An Honest Note From A Creative Founder
This year my studio, White Bear, proudly sponsors WhyDesign.
WhyDesign is an initiative set up by the IDI to showcase influential female designers who live and work in Ireland, with the aim of encouraging more women to enter, progress and thrive in the design industry.
As a founder and creative director, I want to share a short note about why ‘WhyDesign’ resonated with me on a personal level, apart from the obvious…being a female in design (doh!).
What a year 2018 was for women eh? ‘Times Up’ taking a stand in Hollywood, BBC pay gaps being exposed in the UK and the 8th amendment has been repealed in Ireland. At the same time one Irish Creative Director embarked on her first expedition into working parenthood with no guidebook and no sleep, just equipped with the quiet confidence that she can craft a nicely kerned SOS on her Instagram story should all else fail, useful? No. I was not trained for this.
We signed up to sponsor WhyDesign last year but it was only last Monday night, or should I say Tuesday morning, at 4.30am, sitting on the floor of Dublin airport on route to a pitch in Birmingham, unable to go through security as my body just said a hard ‘NO’ that I not only realised but truly felt why the design industry has a problem on their hands.
With an inner voice screaming ‘enough is enough, don’t get on the flight, you’re on antibiotics, you’ve had 1.5 hours sleep because of a teething, sick baby, you’re meant to be on annual leave, get a taxi home, fill a hot water bottle and get back into bed’ that I realised being a woman, a mother, a creative director and a business owner is bloody tough work.
This is WHY there aren’t more of us, women, in the design community, this is WHY we need to help each other and this is WHY support from the likes of WhyDesign and the IDI is so important. I know balancing work and life is not the single reason why only 11% of creative directors are women but currently this is the reason that resonates the most with me. I did, in the end get up and get on that flight for an 18 hour round trip, Why? Because I love and believe in what I do and that’s why I design.
WhyDesign and the 50/50 event on International Women’s Day is important to me as I’ve been the student in college with every visiting lecturer being male, I’ve been the designer looking to be promoted and aware of the shrinking amount of women at the levels I aspired to be at and this year (have I mentioned this already? haha) for the first time I’ve been the insecure mum returning to the workforce (after a very, very short maternity leave) wondering if I can be the person I was before or if the new me could be even better. I’ve been many different women in my still modest career but what I know 100% is that at every changing step an initiative like WhyDesign is needed to inspire, celebrate and encourage me/us to step forward so we don’t feel alone.
For International Women’s Day I’d like to celebrate some truly remarkable women who have inspired me over the course of this year, these women have either advised, championed or supported me, enabling me to keep going. Kim Mackenzie, your wonderful madness and determination is infectious, from volunteering at your Mind Over Matter initiative to sponsoring your WhyDesign baby, you’ve taken me under your wing, thank you! Anna Whitehouse, teaching me how to parent the sh*t out of life and ridding me of the guilt of finishing early on a Friday to be with my son. I’m a thorough believer of ‘Let’s Talk About Flex’. Catherine Moroney advising me to never make an important decision when emotional, so true and so needed on a cold Tuesday morning at 4.30am in Dublin Airport.
But let’s not forget, in order to have a 50/50 balance in the workplace it’s not just about the women, we need men’s support too. This awareness and openness to change I have positively noticed among many of my male peers. At the end of the day we’re all human and we need to support each other regardless of our gender. So it seems pertinent to give a salute to David Endersen raising the daddy bar to a whole new level and to Felix Velarde, for that much needed pat on the back and belief in me at a very important time.
So here is the call to action: Come to WhyDesign on Friday 8th March , support the 50/50 gender balance in design and hear inspirational talks from Natasha Jen of Pentagram and Thierry Brunfaut of Base Design.
We’re very proud to be sponsoring WhyDesign alongside: Vodafone Business, IDI, Deloitte Digital, Glasseye, US Embassy in Ireland, Bank of Ireland, InVision, Vision, Design Talent and Dublin City Council.