The pocket girlfriend guide to life

by Jenna-Ley Harrison

Jo Ann Darby, author of “The Girlfriend Book,” poses with her daughter, Alana, whom she called her “original girlfriend.” The book was released earlier this year and has prompted a great response.

CORNELIUS – What started as a way to pass life lessons to her daughter, has quickly grown into a movement for Jo Ann Darby and thousands of women.

Several years ago Darby, owner of Lake Norman Skin Studio in Cornelius, began keeping a journal of tips for her then 4-year-old daughter, Alana. Tips like: “The curve of your smile keeps a lot of things straight,” “you are a little of each person you meet” and “when in doubt, do nothing.”

It was those tips and nearly 500 more that make up Darby’s “The Girlfriend Book,” a collection of friendly advice on topics from beauty and fitness to love and happiness.

“My main goal is to encourage women, tell them no one is perfect, that they are loved and to have some fun,” Darby said.

Darby spent years listening to friends dole out advice, quietly handwriting them in her notebook. And after seven years of compiling, friends and clients of her shop kept asking for copies.

“They kept asking me for a handwritten copy of my ‘girlfriend book’ because they said I gave them the best advice,” Darby said.

So she decided to publish her “golden nuggets” in the book with Warren Publishing, located in Cornelius. Since its April release, it’s created a groundswell. More than 5,000 people are following Darby on, and sales have been strong. A producer in Los Angeles has called and is discussing turning the book into a movie, a “remaking of ‘Steel Magnolias,’” she said.

Darby believes many women are overburdened and are looking for some girlfriend advice.

“We have so many areas in our life where we are trying to be superwoman,” she said.  “We don’t have time to sit down and read an entire book. We need little nuggets that will pop into our head when we need them.”

Fans have praised the book since its release and have sent in several thank-you notes to its author.

“I like how the book is broken down into sections,” Heather Brown of Denver said.  “It allows you to go quickly to the area that relates to your need so that you find a great tip.”

Cindi VanWingerden, of Huntersville, likes the chapters on friendship, love and happiness.

“Life is all about relationships, and strong relationships are what make our lives more meaningful and fun,” she said.

VanWingerden feels the book is for anyone, no matter her age.

“While some advice is specific to a certain time in our lives (i.e. wedding tips), most is everyday advice that women of all ages will find useful,” she said.

While the women have found something in the book that speaks to them, many also point to Darby as someone who has been able to help them in their lives.

“She is the ultimate girlfriend,” VanWingerden said.

Want more information?
To learn more about “The Girlfriend Book” visit or search for it on or The book can be purchased at local bookstores and

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