By Michelle Rick
If you’re thinking about becoming an entrepreneur, reading up on people who have done it successfully is a great source of inspiration. Sure, there are news articles, podcasts, panels and fireside chats, but sometimes a book is the best way to curl up and get familiarized with the ins and outs of female entrepreneurship (we snuck Richard Branson in because his story is too good to pass up — but he’s not like a regular guy, he’s a cool guy).
Here’s a list we’ve pre-bookwormed for you! They read like a frank, very long coffee catch-up with an old friend. They’re not stuffy at all – au contraire, they’re perfect for a flight or an afternoon by the pool.
- “I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This” By Kate White
What’s Kate White doing on this list? As the former editor-in-chief of Cosmopolitan, she worked her way up a very competitive ladder. Her book offers blunt advice on changing careers, asking for more money and fast-tracking the trajectory you’re on. She also has plenty of stories to tell from interesting people she’s worked with, making her book a varied tapestry of career tales with spicy commentary.
- “By Invitation Only: How We Built Gilt and Changed the Way Millions Shop” By Alexis Maybank
At this point, it’s hard to imagine a world where you’d be laughed out of a venture capitalist’s conference room for telling them you want to start an online shopping company – yet that’s exactly what the two female founders of Gilt experienced when they went searching for funding. In this book, they share how they followed a hunch, overcame the “absurd” idea of taking the luxury shopping experience online, and leveraged relationships with designers like Zac Posen to introduce flash sales to the ecommerce world.
- “Losing My Virginity: How I Survived, Had Fun, and Made a Fortune Doing Business My Way” By Richard Branson
Richard Branson may not be up there with Zuckerberg or Bezos in the net value sense, but he definitely seems to have the most fun. In his book, he recalls the shaky start of his first business, Virgin Records, and owns up to some of the mistakes he’s made – like getting arrested, feuding with British Airways and almost dying on a hot air balloon expedition. His personal brand is the driving force behind each of his businesses, so it’s definitely worth getting to know the man behind the empire.
- “The Woman I Wanted to Be” By Diane von Furstenberg
No one seems to have their shit together like Diane von Furstenberg. Before she hit 30, she had married a prince (literally), partied at Studio 54, dated a few celebs and built an empire, all because of a little wrap dress. DVF’s infallible confidence rolls off the page as she tells her story, but she’s also upfront about the financial hit she took when the wrap dress fad ended. She wraps up her book with a warm retelling of her comeback. Tune in and read on for all the ups, downs, and aspirational fabulousness.
- “Leave Your Mark: Land Your Dream Job. Kill It in Your Career. Rock Social Media.” By Aliza Licht
Social media was coming into its own just as Gossip Girl hit the airwaves – coincidence? Aliza Licht borrowed Gossip Girl’s undercover personality to create DKNY Girl, a Twitter feed that doubled as a PR powerhouse before anyone else had figured out how to crack the social media marketing code. Her story is the perfect example about how a little creativity can put your business in the spotlight and help you connect with your customers.
- “In My Shoes: A Memoir” By Tamara Mellon
Not every entrepreneur’s story is as glamorous as buying an island or marrying a prince. Tamara Mellon, Jimmy Choo’s female business partner, was a cokehead living in her parents’ basement before she figured out what she her passion was and blossomed into a businesswoman. She partnered with a cobbler who was the best-kept secret in London’s West End, and the rest is history. Some super entrepreneur moments that come up in her book include her memories of starting the company with just three people and fighting for creative control once her company was purchased.
- “The Glitter Plan: How We Started Juicy Couture for $200 and Turned It into a Global Brand” By Pamela Skaist-Levy and Gela Nash-Taylor
This one is so fun it almost reads like fiction. You want to hate the Juicy gals for eating junk food, staying skinny, and being married to washed up rockstars, but they just seem too sweet. Their story has as many ups and downs as a candy binge – they describe how their T-shirt making side project took off. The next thing they knew, they were operating out of an L.A. warehouse and celebrity brides were splashed across the tabloids in velour tracksuits. Like Diane von Furstenberg, they saw their successful clothing line crash and burn before their eyes, but just kept living and went on to pursue a new venture – as every successful entrepreneur does. Sweet.