Chelsea Sonksen of Bossladies Talks Career, Connection & Community
You may know Chelsea Sonksen as the owner & editor of Bossladies Magazine, an independent magazine that profiles inspiring female entrepreneurs. It truly is an empowering publication worthy of every boss lady’s studio, coffee table or bookshelf! My first experience with Chelsea, however, happened to be at a co-working session she organized to connect female entrepreneurs in LA.
I recently grabbed the opportunity to sit down with Chelsea at one of these Bossladies work seshes to learn more about how she started, her mission and what she loves about her work & life.
How did Bossladies Magazine come to be?
I wanted to create a co-working space, so I decided to run a kickstarter to raise money for the space. And, the kickstarter prize was going to be a publication that featured some of my favorite women-run businesses in LA. I kept running the numbers for the co-working space, but I couldn’t make the business model make sense. But, everyone was so stoked about the magazine, so I was like…game on!
You get to meet some pretty incredible female entrepreneurs in order to create Bossladies Magazine...what's the best piece of advice you've learned from one of them?
I feel like my favorite piece of advice changes depending on where I’m at with my life. Currently, my favorite one is from Carrie Gifford, who runs Red Cap Cards. She spoke a lot in her interview about having patience and allowing yourself a lot of time, space and gentleness as you build a business. She said, “I don’t know what everyone’s rushing to get to. Don’t they realize that where they are is where they’re trying to be?” I have such lofty goals for my business that sometimes it’s hard to remember that where I am right now is really beautiful as well.
Do you have your eye on anyone in particular that you'd love to meet & interview?
Our next issue is New York and I can’t share any women who are going to be in that lineup yet, but I can tell you women that I wish were also included. I wish that Misty Copeland and Lauren Bush Lauren were going to be in the upcoming issue. I wish that Hannah Bronfman was in our lineup. She’s an amazing DJ and she also runs a health and beauty company…just a general badass. And, I wish Chelsea Clinton was going to be in this issue because I think she’s stepping into a really interesting social and political space and I’d love to talk with her about it.
What is your personal mission?
I think one is to tell stories that change the way we think about work. I worked in real estate right out of college and it was a super male-dominated space with no creativity and I felt stifled every single day. I thought that’s what work was. As I learned more about these women’s stories interviewing them for Bossladies, I realized that’s just one kind of work and you don’t have to suck it up in a cubicle for your whole life!
My other big mission is to create communities and bring people together. Ever since I was little, I was always the kid that had lots of friends over all the time. I’ve thrown various events where I’ve gathered groups of women since I moved to LA. We did a book club where I had women to my house every other Friday after work for 2 years. And, even before the magazine existed, we did Bossladies Wine Nights and as I met cool, creative women in LA, I invited them to this event. One of the women I met ended up doing the design for the first Bossladies Magazine because we became friends.
What 4 or 5 words truly describe who you are...that make up your personal brand?
Perceptive, I hope. Articulate, Driven, Thoughtful & Compassionate. I also think the fact that I’m a Writer is a big part of my identity.
What do you do to recharge so you have enough energy to pursue your goals & dreams?
In the past year, I’ve incorporated some new “life rules.” My boyfriend and I turn off our email, Instagram, phones & computers at 6pm. Then, we burn candles, make really good food, watch movies, play card games and go for walks. We incorporated this in October when we got home from Hawaii, and it’s changed our lives.
When I get really burned out, a long walk and sometimes just closing my computer and walking away for at least 12 hours works well. I read a lot, too. I read independent magazines and I really like Cereal, Bunch, and Darling.
What skills do you possess that you feel make you successful?
I’m good at connecting and gathering people. You know in Malcolm Gladwell’s book he talks about the people that are “connectors?” That’s absolutely my personality. I think all of my other skills stem from that one.
How do you define success?
The things I’ve always looked for in a career are the ability to be mobile (I don’t want to live in just one city), and the ability to spend my days doing things that fill me up rather than drain me. Right now, my life affords me both, and therefore, maybe I should consider that success.
What, or who, inspires you most?
Joan Didion and Annie Leibovitz. And, I’m really inspired by people like Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah who’ve created such powerful communities just by being their authentic self. I think that takes such courage and vulnerability and they navigate it so well. I’m also really inspired by my boyfriend. He has certain philosophies about work and life and creativity and success that have shaped a lot of my own feelings about it.
What would you do if you were 10x bolder?
I would raise venture capital money to have a co-working space. For sure. But I’m too afraid to take people’s money because that terrifies me. I would also move to Europe. It makes you wonder… why don’t I do that? I could probably handle doing that.
Besides Issue 03 (and 04, 05 & 06), what can we expect from Bossladies next?
In 2017, we’re hosting 4 different groups of pop-up work seshes (16 events) in LA. The following year, I’m going to look to expand to other cities. In my mind, this is just a modern, smarter version of a co-working space. There’s no massive overhead and it’s utilizing spaces that are otherwise usually empty. So, why not? Also, I really hope to publish a book before I turn 30. That’s my BIG goal. (I’ll be 27 this year).
And…that’s a wrap, thanks Chelsea!
One thing I know for sure? Chelsea Sonksen should be profiled right alongside all the other inspiring entrepreneurs in her magazine! You can follow Chelsea on IG @bossladiesmag and connect with her at www.bossladies.us or www.chelseasonksen.com