A few weeks ago, Women Who brought together three women who are shaping the face of design in London (and beyond!) for a design-focused panel discussion in the Ace Hotel’s gorgeous 100 Room. Covering everything from the importance of good mentors to how to self-promote effectively, our panellists Camille Walala, Sarah Boris and Jenny Brewer shared a tonne of insightful advice on how to build a successful creative career.
As always – I’ve recapped a few of the highlights for those who couldn’t join us below, alongside a couple of photos of our panellists in action – enjoy!
ON AVOIDING CREATIVE BURN OUT
[SARAH] There are definitely moments when work can feel a bit repetitive, so when I feel that coming on I take a step back and try to do something super-new, or I reach out to people I’ve always wanted to work with, as a way of injecting something new into my life.
ON SAYING ‘NO’
[JENNY] Sometimes standing your ground and saying ‘no’ can earn you more respect. My top tip is to use your integrity as an anchor and to really know what you want – don’t be afraid to say no.
ON MANAGING CLIENTS
[SARAH] Pick your battles and be patient. You need to be willing to educate your clients about the best way of doing things – and also remember that they’ve come to you because you’re an expert in your field.
[CAMILLE] Instagram works really well for me because I’m really visual, and I love taking photos. I use it sort of as a visual diary of my day, but I am still ‘selling myself’ on Instagram – I don’t have pictures of myself drinking with my friends, for instance. It’s mostly pictures of work or related things. I always try to link my social media to what I’m trying to say about myself, like a brand. The great thing about social media is you can really sell yourself, whereas before you needed an agent to get your name out there.
ON SOFT POWER
[JENNY] I’ve worked under two amazing female editors who’ve taught me that you don’t necessarily have to be this bolshy, loud person in order to be assertive and get your point across.
ON WHAT MAKES A WINNING REBRAND
[JENNY] Clarity. A very simple idea, carried through with a clear message and purpose. You can always tell when there’ve been too many cooks. It’s all about simplicity – the great rebrands we see at It’s Nice That have all used very simple ideas, colours and shapes, and there’s a purpose for every element – nothing’s just for show.
ON COMMUNICATING YOUR IDEAS
[JENNY] When writing about your work and yourself [e.g. for your personal website, or when pitching media outlets], think of what you’re writing as something you’d read in a newspaper. In the top paragraph a news story will tell you the who, what, when, and why, so consider that when writing about a project, or a biography about yourself. When you’re emailing someone, apply the same principle – don’t write 500 words about the concept of a project, without clearly explaining what it actually is! Don’t be cryptic. You’d be surprised at how many personal websites fail to include vital information about who the person is, where they’ve studied, where they’re from, and what their inspirations are – that’s all really key information. Editors often don’t have the time to dig deep and find the answers, so you need to get all the facts in there as clearly as possible. Also: have plenty of high-quality, large images of your work on your website.
ON GETTING AN AGENT
[JENNY] It can be a really valuable way of connecting with bigger brands and clients – a lot of them don’t have the time, resources, or energy to spend ages finding new talent, so an agent can be a great connector.
ON LEAVING A FULL TIME JOB TO GO FREELANCE
[SARAH] I started telling people I was leaving soon, and that if they had anything coming up to let me know – and they did! My network came in really handy, and I think that shows the importance of networking. It’s also important not to be shy about telling people what you’re doing. I get a lot of my projects through word-of-mouth.