from maren

dear brassy women of the world, 

My own journey unpacking womanhood in my life started in 2015 with my post-baccalaureate certificate final project at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). I filled an “exhibit catalogue” with illustrations, essays, poems, photography, and mixed media pieces as if they were part of a real exhibition of my life on display. For two years I asked hard questions, recognized truths that were not always kind, and learned self-compassion beyond anything an inspirational quote could provide. Perhaps most importantly, I gave myself a language for talking about my experiences as a woman and as a human being. It is this original project that became the framework for this digital experience. I wanted to empower other women to explore themselves and to create a community ready to support each other through that journey and beyond.


Built on the foundation of my original book, Brassy: an exhibition, this new expansion brings the ideas of self-discovery and womanhood into a public sphere. Where my original printed work was a personal exploration that reflected my own experiences, this digital iteration invites women from all over to ask questions, see through new lenses, and reflect on their own experiences together as part of a greater community.

Through this project, women are able to interact with the brassy platform as well as the ideas and conversations it brings up around womanhood, agency, modern society, self-discovery, and feminism. brassy is now more than a single book, it is a state of mind and a movement.

brassy was created to be a platform for women to hear each other’s stories, explore their identity as a woman, to reflect on the role of women in society, and celebrate our strength and collective power. It is dedicated to the care and keeping of all women, regardless of race, anatomy, sexuality, class, geography, or any factors used to divide us. The issues one woman faces is an issue for all women to tackle together. brassy is a community to allow for that kind of collaboration, support, and celebration.



In expanding my original project from a personal exploration to something much larger and public, I realized I needed additional perspectives in order to create the accessible and welcoming community I envisioned. My research led me to surveying women, asking what they considered to be important contributing factors to their identity as women; I read several books and articles about womanhood, feminism, and intersectional work; and I researched workbooks and sourced information from my network about what would be impactful and what could make a difference when women started their own journey through brassy. With all this in mind, I know that this journey will never truly end and that I am bound to make mistakes. That is why I promise to forever search out and listen to other voices, share experiences that challenge my worldview, and work to create a truly compassionate space.


bringing together brassy babes

My goal for brassy has always been to empower women. Knowing that my own perspectives cannot and should not speak for others. No matter how welcoming of a space I created, I was never going to be able to provide an authentic experience if I did not start including other voices immediately. As a result, I contacted women in my network to be contributors to this first quarter of brassy. Illustrators, writers, organizers, and other women all with meaningful stores, submitted pieces that spoke to their own experiences in womanhood. Not all of these submissions seem outwardly about life as a woman, but if I learned anything from unpacking my own identity, it is that women are far more than any definitions presented to us by society.

Thanks to the generous support and inspiration of numerous women, brassy includes essays, illustrations, and other narratives from women living out their truths. Alongside my own ideas, these voices help create an online space that allows women to explore their own thoughts, find commonalities, and support one another.


it’s your turn

When I designed brassy, I envisioned a space where women could come to learn, express, and soul-search. As you navigate these stories, you are invited to create your own, question your thoughts and theirs, move at your own pace, and return over and over again to revisit these conversations. Throughout the site, there are places where you can co-create an experience, drop some of your own knowledge and ideas, and more intentionally walk through your own sense of self. I hope you take a moment to join in those conversations and explorations—we would love to hear from you!

Thank you for taking the time to explore brassy. I hope you find this to be an authentic, interesting, and beautiful journey.


with love,



Maren Nelson, is a designer and writer in Minneapolis. A born storyteller, her goal is to make work that solves problems and brings beauty and joy into everyday life. You can follow her at @marstarmpls and learn more about her work at