As a women-owned business, we’re clearly fans of females here at Rhyme & Reason Design. We’re also a team of creative people, so to celebrate International Women’s Day, we’ve put together a list of each of our team member’s favorite “Creative Lady.” Read about these female powerhouses below and why they’re simply awesome.
Shea’s Favorite Creative Lady is: Mary Blair (1911 – 1978) | American Artist
Have you ever ridden on “It’s a Small World” at Walt Disney World? If so, you’ve experienced the magic of Mary Blair. As an artist during Walt Disney’s Mid-Century Era, Mary’s concept art heavily influenced iconic films such as “Cinderella” and “Alice in Wonderland.” While most female employees at Disney worked in the ink and paint department (tracing artwork in ink on sheets of celluloid before coloring between the lines), Mary was one of the few females working in concept art, which was very much male-dominated at the time. Her whimsical style and bold use of color were so unique that she couldn’t be ignored. Beyond Disney, she worked as a freelance graphic designer and illustrator, creating multiple children’s books (many of which are still in publication today). While she had formal training in the arts, she crafted a distinct, simplified style that continues to inspire artists and delight audiences worldwide.
In Mary’s Words: “You get an education in school and in college. And then you start to work. And that’s when you learn!”
Heather’s Favorite Creative Lady is: Sara Blakely (1971 – present) | Businesswoman
A true pantyhose to riches story, Sara is the founder and owner of Spanx, an Atlanta-founded company that sells undergarments, leggings, swimwear and maternity wear in 65 countries. Sara started out selling fax machines door-to-door in Florida. She often wore pantyhose for the job and liked their slimming effect, but disliked that she couldn’t wear open-toed shoes without them showing. She cut off the feet of her pantyhose and the light bulb went off. Sara spent two years and $5,000 of her personal savings—while still working as a saleswoman—to research and develop her hosiery idea, find a manufacturer and patent her product. She named her product Spanx and pitched it to Neiman Marcus. They began to sell it in their stores and shortly after, Oprah picked Spanx as her favorite product of 2000. Sarah also began to sell Spanx on QVC, reaching a new clientele. In 2012, Sara became the youngest self-made female billionaire at age 41. She has an estimated net worth of $1 billion dollars as of February 2020.
In Sara’s Words: “Don’t be intimidated by what you don’t know. That can be your greatest strength and ensure that you do things differently from everyone else.”
David’s Favorite Creative Lady is: Debbie Millman (1962 – present) | Writer, Educator, Curator, Designer
While each role in Debbie’s impressive career is varied, design is the overarching theme that glues it all together. She’s best known for her podcast “Design Matters” where she interviews designers, educators, authors and thinkers. Broadcasting for 15 years, Design Matters has nearly 25 million total downloads since 2005 and an average weekly audience of 100,000 listeners. Debbie is also the President Emeritus of AIGA, one of the five women to hold this position in the organization’s 100-year history. Adding to her repertoire is her role at Print Magazine as Editorial and Creative Director and her role at Sterling Brands as President of the Design Division and Chief Marketing Officer. Not to mention she co-founded the world’s first graduate program in branding at the School of Visual Arts in New York City. She has been named “one of the most creative people in business” by Fast Company and “one of the most influential designers working today” by Graphic Design USA.
In Debbie’s Words: “One bit of advice I can give people is to remember that anything worthwhile takes a long time.”
Lauren’s Favorite Creative Lady is: Shonda Rhimes (1970 – present) | American Television Producer
Shonda Rhimes is the first ever African American woman to create and executive produce a prime time drama for television. Creator of Grey’s Anatomy, Scandal, How to Get Away with Murder and Executive Producer of The Catch, if you didn’t recognize her name you did recognize her work. Early in her career she claimed, “I’m going to take over the world through television.” She put it into the universe and it came true, though not without an incredible work ethic. She is now a TV titan. Around the world, her shows air in 256 territories in 67 languages for an audience of 30 million people. And she hasn’t slowed a beat, even after adopting three children. Shonda has used her writing to push societal norms and boundaries in the world of television. She cast African Americans, Asians and Latinas as brilliant doctors in Grey’s Anatomy, which had not been represented on television before. Scandal was the first show to star an African American woman in 38 years. She is a television visionary who promotes empowerment, diversity and ambition.
In Shonda’s Words: “A lot of people dream. And while they are busy dreaming, the really interesting, powerful, engaged people? They’re busy doing.”
Shannon’s Favorite Creative Lady is: Stevie Nicks (1948 – present) | American Singer-Songwriter
A rare blend of elegance and grit, Stevie Nicks has dominated the music scene for decades. Her career took off when she joined Fleetwood Mac, writing two of the band’s earliest hits: “Landslide” and “Rhiannon.” The song “Dreams” was the band’s first No. 1 single, also written by Nicks. While still a member of the band, she released a single of her own, “Bella Donna,” which set the rest of her career up for success. While the band has undergone multiple iterations (members quitting, getting fired, etc.), Nicks has established her own unique musical style and following. She’s collaborated with artists like Sheryl Crow and even appeared in American Horror Story’s “Coven.” Her harsh, girlish voice combined with her flamboyant, mystical performance has captured audiences from the 1970s to the 2020s.
In Stevie’s Words:
“Oh, mirror in the sky what is love? Can the child within my heart rise above? Can I sail through the changin’ ocean tides? Can I handle the seasons of my life?”
Emily’s Favorite Creative Lady is: Serena Williams (1981 – present) | American Tennis Player
Powerhouse athlete, entrepreneur, philanthropist and mother, Serena Williams became a household name when she won the 1999 U.S. Open. Since that day, she has been ranked No. 1 multiple times by the Women’s Tennis Association; she’s won 23 major single titles (the most by any man or woman in the Open Era); is a four-time Olympic Gold Medalist; and has been on Forbes’ 2017 and 2019 list of 100 highest paid athletes. Beyond her athletic prowess, she’s created a fashion line (Aneres), been the subject of film and television and received the President’s Award. Throughout the triumphs, injuries and comebacks of her career, she’s remained close to her family and has also started a family of her own with Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. She’s given back to society by creating the Serena Williams Foundation and building schools in Africa.
In Serena’s Words: “Family’s first, and that’s what matters most. We realize that our love goes deeper than the tennis game.”
Karen’s Favorite Creative Lady is: Teil Duncan (1988 – present) | American Artist
Pushing the boundaries of Southern portraiture and lifestyle scenes, Teil Duncan’s colorful, highly abstracted painting style is eye-catching to say the least. Her paintings began to get noticed when she joined Instagram in 2011. Teil’s work quickly became popular with interior designers, and upscale clients began to knock on her door for original pieces. “Project Runway’s” Christian Siriano was taken with her work and used it as inspiration for his 2015 resort collection, which brought her even more recognition. She has embraced the digital age by selling her work successfully online (she offers a variety of prints and other merchandise), thereby quelling the “starving artist” trope. She has a children’s book coming out in spring 2020 and recently released a coffee table book The Color Teil, where you can admire her ability to capture light and movement through vibrant abstraction.
In Teil’s Words: (On what inspires her) “Anything that makes me go, ‘Wow!’ If I am wowed, whether by food, music, artwork or athletic performance, it moves me to want to create something wow-worthy.”
Scarlett’s Favorite Creative Lady is: Cher (1946 – present) | American Entertainer
Where to even start with one of the world’s most iconic performers? Her career has been strong for six decades, and she’s the only artist to date to have a number-one single on a Billboard chart for that many decades in a row! Cher’s career took off in the 1960s as half of musical duo Sonny & Cher. During that decade, she started her solo career and over the years has expanded her talents, starring in television shows, films and Broadway. Musically, she has been able to pivot genres from folk to disco to rock to pop, and with a flair that can only belong to Cher. Her wardrobe runs the gamut as well and she never fails to slay on tour with multiple, extravagant costume changes. She is a style innovator and has never been afraid to reinvent herself, making her a timeless, relevant icon that continues to empower fans.
In Cher’s Words: “Unless you’re ready to look foolish, you’ll never have the possibility of being great.”
Cori’s Favorite Creative Lady is: Christina Tosi (1981 – present) | American Chef
Success has never looked so sweet … literally! Christina Tosi is the founder, chef and owner of Milk Bar, a bakery that gives familiar desserts an unexpected twist. Christina worked in NYC’s restaurant scene for several years before concocting her signature confectionary style, where she combines her formal culinary training with the comforts of home baking. Back in 2008, she had been hired by David Chang of Momofuku Noodle Bar to help organize food safety and run the business side of things. He didn’t offer desserts at his restaurant and she impressed him with her baking skills—so much so that he encouraged her to open a sister store in a vacant space his company had acquired. The first Milk Bar was opened and offered delightful sweet treats like Crack Pie and Birthday Cake; the community embraced it quickly. Since then, Tosi has been featured in a variety of publications, has authored two cookbooks and was featured on an episode of “Chef’s Table”, all while running Milk Bar (which now has sixteen total stores in North America).
In Christina’s Words: “I think the world is more often your oyster when you approach it with more of a childlike sensibility. The world is a more curious place. It’s a more beautiful place. It’s not always sunshine and rainbows, but within any given day in life, there should always be a moment where the weight of the world is just a little bit lighter on your shoulders.”