know, I was watching the line, that wasn’t really the problem this time, but that is a good reminder to all of us to keep on that”.
    My criticism of Grace was not even in this category, though. I wasn’t saying anything about her blog or the way she runs her business or anything that lead to her success. It was more like if one of my derby teammates said to me, “hey, I just ordered a set of atom alloy hubs, so psyched!” and I responded “Wow, did you get a promotion or something?! Those things are pricey. But they do look pretty sweet…” I’m joking about my opinion that her purchase was expensive while also complimenting her apparent financial success and acknowledging the appeal of the item in question. That’s pretty much a breakdown of my original comment, and I don’t see anything objectionable about those sentiments.
    I think that being afraid to criticize our fellow women on issues where we honestly disagree because we might be labelled as catty bitches is a much worse problem than having to withstand some occasionally misguided criticism now and again. Based on my personal observation, on this blog (and even on this comment thread), as well as on other blogs written by and commented on by women, 95% of comments are along the lines of “you go girl, I totally agree, you’re awesome!”. 4% disagree with the poster without attacking her (overtly or subtly) based on gender, and maybe 1% are assholes who say something mean.
    Like I said before, I’m just a casual blog browser, so maybe my guesstimate statistics are way off and legitimate snarky bitchiness is really a problem, but I don’t see it. I also was discussing this topic with my husband who frequents a much more typically male-centric area of the internet, and he says that criticism based on spending habits is totally common across the gender line as well. In a place like the internet you are going to have people of very different socioeconomic backgrounds viewing and commenting on the same subjects, and so disagreements about value, spending and income are bound to occur. It’s not a gender specific thing.
    As women, I believe that if we don’t change our attitudes on how we accept (or reject and ignore) criticism, we’re just adding fuel to the stereotype that women are delicate flowers who you can’t say anything even slightly negative to, or they’ll take it the wrong way. We’re playing right into the extremely detrimental perception that women are emotional and irrational and quick to jump on your case about things, which causes us to be treated unfairly in the first place.

    1. Grace Bonney says:

      Phoebe

      I truly appreciate your continued participation in this conversation.

      While I disagree with your breakdown of the original comment and the idea that women being in touch with their emotions is somehow weak or negative, the only thing I want to call out in greater detail is the idea that responding to criticism or evaluating its motives is not handling or accepting criticism. I think part of understanding to “take” criticism (and ultimately deciding which battles are worth having) is learning to understand where it comes from and what it’s truly saying. I feel I’ve gotten a deeper take on your point of view and while we’re on the “agree to disagree” track, I appreciate that you continued to join the conversation and express your point of view.

      I’m not trying to stick my hands over my ears and ignore what you’re saying, and I certainly don’t want anyone else to do that. But I do think that competition and criticism are healthiest when they’re constructive and stripped of passive-aggressive tones or implications. I know you’ve clarified that you didn’t intend that, but I feel strongly that those tones were present.

      That said, I have no desire to take this conversation in a more negative direction and hope that everyone has been able to learn something, speak their mind and understand where various women in this industry are coming from with their comments. Your comment may have inspired an intense discourse, but it also inspired a positive new project- a lunch meetup group here in Brooklyn where we’ll build new friendships and support systems with other women running creative businesses. For that I am incredibly grateful.

      Thank you to everyone who’s commented here and I look forward to seeing some of you in person at our potluck lunches.

      Grace

  35. drae27 says:

    I am impressed that the comments on this post stayed so civil and thoughtful, in no small part due to Grace’s integrity and commitment to creating that atmosphere. And while many important points were made on various subjects I’d like to change the focus and say…what???!!! Pok Pok in NYC!!!????
    We just returned from a trip to Portland and on Grace’s recommendation we stopped by Pok Pok for a glorious, spicy feast. New Yorkers, let me tell you…we are lucky.
    While we were waiting for our table we were admiring the color the exterior of the restaurant. We have been searching for just the right color for our 1930’s cape. The manager overheard us, went into the back and pulled out an old can of the paint so that we could get the name: BM Night Horizon, a rich, dark brown. How cool is that?

  36. Erin O says:

    Could we also, at some point, address all of the comments on design/lifestyle blogs that are filled with outrage OUTRAGE! at the price of something?! Everyone who works in the design world, successful or not, is trying to hustle and put out the best work they can. (Hopefully.) If you aren’t mass-producing things in suicidal factories in Asia, then sh*t costs money. And if we want to support the people that make our world inspiring and beautiful, then we need to fork over our money. Leave the price bashing to Walmart and just enjoy the pretty.

  37. Susy says:

    I agree. As I followed this thread, I had thought along the lines of Erin O, but since it wasn’t really related to some of the conversation above, I didn’t comment til now — But what if it was a mani/pedi that was bought for $30? a bottle of perfume? a greeting card? a shirt? a car?

    As a business owner, perceived value are fascinating to me, and something I think about a lot… and as an independent designer and a manufacturer, I say thank goodness for people who perceive value where many others may not. Often, their support and enthusiasm are the behind-the-scenes drivers of innovation and new terrain in the design sphere, and beyond.

  38. gia says:

    My vote is for Phoebe!

  39. Vanessa says:

    I’m truly inspired by your intuition and ability to take a difficult conversation about the relationship between women, and take the opportunity to create a new resource to help biz women communicate more and network more! Just one of the many facets that make you a gem to the small business community. <3

  40. Thank you very much for your insight Grace. I am starting a new blog myself and feel the same way! Thank you for your strength and most of all for the humility in those words.

    God Bless always..

  41. Kaya says:

    I want to go to the Potluck!!!!! Jealous reader from Boise, ID!

  42. Sketch42 says:

    Im torn. On one hand, I receive so many passive aggressive to actually aggressive comments that I totally commiserate with you Grace. I just had to write a 3 paragraph long email about why I chose to price something a certain way. Which is awful.

    I’ve also encountered so much of that in actual life as well. I find that there is an undercurrent of jealousy between so many women that leads to dismissive commentary and tons of gossip.

    But I do agree with other commenters that said that the actual worrying and discussing these perceived slights perpetuates the problem.

    I personally want to get to a place where I can publish a shitty comment about myself and not even care enough to reply. (Not that you shouldn’t reply, of course thats your choice and right, I just feel like I shouldn’t bother to engage a person that would imply that Im fat on my blog, or something like that…) I want to get to a place where if someone tries to make me feel less worthwhile as a person that I can just move on quickly and not internalize it. I want to be able to be as happy as I possibly can be for other women’s success, but we all know that its a hard thing to do when you feel like people are snarking on your success. It’s a hard thing to do PERIOD.

    As for the topic of the actual nail polish… $27 nail polish, well, its a lot of money for nail polish. BUT is it enough money that it should raise eyebrows? Not really. Its a choice you made, and its the price of JUST A SINGLE pedicure in NYC.

    I do find that people comment on other people’s financial choices regardless of gender… People tend to get angry about perceived 1 percenters and how they earn and spend their cash. Its almost as if you make a lot of money, somehow you are a person of inherent privilege like some trust fund baby and you didn’t earn your money and you dont have a right to spend it. I don’t think that has to do particularly with gender.

    But yes, Im all about women supporting other women and I don’t think it has to be done in a hair braiding, hand holding way. I know I personally try my best to help every person that comes to me with a comment or question.

  43. Catherine says:

    I have to disagree with Pheobe about what’s a fair comment to make and what isn’t.

    Yes, for a nail polish it’s expensive, but really it’s a minor extravagance and to go on to use that to make a snarky remark about “business being good” it is obvious that you are then using that minor extravagance to be critical of Grace’s hard-earned success, which I think is… unhelpful at best. You pull down one person for success, you pull us all down. (ever heard of crabs-in-a-bucket theory?!)

  44. Jeanne says:

    First of all, commendations to Grace for an adept handling of a complicated comment. I am so pleased that you are standing up for yourself, and that you are doing it in a mature and kind way.

    I have stuck with Design*Sponge over the years, because as I’ve grown up a little bit, I’ve become more impressed with the richness of its content rather than eventually being disappointed. This is to say, that Design*Sponge makes it clear that it’s acceptable, as a woman, to be good in a business setting, to work hard, and to succeed. Sadly, these are not always messages that I, as a woman, receive. I feel the Design*Sponge team also respects its readers, and expects the same treatment.

    Thank you so much for your thoughtful hosting of this discussion, and for your clear message that women’s voices can and should be heard even when there is disagreement. I rarely read through comments and feel better about most of the people visiting a given site, but this is one instance where that’s definitely the case.

  45. Andrea says:

    Wow. I, too, am disappointed in this conversation. Current methods of communication — such as email, blog comments, texts, tweets, and more can be VERY difficult to interpret. Snarkiness and “tones” can be found where none was intended or even really exist. Everything we take in is perceived through our own lenses and history. That doesn’t mean that a communication received doesn’t sting, or not feel right. even if that wasn’t the intent of the communicator. But OWNING one’s response and expressing feelings can also be done in ways that show one’s own sensitivity to how communications are received. Acknowledging the feeling and then sharing, possibly in a separate forum (yay, potluck!), what the communication germinated (an important discussion, indeed) seems much more in proportion . Grace, I really enjoy Design*Sponge, am delighted with your success, and wish you all the best.

  46. I needed to thank you for this very good read!! I definitely loved every little bit
    of it. I’ve got you book-marked to check out new things you post…

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