Changing the Narrative with Chelsea of Bossladies Magazine

We have been waiting for something as unique as Bossladies Magazine! It’s so refreshing to see a publication that recognizes and honors great women in business and those making moves in their own cities. Chelsea Sonksen, the brains behind Bossladies Magazine, shares with us her inspiration for this beautiful creation that has turned into a wonderful, supportive community for many people all across the world. Read on to find out what being a “bosslady” entails.

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Hi, Chelsea! Please introduce yourself, share your background and how Bossladies came to be. What makes Bossladies different from other publications?

Hi, guys! I’m Chelsea, the owner and Editor-in-Chief of Bossladies Magazine. I grew up in a little town on the coast of Maine, studied literature and creative writing at a liberal arts college, and moved to California with my boyfriend as soon as we graduated. He was starting a Ph.D. program at UCLA, and I thought palm trees and surfing sounded fun. I’ve worked in a number of industries–from publishing to marketing to commercial real estate–and through all of these positions, I found that I was most excited about connecting with interesting people and telling their stories.

I’ve always loved business magazines and the business section of the newspaper. But most of those articles feature male founders and CEOs. I knew there was an incredible ecosystem of women starting and running unique businesses, and I wanted to create a print publication that celebrated and shared the stories of those women.

The big thing that differentiates Bossladies from other publications is the fact that it isn’t just a tangible book; it’s a community of people made up of both the women in the magazine and the women who come to our events. We have listings on our Resource Guide and share their stories on our blog. When you are starting a business, you need people who inspire you, AND you need friends who are building their own businesses alongside you. Bossladies helps women find both of those things.

How would you define the modern “bosslady”?

“A woman who loves what she does
& takes charge of her own destiny.”


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Each issue focuses on a different city – how do you choose which city to focus on and what are your strategies to planning and executing features for such a niche publication?

Last year, we focused on my hometown of LA, and this year we’re publishing two NYC issues. Next year, we’ll be heading to London for our first European issue and up to San Francisco. When we select cities, we’re looking for vibrant communities full of high-impact, highly visible female-founded companies. There are so many cities that have incredible communities of bossladies, and we’re looking forward to visiting them all over the course of the next ten years.

In Issue 03, which releases in May, we’re launching a few new types of content as well. In addition to our profiles, we’ll now be featuring a Non-Profit Spotlight, a column called Things Women Should Talk About, and trend pieces on movements and ideas proliferating in that city. One of our featured women described the magazine as an artifact that preserves and celebrates a particular phase of the city’s creative life. I find that to be so beautiful, and I think these new types of content will help us capture a wider and deeper understanding of the city’s current moment.

How do you choose which women to feature in your magazine?

I spend hours researching the dynamics of the city. I learn as much as I can about the key players: the newest companies, the established companies that are shaking things up, and the women who are inspiring and motivating others in their community. Then, once we’ve selected our lineup, my team travels to that city for ten days to interview, photograph, and hang out with the women we feature.

It’s important to me that we not only feature women everyone has heard of but that we also seek out and share stories of amazing women you likely haven’t heard about yet. For instance, in Issue 03 we’re featuring Alexandria Lee who runs Ember Charter, a school in Brooklyn that takes their 7th and 8th-grade students to Ghana to teach them about their cultural ancestry and help them cultivate leadership skills. Alex is doing such meaningful work and changing the lives of so many kids, and I’m so happy we’re able to share her story.

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What role does Social Media play in building brand awareness for your publication and how have you utilized it to grow your community?

Instagram has been integral to our success. In fact, I found my current designer after she posted a photograph of her copy of Issue 01 and tagged us. Instagram is how most of our stockists have learned about the magazine, and it’s how we seek out collaboration partners and advertisers. My grandma is always asking me “how I found so-and-so.” The answer, inevitably, is “on Instagram,” which baffles and confounds her every time. 😉

“Instagram has been
integral to our success.”

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Your Instagram is inspirational! How do you plan and strategize marketing and social content to create and post?

Thank you! I take a lot of care in what I share on our Instagram, and occasionally, I teach small workshops to help others learn some of the tricks I’ve found helpful. I share everything from quotes by our featured women to my personal musings about running a business to announcements about upcoming events.

When I’m deciding what content to share, I think about what kind of content I want to be reading. I want real stories, real emotions, real humans-not just products and launches and see-and-be-seen events. So I try especially hard to create space for vulnerability online by sharing as much of ME as possible. There can be a lot of superficiality on social media, but I think it can be used to make people feel less lonely and more connected as well.

What are your top tips/advice for your fellow Bossladies?

  1. Don’t compromise on the quality of any aspect of your business–ever. From your business cards to the content you publish on social media to the aesthetic of every single event you host. Shape each element with intention and care.
  2. Collaborations can be the most impactful way to grow your business and create beautiful things with people in your community. But be strategic about which you accept and take on, especially when they aren’t revenue generating.
  3. Take days off! More than once a week! Get massages. Take that yoga class. Sign off your email an hour early and go have a glass of wine with your partner. Running a business is such hard work, and we all have to remember to take excellent care of ourselves!

Stay connected:

Website: Bossladies
Instagram: @bossladiesmag