New York Called Grace Bonney

"To stay curious is to stay committed to learning. And if you're not learning something new, you're staying in the same place. And while I don't know everything I want from my life and business yet, I do know that I want to always be learning."DesignSponge1useuseThe above excerpt comes from a very recent blog post written by my latest New York Called feature, Grace Bonney. A transplant from Virginia Beach and founder of the popular blog, Design*Sponge, Grace knows how to eloquently deliver words that resonate with her readers. Whether in person or on paper (or should I say screen?) she has the ability to connect with her audience in a very authentic way.DesignSponge3Her personal essay about fear, uncertainty and the importance of staying curious is entirely why I started New York Called. People frequently ask me what I want from the blog and it is simple: I do not know where the blog will lead, I just know I want to keep moving. Every person I interview teaches me something new and moves me to continue bettering myself. Whether it's a new skill I want to learn or a fresh perspective that reinvigorates a stale state of mind, I continue the blog because I want to always be learning.DesignSponge5So what did I learn about Grace and what did this very successful NYC-blogger teach me in a mere 45-minutes? Grace gave me peace of mind, specifically when it came to her outlook on Manhattan's hustle and bustle, which is something I've been thinking about a lot lately. Among many other topics of discussion, she touched on Manhattan's ability to spark a "fear of missing out." Do you ever feel like you may miss that one big networking opportunity if you aren't at the next huge party? I often do, and when I don't get the invite, or can't attend, that party greets me on social media in a big way that may or may not trigger, "FOMO." It's not that networking is bad or that Manhattan nightlife isn't exciting (I'm actually quite a fan). My takeaway is that an ability to succeed should not rest entirely on social attendance.DesignSponge6use"I tend to learn things in hyper-speed. My first semester at NYU my parents gave me a small amount of money and I spent it in one month. After burning through it on trips to Barneys and club cover charges, reality hit. My parents wouldn't give me more money so I got a job and re-focused. Since then I've been more concerned with figuring out how to get to a place where I can have an apartment that I love. Maybe even a pet or something... How can I get to a place where I have a space that I am just happy being in?" said Grace.DesignSponge7useAs Grace spoke I looked around her studio, infatuated with the space she has created for herself and her NYC-based team. Design*Sponge is ten years old, beginning as a hobby in 2004. At the time, she worked 9-5 writing for design-focused print editorials. As the internet grew more stable than print, Grace finally decided to pursue Design*Sponge full-time, but not really by choice. "I liked knowing I had a paycheck and would have always happily written for something else if I could have, but at that time it just was not an option."DesignSponge9Although she was suspicious of pursuing blogging full-time, she recognizes her fortunate position and is perfectly happy and excited about where she stands now. What led to this success? Part of this was Grace's early adoption of a new form of content distribution. There were few design blogs in existence when she started (maybe two or three). Aside from this, her aesthetic is feminine and very much supports creative female owned businesses. As Grace said, "...it was about being in the right place at the right time with the right look. I thrive on feeling like we are making a difference in some part of the community. Personal connections have been a huge driving force in 2014. We found readers were craving that. They want to connect and understand the people they read about everyday. If you aren't a tiny bit vulnerable you are not relatable."DesignSponge8useGrace was a huge hippy clad in Birkenstocks when she first moved to NYC to work for a record label. It took her a while to adjust to the way that people moved and talked and dressed, but she eventually found her own place in that; living in Greenpoint for the better part of 10 years. With her 75,000 daily readers she is doing pretty well in both her career and personal life, although finding that balance is always a challenge. "A week ago my wife and I had dinner and usually we both would have taken our phones with us and we both forgot them. It's a nice reminder that real life happens when you turn things off."

[wait, there's more...]

Favorite book to read on vacation?

In Praise of Slowness by Carl Honor - I always bring it with me with hopes it will make me recommit myself to living more slowly and authentically.

Favorite place to eat on a friday night?

Selamat Pagi - a Balinese restaurant in Brooklyn. It's wonderful and never crowded.

A woman who inspires you?

Rachel Maddow.

Favorite photo editing app?


Favorite person to follow on Instagram?

@benjaminhole runs a farm in England and it's a great feed.

If you could only wear one brand for the rest of your life?

Madewell - I always wear it.

One thing you learned today that you didn't know yesterday?

How important hydration is - I installed a Fitbit app that has inspired me to drink more water and I'm way less tired!

Last thing you splurged on?

A rug from Nightwood - a store in Williamsburg.

Favorite NYC street?

Guernsey Street in Greenpoint - a thin street lined with trees that is beautiful in the spring.

You're last "Only in NYC" moment?

I was having coffee and overheard a couple on their iPhones saying "...no look this way...now turn this way..." and I just think that is such a New York thing to make your life look perfect for Instagram.

An excuse New Yorkers use that you can't stand?

I feel like every excuse is valid in NYC.

It's okay to do this alone...everything - I am an only child.

You'll usually find me... on my sofa working on my laptop.

I'm not a tourist but I still... love the East River ferry.

Do trust... anyone with a dog in NYC.

Don't trust... waitresses at hipster restaurants.

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