In the Words of Wise Women: How to Ask for a Raise & Get Paid What You’re Worth — Wonder Women


Most people — particularly those who are just starting out in their careers — find the prospect of asking for a raise daunting. Talking about money is often uncomfortable, and having to talk about yourself and why you’re worth a certain amount of moola can push the awkwardness factor off the charts. But, as one of the badass creative women we spoke to for this story pointed out, “If you don’t ask for yourself, who will?” Read on for real life advice on how to ask for a raise and get paid what you’re worth.

Her home in Los Angeles rocks a 1950s aesthetic and is filled with colors, textiles and light. Her debut novel, MIRROR IN THE SKY, was entirely written in her dining room, and her upcoming novel, LIBRARY OF FATES, will be released July 2017.

I think there are different kinds of negotiations. There’s the “haggling for a carpet” kind, which I’m good at and kind of love. Every carpet in my home is the result of a negotiation. And yet, despite my skill at negotiation, I was always chagrined to ask for raises, until recently. If I’m going to be completely honest, I look at the confidence with which (mediocre, corrupt, unhinged and entitled) men simply take things that they have no business taking and I remind myself that I’m smart and qualified and a good leader and ethical and creative. If people like me don’t demand what we’re worth, then we’re responsible for the world looking the way it is, which, at the moment, is kind of a mess.


Along with her husband Jayden, Caroline runs Woodnote Photography and Coco Carpets, two companies that combine a love for travel with an eye for all things beautiful. Their Los Angeles rental is full of color and pattern.

If I’m going to be paid what I’m worth, it is up to me. I get to educate someone on what I’m worth and why, and if they aren’t willing to pay that price, then it is up to me to have enough self confidence to walk away from that project.

When I first started my photography business, my husband and I agreed to give ourselves a raise after every major job we booked. Basically, if someone thought we were worth what we were charging, we would up our quotes to the next inquirers. We did that slowly and surely, until we hit the ‘industry standard’ rates. It can be weird to give yourself a raise when you’re self-employed, but somebody’s gotta do it.


She’s the owner of Material Life, a Lower Ninth Ward shop where she sells items that reflect black cultural identities. But she’s also a photography historian, writer and editor with a passion for art and her black roots. Her colorful Seventh Ward home in New Orleans is bursting with history.

I freelanced in the non-profit arts for most of my career, and it’s virtually impossible to get paid what you’re actually worth — more often than not you’re being asked to donate your services, and I did that for many years while also trying to earn a living. But now that I don’t do that for my primary income I can choose projects that are important to me. As a shop owner, though, I will admit to a tendency to want to give things away. I call it the New Orleans merchant tradition of lagniappe — a little something extra — but really I think it’s steeped in that habit of giving things away to be regarded as valuable.


Paco runs a consulting firm called The Hell Yeah Group, where she help creatives understand finances. She’s also been building a non-profit called Allies in Arts, with a friend. She’s also played in bands since age 17. She shares an art-filled Los Angeles home with her wife Jenn.

The reality of our world is that sometimes you’re not paid what you’re worth, especially if you’re just starting out or you’re disadvantaged in some way. The way you get paid what you’re worth is to produce or provide excellence. Sometimes getting paid what your worth is a matter of letting your work speak for itself. But ultimately, it’s having the highest standards and rejecting anything less than what you’re worth. But to be able to do this, you’ll need the privilege and the balls to be able to.


Judy is a textile designer known for her designs inspired by nature on pillows, throws, rugs and other soft goods for the home. She lives in a beautifully designed loft in the Union Square area in Manhattan, which she shares with her two teenage sons.

I think it is always important to know your self worth and get what you deserve. One way is to look at other people you know in similar situations and talk with them about what they are getting paid. When I feel I have done a good job, I am not afraid to ask for a raise or more money. If you don’t ask for yourself, who will?


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