Bazaar’s 2022 Icons issue celebrates a rising generation of stars—people 30 years old or younger who are making an impact on the world through their ideas and their art. Here, we talk to two women who are changing the literary community: Asha Grant and Tomi Adeyemi.
The owner of The Salt Eaters Bookshop in Inglewood, California, Grant focuses on curating writing “by and about Black women, girls, femmes, and gender expansive people,” as her website puts it. Also based in California, Adeyemi is the author of the best-selling YA series The Legacy of Orïsha, which begins with The Children of Blood and Bone.
“I think an icon is someone who represents whatever the time is offering us and whatever we need most. They represent an attitude that maybe we wish that we had but don’t know how to embody. Icons are leaders. They don’t always have to be celebrities or famous folks. They could be our friends or in our families.
I feel the most iconic when I’m around people that I love and respect and look up to and feel connected to. I feel most iconic when I’m literally in community with others.
I really, really wish I could have met Alice Coltrane. She’s a Black jazz musician who really represents the sort of life that I would like to live, where my work and my personal values are aligned.
The best piece of advice I ever received is ‘Done is better than perfect.’ I have been obsessed with perfection at times. I’ve realized how that can hold you back from accomplishing anything. ‘Done is better than perfect’ is a mantra that my grandma would say to me. Just get it done.
The first time I felt like I made it was in the summer of 2020. This was during a time when I felt really helpless. So many things just felt impossible. But I had just made my goal of raising $65,000 for my bookstore on GoFundMe in less than a week. Suddenly, things felt possible, for me and for my community too.”
“The word icon means someone who really lived a once-in-a-lifetime kind of life. When I think back to all the icons I know of, they weren’t just icons because of whatever incredible feat they accomplished or what they added to humanity, but the way they lived their life—their internal, philosophical approach to what it means to be alive.
If I could meet any icon from the past, it would be Cleopatra because she seduced her way into the destruction of two leaders, and I think that’s awesome. But she was also the people’s princess. Her net worth, like today, it was a hundred billion, so I’m like, Entrepreneur, siren, leader of people? Yes, I would like to meet her. I’d be like, Teach me your ways so I can rule kingdoms.
The best piece of advice I ever received is ‘There is no wrong way.’ I’m always thinking, ‘I want things to be right, and I want to make sure I’m living right,’ but hearing there is no wrong way was very freeing for me.
I want my legacy to be like if Michael Jordan was a writer. I want to keep growing. I want to keep pushing. I want it to be like, ‘Whoa, there was no limit to what she could do and what she did. She literally proved there are no limits.’”
Read more from Bazaar’s 2022 Icons issue.