Image via Garance Dore
There's tons of advice out there about how to achieve career success, make more money, or turn your passion into a full-time job. But when it comes to finding what actually works? We'll take our cues from the women who know best: the hustlers, entrepreneurs, and creatives who made it big by playing by their own rules.
Rule #1: Never get comfortable.
"If it doesn’t feel good, it’s probably not a good idea. That said, don’t confuse feeling good with feeling comfortable. Sometimes the best ideas make you very uncomfortable."
- Aliza Licht, Former DKNY PR Girl and Author of LEAVE YOUR MARK
Rule #2: Work hard, break often.
"I take lots of little breaks throughout the day to clear my head. Not enough people do that. I only say this having been on the other side—there was a point when I was working way too much and too often. I wasn't inspired."
- Caroline Ventura, Owner of Brvtvs and Calliope
Rule #3: Want to #treatyourself? Earn it first.
"[When I launched NYX,] I moved in with my parents and gave up my car. I never treated myself or spent money on anything that wasn’t absolutely necessary. You must exhibit incredible discipline and self-control. Now, I can buy the Birkin and the building! Be as thrifty as possible in the beginning and put your earnings back into your career. It will reward you multiple times over in the end."
- Toni Ko, Founder of NYX Cosmetics
Rule #4: Staying true to yourself and your work means shaking things up.
"As the Creative Director…my responsibility is to not only help define the brand, but to help redefine it and edit as we continue to grow...We always know what is and what isn’t on brand, but you never want everything so fixed that nothing new or completely original can ever be thought of.”
- Helen Steed, Creative Director at Glossier
Rule #5: Get it in writing.
"When I started out, I think was a bit naive to the fact that people didn't always have my best interests in mind. I made a lot of handshake deals that blew up in my face...No matter how simple a deal is, get it in writing.”
- Jaclyn Johnson, Founder of Create & Cultivate
Rule #6: Really though, always trust your gut.
"When I started a company I undervalued how important it is to trust your gut. They can't teach you that in business school. You have intuition and you have to listen to it.”
- Jessica Alba, Actress and Founder of Honest Beauty
Rule #7: Sometimes the best career move means skipping a Plan B.
"I didn’t really have a great backup plan, and in a weird way, I think that helped. We had to make it work, and there was so much to do, it never dawned on me to second-guess our decision to start the company. I was just too busy."
- Hillary Kerr, Founder of Clique Media, Who What Wear, Byrdie (and a whole lot of other stuff)
Rule #8: When you’re starting out, work for free. (Kinda.)
"Hmm...I think I’d like to edit that and say ‘collaborate for free’. A large company should not be asking you ever to work for free—no matter how big or small you are. If you are starting out, think about whether or not the exposure is worth it to you. If you are already established make sure they aren’t benefiting more from you than you are from the exposure. “
- Emily Henderson, Designer
Rule #9: Education isn’t everything. Or maybe anything.
"I have to say that I probably use about 2% of what I learned in school. Life was (and I think this goes for most people) my biggest education. It's your work ethic that helps you more than anything. "
- Ellen Bennett, Founder of Hedley & Bennett
Rule #10: Lead by example. Always.
"I know this is a duh thing to tell you, because you work hard and are amazing, but people get resentful pretty quickly if they think they’re pulling more weight than the people who manage them. Earn your higher salary. Also model the behavior you want from her. Make clear you have tons of respect for her job—it is critical to what you do, and critical to making an awesome magazine—and that you have infinite faith in her ability to do it well. This isn’t a lie because you hired her and you don’t hire idiots."
- Ann Friedman, Columnist at New York Magazine
Rule #11: Slow your roll. Creative success doesn't happen quickly.
"If you've been doing something for long enough—ten to fifteen years, logged something like 10,000 hours of time doing something, it becomes part of you. It becomes completely natural, you're in the flow, it's easy, you're almost like a master."
- Jesse Kamm, Fashion Designer