Aigner Journal

This inspiring group of women turned their love of art, fashion, and culture into a networking community.

The Epilogue Project X Etienne Aigner

The art of balance can be a tricky concept. More often than not, we are juggling a million responsibilities on any given day and it can be easy to forget to take a moment to reflect on life outside of our own organized chaos.

Flashback to 2010, when a group of young women working in media came together to form a book club where they could do just that. The club not only welcomed friendly banter over buzzy new novels, but also provided a comfortable place to chat about real issues from careers, to relationships, to daily life. Nearly 10 years later, this community of strong, independent women has expanded their love of art, fashion, and culture into a literary and networking community called The Epilogue Project.

Etienne Aigner recently partnered with The Epilogue Project on one of their Panel Parties, which has become a signature event series that offers a networking happy hour, engaging conversation, and the opportunity to create new, authentic connections.
Held at 11 Howard in Soho, the gathering included a discussion by author, Lisa Taddeo, on her novel Three Women.

At the event, we had the pleasure of catching up with original book club founder, Sharon Kanter, to discuss her inspiration behind the group and why it’s so important to occasionally unplug and maintain the ideal work/life balance.

What inspired you to start the Epilogue Project/how did it evolve from a regular monthly book club to inviting authors of the books you are reading?

The Epilogue Project is an organic evolution from our roots as a book club. For nearly a decade, we’ve had a group of women working in media and marketing meeting monthly to discuss books. Over the years, we’ve also seen each other through some of the most important changes in each other’s lives — new jobs, layoffs, promotions, break-ups, marriages, motherhood — and we realized our Book Club had become so much more than a Book Club, but a truly powerful community where we shared stories about life, relationships, work, and more. After we invited an author in to speak to our club in February 2019 and it inspired us endlessly, we thought we might be onto something bigger, and that we might be able to share this special community with even more people. 

So, we decided to launch an event series that would merge an author talk with a networking happy hour, creating a Book Club-inspired space where attendees can discuss this chapter and the next — as it relates to what they’re reading and what’s going on in their lives. We called them Panel Parties and named this new initiative The Epilogue Project.

Ultimately, it’s really exciting because it’s resonating: So many attendees have reached out to us after the events to tell us how much they enjoyed both the discussion and the opportunity to meet new, intelligent, fascinating women. I think the reason it’s eliciting such a strong response is one of the same reasons I started a book club all those years ago in the first place: In our digital-oriented, highly competitive world, it’s becoming more and more difficult to find places to forge true, meaningful connections and opportunities to support the aspirations and goals of your peers — and that’s the platform we’re creating in The Epilogue Project.

    The book club began back in 2010 – how did you meet the women you started this project with?

    In 2010, I decided to invite women who inspired me, including a few friends from work — at New York Magazine at the time — and some of my former classmates from the Magazine Journalism program at Syracuse University to start a book club. We were all junior level people hustling to make it in New York City, so we had a lot to talk about after the literary discussion ended. Over the years, those founding members invited other friends or colleagues to join, while some members moved away for jobs, love, or adventure. Today, the idea remains the same: A group of women who inspire me and inspire each other — non-stop, hard-working all-stars who are some of the most ambitious and accomplished editors and creative talents in New York City.

    Many of the founding members of TEP, including yourself, have served as editors at national publications. How do you think your 9-5 gigs informed your book club events?

    The goal with any of our events is to create an opportunity to unplug and indulge in a moment of literary joy while making connections with other women in your industry. We’re all really busy (who isn’t?) but carving out some time to have a true meaningful discussion about the real topics we’re facing today — inspired by what we’re reading — is truly a form of self-care that helps us recharge and bring renewed energy back to our professional lives. It’s also been a fun creative challenge for all of us on the steering committee. While we all are creating, writing, editing, and pitching ideas in our day jobs, this was a unique opportunity for us to establish and define everything, big and small, from the ground up.

    You recently introduced panel parties as a way to connect with other women and take a break from their busy professional lives – how do you disconnect and practice self-care in your daily life?

    No matter what happened the day before, I reset every morning with a trip to the gym and some quality time with my son. Then, as soon as I’m out the door, I’m working non-stop. Taking a break to text with or meet up with my friends from The Epilogue Project about ideas for our upcoming events and our long-term goals for the group is a form of self-care too, since we all get a lot of excitement and inspiration out of it.

    What’s your favorite genre of book to read? Do you have a favorite book?! 

    Anything fiction! Historical, dystopian, postmodern, whatever it is, I’m in. Some of my recent favorites were Severance and Little Fires Everywhere, and some all-time faves include All The Light We Cannot See, The History of Love, and Catch-22.

    As a handbag brand we have to ask - what’s in your bag?

    Always, always my planner. It’s a giant notebook but I write my whole life in there, including all my big crazy goals for The Epilogue Project. Other necessities: Bobbi Brown / Tom Ford lipsticks, a million felt-tip pens, tangled headphones, loose hairties, and then of course, PWK — phone, wallet, keys.

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    Credit: Sarah Balch for the Epilogue Project
    Social: @sarahlizbalch for @theepilogueproject