Krista Anne Nordgren
November 27th 2017
The founders of People of Creativity discuss building solidarity, how they make connections through storytelling, and how to make an impact on the creative industry.
People of Creativity is a UK-based company, founded by Jai Clarke-Binns and Soala Brogan Anabraba, that’s on a mission to better the representation of marginalized identities throughout the creative industries. They’re partnered with us on our Fall Scholarship, and join us on the blog to discuss more about their events, their favorite moments, and how to get involved.
On your website, you mention People of Creativity was founded as a result of frustration. Can you give a name to that frustration, and talk more about PoC’s origins?
Jai Clarke-Binns: I can remember the exact moment we decided we needed to start something. We were sitting in a meeting room covered with post-its after having a call with a colleague about the lack of conversation taking place about people of color in our workforce. At this point our day jobs were focused on increasing diversity in tech, but sadly the conversation usually emphasized the gender gap, which can inadvertently cause those in other underrepresented groups to feel even more isolated. We were deflated after our call, and it was that very moment that we decided to start the change we wanted to see and People of Creativity was born.
People of Creativity is a platform for creatives of color to share their stories and thoughts on the industry. As we all know, ideas morph and change until you wrestle them to something more manageable. At the beginning, we had ambitions to take over the world with a range of events and workshops. And then reality kicks in when you also have a full-time job.
Going forward we are focusing on events which allow PoC from all career stages to story-tell, and we will focus on writing insight articles which highlight creatives as well.
One of the first People of Creativity events
Tell us about the focus of PoC’s work.
Soala Brogan Anabraba: Honestly, the main focus of our work is to change the narrative when talking about diversity in creative industries by highlighting incredible people of color and their work. We are really people-focused; we’re always excited to meet creatives of color and hear their stories – the triumphs and the troubles.
What’s your favorite part of running PoC?
JCB: Starting People of Creativity has been so much fun, but it has also had its ups-and-downs. I finally understand why most people do not attempt to start their own business.
But getting the chance to connect and vibe off of new people and organizations makes People of Creativity 100% worth it. The moment I get to explain our purpose and meet someone that wants to know more–that’s what gets me super excited.
“If you want to work in the creative industry, believe us, there is a place for you.”
In our experience, something really special happens when you gather people together in person. What’s the tone of the room during events? Can you give us a feel for what happens, and what the community is like?
JCB: You’re totally right, we love engaging in thought-provoking conversations through our social channels, but nothing compares to IRL events.
We try to create inspiration at various stages within the industry, whether you have just started to code or you’re a founder. As a result, the energy in the room is through the roof! You can almost feel the creativity flowing.
The main vibe is a feeling of solidarity, knowing that you’re not alone in the industry, and that often the problems you face have been dealt with by someone else within our community.
Can you highlight some of your favorite stories coming out of PoC?
JCB: I will never forget our first event, wow! Soala and I were so excited that we finally launched, and we really didn’t anticipate that over 100 people would show. One of the first speakers was Khalia Ismain, the founder of Jamii, who is an extraordinary entrepreneur–we always have to mic check women of color. Khalia spoke about how she was launching her website and how it was all going a little bonkers. However, in the face of all the uncertainty, she was going to launch that weekend. You have to love a person with that resolve that has the ability to still laugh and smile.
SBA: Personally, I think our Black History Month event in 2016 was a highlight. We had a full house and a night filled with laughter and tears. We welcomed the Black British Business Awards founder Melanie Eusbe, who got really personal explaining how her upbringing contributed to her success and determination. Often, people in senior positions rarely show vulnerability or that ‘human’ side of them, but Melanie opened up which allowed so many to connect with her. It offered the opportunity to see the power in your past, but most importantly it was just real – no ego – and that’s something we really value in our community.
One of the first People of Creativity events
What’s next for Poc? How can our UK folks get engaged?
SBA: We are working on a project which is about to go live any minute now, STROBE. And it is going to be big.
The future is currently looking busy! We are really pushing to do more collaborative events with organizations and work out ways we can create ongoing partnerships. We are super interested in making connection with organisations who are working to change the perception of PoC whilst being creative and uplifting. We also have ambitions that are larger than our two person outfit, so we would love to do something with Google. As an organisation they work across multiple stratas of creativity from AI through to advertising so the scope for partnership is BOUNDLESS. Reflecting on our journey so far, we have learned one pivotal piece of information: we can’t cause the change we want alone. Collaboration is necessary.
For the UK SuperHi fans, firstly we want to say hello and please follow our Twitter account.
On social media we share opportunities for jobs, events and celebration. So if you are doing something as a PoC and want some signposting we are happy to help, and if you are not a PoC but you might want to engage more PoC, again we are happy to share an opportunity.
What’s something you want the design and code community to know?
JCB: As two people sitting just outside of the core creative disciplines, we want everyone to know there are jobs and space in the creative industry. The range of skills needed to build a beautiful website or launch a product are varied, which makes this a viable industry for people from all backgrounds. So if you want to work in the creative industry, believe us, there is a place for you!
Thank you to the awesome CreateHER stock photography website for the header image.