Sketchbook was kindly invited to attend the Levi’s launch of a new initiative, which aims to help young women break into the creative industries and communicate with women all around the world.
“Levi’s® – the original, definitive jeans brand – will soon unveil to the world, a new global community where Millennial women can network and interact with peers and mentors to help them progress both personally and professionally in pursuit of their creative passions.”
The ambassadors and panelists:
Five areas of the creative industries were recognised by Levi’s and there was a millennial woman on the panel to represent each one.
The five areas were; fashion, art, music, social entrepeneurship and film.
- Kristen Knox, the founder of the blog, The Clothes Whisperer, was invited through fashion to speak on the panel.
- The founders of the design agency Patternity, which specialises in the application of pattern to furniture and fashion, Art director Anna Murray and textiles designer Grace Winteringham were invited through art.
DJ Ikonika, also an acclaimed songwriter, was there through music; she has created her own unique sound, with hooks influenced by dubstep.
Birmingham-native Justice Williams MBE, represented the social entrepreneurs, who have through either hardship, or recognition of the worldwide struggle have gone on to help change the face of society, globally and locally.
Kathryn Ferguson, a self-taught filmmaker from Belfast, has had work premiered at institutions including the ICA, the OnedotZero and Birds Eye View film festivals.
There will be 20 millennial women ambassadors, alongside the 6 mentioned including British singer/songwriter Shingai Shoniwa, lead singer of Noisettes, who was there on the night to perform and speak about her career path and success, with American actress Zooey Deschanel and American singer/songwriter Janelle Monae, whom everyone knows I absolutely love, all hosting live video-casts to further inspire community members.
(L-R) Annie Mac, Anna Murray, Grace Winteringham, Justice Williams MBE, Kristen Knox, Ikonika, Kathryn Ferguson.
The panel discussion:
The night started with the panel discussion, which showed us, how inspiring each female is, the struggles they’ve been through and how they hope to keep improving in the future.
The panel moderator, Annie Mac, asked them all how and when they decided to go against the mould and follow their dreams and how much work was involved.
Justice Williams MBE, said she’d inspired to be more than what she’d planned and that even though she went against the law when she was 21, she wanted to guide others that had also done so into a different path, one they can create, mould and live themselves.
As long as she was happy, DJ Ikonika said she didn’t mind being broke for a while during university, because sometimes living a minimal life is necessary to be happy in life and get to where you want to be.
When asked by an audience member what piece of serious advice they’d give their younger self, the panel were divided, Williams answered that she wished she hadn’t spread herself too thinly as all the ideas that were whizzing around her head were only getting a certain percentage of effort.
Knox replied saying that people, especially women, shouldn’t box themselves with rigid goals that sometimes aren’t tangible, she said when you’re starting out take every single opportunity, whether it be writing or DJing, as you never know where and who it may lead to.
All the ladies, including the ones in the audience acknowledged how little business education is taught during degrees and school-life. Many females want to start their own business or design company but do not understand the level of business planning, savvy and work goes into it, leaving some to give up on their dreams.
Anna Murray and Grace Winteringham both said that there is no fixed path to success, neither is there a form of directly entering the industry and there is not on ounce of business mentoring offered along one’s path into the industry. They didn’t know how to price their work and know that many people shy away from anything remotely mathematical.
Ferguson said that more mentoring is needed as it brings the lacking confidence in young women and that her mentor absolutely saved her when it came to giving her the advice she needed to pretend to be a “big director” when she’d only done small jobs in front of Lady Gaga and her team!
Feminism was brought up by I guess a feminist and the panel went silent, perhaps hoping they wouldn’t have to answer such questions. Some people sighed in the crowd but diplomatic answers like “I’m proud to be a DJ but I don’t have to always say I’m a female DJ” and “Even though I have an MBE, titles and labels aren’t something I live off of, I’m a female entrepreneur yes, and even though I’m a female I wouldn’t want that to be my defining feature.” You get the drift.
“Have you had to make sacrifices and have they been worthwhile yet?” asked a lady in the audience, Knox, Williams and Ikonika all mentioned that they had to live on a champagne and canapé diet, on jam on toast and tea for 6 months and on pennies, respectively to get to where they are now. Sacrifices and cuts are things that just have to be made in this industry if you want to be successful. Williams said if you shy away from making sacrifices, you are not passionate enough. Her sacrifices eventually turned into an MBE and tea with Sarah Brown, I think I need some more jam then!
The girls from Patternity ended the talk nicely saying that women shouldn’t say yes to things that will get them a quick buck but should be thinking about moving their brand forward.
Keeping up the “creative satisfaction” and “meeting inspiring people” is in their words, invaluable.
The launch night, with Shingai from the Noisettes:
The night was a success, with loads of familiar faces being there! I made it my point to also network around and hear what other women were doing too! It was a great pleasure to finally got to see my friend Emily from Fashion Foie Gras and meet the elusive Butters the Pom, such a cute dog!
The Noisettes performed a great set with all my favourite tracks included, including the smash hit, “Don’t Upset the Rhythm” (No!)
Shingai totally recognized me and she blew the roof off with her amazing voice, she’s a natural talent! She was speaking about how her family had known she would be a star all along and the way the band would slip in random demo songs on track-listings at weddings to test their popularity out.
She’s extremely beautiful and very funny as we found out on the night, I laughed loudly at one of her jokes and the crowd wondered whether a cackle that piercing could come from a human being.
Ikonika closed, the night with a special DJ set.
How “Shape What’s to Come” came about:
“ShapeWhatsToCome.com follows the August 2010 introduction of the revolutionary Levi’s® Curve ID fit system. Based on shape, not size, it was created as a result of studying more than 60,000 women’s body scans and listening to women around the world. “
Young women in the UK, the US and Japan will be able to make connections and collaborate with like-minded, inspirational women, exchange advice and information.
The “Shape What’s to Come” site launches on this Monday (18/10/10).
I think this is a great initiative and I’m so pleased that Levi’s could lead the way, in such a big way, to help young women following their dreams all over the world.
Head down to these links to see more:
http://www.amariahsworld.co.uk/ – Justice Williams MBE
WORDS and IMAGES: Cleide Carina