What is your name, age, and location?
Elissa Stein, 46, NYC.
What is your profession?
Writer/graphic designer/story teller.
What did you study in school and what degrees do you have?
I have a BFA from the School of Visual Arts.
What was your first job?
First full time job ever: front desk greeter at Fred the Furrier’s Fur Vault which was a ridiculous place for a vegetarian to work. First job related to what I do now: design assistant in the audio book department at HarperCollins.
Who or what inspired you to break into your current line of work?
Working in publishing I saw what went into putting a book together, from initial idea through editing, design, and marketing. After seeing the wide variety of (often not very good) ideas out there a friend and I put together a compilation of vomit stories and somehow found an agent who sold the project. Chunks: a Barfology was published and is great bathroom reading I’ve been told.
Name/describe what has been your most rewarding project so far?
Hands down, FLOW: the Cultural Story of Menstruation. I had the first glimmers of this project 13 years ago and it took years (and years) of being assured it would never get published to find people who had the vision to see what it could be. And FLOW ended up to being a smart, funny, eye-opening, shocking, educational, beautiful, inspirational, well-reviewed, conversation-starting book. I was on The View, Dr. Oz, FOXnews, did countless interviews, made my first films, met fascinating people, grew as a writer and communicator—it’s been a tremendous experience.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has helped your career?
After a disastrous experience in childbirth I was determined the next time I’d be in as much control as I possibly could be and so wrote a guidebook for my husband to refer to while I was in labor. It was both tongue-in-cheek and deadly serious. My editor saw this very personal piece and asked if we’d turn it into a book. If it wasn’t for a nightmarish delivery, I never would have published Don’t Just Stand There.
Name/describe one incident when being a woman has hindered your career?
Again, it’s about being a mother and it’s countless incidents. Kids always come first and I’ve missed more meetings, interviews, phone calls than I can remember because of someone else’s fever, sore throat, dealing with out-of-the-blue calls from the nurse’s office and emergency doctor appointments.
If you could give one piece of advice to a woman starting out in your field, what would it be?
Trust your voice. You are unique—your ideas, your point of view, the way you see the world and what you put into it are special. Valid. Important.
– Interview by Haley Hogan