Beyonc, illustrated by Eline van Dam.
According to Cavallo, her mother would have no hesitation in saying that I was always a rebel girl. In family lore, her first word was No, and her kindergarten teacher demanded extra payment. She grew up in Lizzano, Puglia, which, if you imagine Italy as a boot, is the heel, far from the Italy of postcards or the imagination of foreigners. When playing outside, she was warned to mind the syringes but I had a passion for turning nothing into something.
Favilli, who has worked as a journalist, was raised amid the vineyards and olive trees of the Tuscan hills. She was the only child in a tiny village, which was a lonely experience but one that taught me to be independent and in charge of my life. Her mother, a doctor, was a strong role model, a woman who was working and studying and making things happen.
They first met in Milan, when Cavallo had begun a career as a stage director and playwright she was in a production of
Tolstoys and dressed as a male warrior. But she already knew of Favilli, having read her blog, which detailed her year spent studying abroad at the University of California, Berkeley. It was beautiful, I fell in love, Cavallo recalls. Now in their mid-30s, they have been a couple for a decade and entered into a civil partnership in 2016. Hadji Murat
They began work on what became a childrens media company, Timbuktu Labs, and eventually won awards that sent them to San Francisco the world of startups and Silicon Valley financing. Our first editorial project was an iPad news magazine for kids, Favilli says. So a connection to the real world has always been at the core of our work.
At first, they were thrilled to be in the Bay Area, among people who were at the forefront of innovation. But the bro culture of Silicon Valley became oppressive: We were always the only women in the room. We kept hearing that two girls alone will never raise serious capital and we werent drawn to the social activities. They both remember reading, in 2013, Facebooks
Sheryl Sandbergs , which calls for women to be more assertive in the workplace, and thinking how her ideas reflected their experience. In Cavallos words: We felt: Why do our male colleagues look so sure of themselves when they walk into meetings? She talks of growing up in a world in which she was told in so many different ways that I wasnt supposed to be ambitious, to be confident. Lean In
In 2015 Favilli wrote an
article on Silicon Valley sexism for the Guardian. She was shocked at many of the below-the-line comments and received a death threat on Twitter: Its online, so at first you think its nothing, but its not nothing its scary.
The response to the article, Favilli says, pushed me even more to think that our next project should target girls and give them a strong, empowering message. The books are definitely connected to their Silicon Valley years: We always say that
Rebel Girls comes from a very personal place, but it is not just joyful and celebratory it is also a place of pain.
Having failed to attract further investment in their startup, and unimpressed with their experience of traditional publishing, Favilli and Cavallo by now in LA turned to crowdfunding. The story of how much money they eventually raised on Kickstarter and Indiegogo ($1m in pre-sales) has been told many times. The press loved how the two entrepreneurs had outwitted corporations and built a following with their book illustrated by 70 female artists and the plaudits kept coming.
Beatrix Potter, illustrated by Barbara Dziadosz.
Not every reader has been smitten. A few reviewers have rolled their eyes at the projects were on a journey inspirational language. More have criticised the inclusion in the first volume of
Aung San Suu Kyi, given the Rohingya persecution, and Margaret Thatcher. Defending Thatchers inclusion, Cavallo stresses that they wanted to stay away from saints, religious or secular: We study men in history even if they were far from perfect girls are taught to be likeable at all times, and that is one of the strongest limits we place on the leadership of women.
The book, its authors feel, captured a moment in history. During its launch year, 2016, something was building.
Hillary Clintons presidential campaign was, for us, a catalyst. We felt Rebel Girls was so needed, so timely. Clinton was included in the first volume. (The politician has written to the authors to thank them for fighting gender stereotypes.)
Rebel Girls is bigger than us, its authors insist it takes its place in a wider conversation that includes the #MeToo movement. Among the protesters who took to American streets last month for the Womens March (marking a year since the inauguration of President Trump) were some who held Rebel Girls signs. We are proud that our book has become a symbol of resistance, Cavallo says.
For Favilli, seeing the protest signs had an even bigger effect: Honestly, I was speechless. When people use your title as a hashtag to describe themselves, and then its displayed on signs on a march, it means your work has really become a part of the public imagination
Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls 2 will be published by Timbuktu on 28 February. To order a copy for 21.25 (RRP 25) go to guardianbookshop.com or call 0330 333 6846. Free UK p&p over 10, online orders only. Phone orders min p&p of 1.99.