Future Focus is a series of interviews with individuals from various industries and backgrounds where we ask the question, what lies ahead in the future of their industry and ours? Each member of our team will take turns in interviewing inspirational individuals, each gaining a different point of view and coming into the interview from a place of curiosity and intrigue. In the spirit of International Womens Day and beyond, Our Revolution designers Faye and Lily seek to learn what other female creatives are thinking about the future and the way this is shaping their practice. We continue Volume One of our Future Focus series with our very own Founders, Jen Doran and Diana Yako.
We are intrigued by the stories of how Jen and Diana started their own agency, and often discuss the challenges and successes of those early days within our studio. We wanted to interview them to unpack how their past has shaped their present and also discuss any challenges they have faced throughout their careers as females in the creative industry. As female creatives ourselves we want to unravel the question of what does the future hold for women in creative leadership roles by understanding those who are already on this journey.
Diana: It was a changing landscape; we were seeing the rise of challenger brands and they were gaining considerable market share from traditional players. Although challenger brands have been around for a while, the number of challengers emerging, and the rise of DTC brands was starting to change categories and traditional players were starting to take them more seriously. The biggest challenge for both marketers and agencies was keeping up with the evolution of consumer culture which was happening at a much more rapid pace than ever before. We were seeing marketers' budgets diversify and spread across more channels to meet this evolution. We could hear their frustrations and struggles about the time and process required every time they engaged agencies. Although that pace has continued, the industry is now well versed in just how fast things can shift overnight. It's almost expected that culture is continually evolving, and we've developed ways of working to address that constant change.
Jen: The name ‘Our Revolution’ was literally the revolution Diana and I decided to make in our careers when we left our previous roles. I had the name in my head for a while and at the time Diana and I were both feeling pretty disenchanted with large agencies and had connected over the same frustrations. The name gave us a sense of purpose and a reason to push forward. When we founded Our Revolution, it had never been easier to start a brand and there was a start-up culture emerging in Sydney with revolution happening in many different industries. We wanted to be a part of that and being a smaller independent creative agency made that possible. Where once the name had only a personal meaning, today it connects with other founders and entrepreneurs we work with. With their own purpose of revolution in mind, Our Revolution is now a reminder that we are all part of something bigger than ourselves.
Diana: Any successful partnership is built first and foremost on mutual respect, trust, and a sharing of values. There also needs to be a deep understanding of what each brings to the equation and that each party is necessary for the success of the partnership. Jen and I have always mirrored these qualities and values and we understand our individual strengths. All partnerships require work, and investment - in time, energy, communication. Jen and I have always made it a priority to ensure our partnership is strong, we’ve worked hard to maintain and protect it. Partnerships are most successful when both leaders are striving for the same goal or goals, and we’ve been aligned in every step, and every choice we make for our business. We work through our options and choices, and make sure we both happily endorse every decision.
Jen: I think successful leaders lead by example. I try to express the behaviours and attitudes I want to see in our team. You want to work with talent, yet nobody wants to work with a talented arsehole. Being thoughtfully honest and always open to learning and adapting are qualities that we all need to embrace, even leaders. When we first started Our Revolution, our leadership was measured financially. It was just Diana and I and we needed to get the agency off the ground and build relationships with clients. Now we have a team who have their own ambitions and ideas, our leadership has adapted. Today we have a clear vision and direction to where Our Revolution is heading and lead with that in mind. This is so we attract and work with people who have the same vision and values. From there, creating an environment for everyone to do their best work is something I think about a lot. A huge part of my role is bringing out the potential in others and making sure they feel valued and supported.
Jen: As the number of people on our team has grown, the idea of Our Revolution has become more collaborative. When it was just Diana and I, the agency was very much a reflection of our own personal values and vision. But as we've brought on new team members, we incorporate their diverse perspectives and experiences into the work we do. This makes us better. As founders, we can no longer be involved in every aspect of the business, but we trust our team and the responsibility they have. We are more intentional about maintaining the culture and values that we established when it was just the two of us. The idea of Our Revolution has become more of a shared vision that is driven by the entire team, rather than just the two founders. It allows us to expand our business and helps us all create work we feel connected to.
Jen: In the early days of my career, I was fortunate to work with three different female Creative Directors. Each one was a source of inspiration of female leadership in the creative industry. I look back on that time now and think how lucky I was to be able to work with each of them. My inspiration also comes from the women who work at Our Revolution - you guys! (Faye & Lily) The way you both navigate working in creativity, your thoughts on design and culture - give me new perspectives to consider when guiding the direction of Our Revolution and the type of work we do. And it goes without saying, but I’m going to say it! My Co-founder Diana is a huge source of inspiration. There are obviously highs and low of running your own design agency. Diana and I have always had the knack when one of us is having a tough day, the other one picks us up and vice-a-versa.
Diana: As difficult as it may be, understanding the lesson behind the challenge is helpful and recognising that every challenge is an opportunity to learn. I try to remember the bigger picture, it puts any challenge into perspective. I’ve been fortunate to have built a network of people that I can rely on, those who have more experience, and knowledge, those who can support and encourage you. I think it's also important to take time for yourself to develop professionally. Take the course, read the book, attend the conference, network with your peers in the industry. Investing in your development will help prepare you for challenges and will keep you in a mindset where you are open to learning.
Diana: Do it. Be prepared for an emotional rollercoaster, particularly at the beginning - the highs will be higher, but the challenges will also be felt more. And if you’re thinking about venturing out with a partner, choose wisely. They will not only be critical to your business, they will also have a monumental impact on your everyday life. Boundaries between work and personal life often become blurred, particularly when you’re running your own business (I am forever thankful that I am partnered with Jen). Similarly, each team member you bring onboard reflects your business, think carefully about who you want representing your brand.
Jen: The evolution of culture and people's consumption habits will always shape the future of consumer branding. We get the brands we deserve. People seeking more transparency and accountability from brands is only going to increase, which is great. Advancing technology will give consumer brands new ways to connect with people. It will also give us new ways to create the brands themselves. We’ve obviously seen the rhetoric around Ai and the impact it will have on our industry. We’re on the side of embrace it, adapt with it, don’t exploit it. Pandoras Ai box is already open - it's important we understand it, follow its progression, and decide how we are to utilise it in our practice. Brands have huge influence in our culture. This only emphasises their responsibility to be ‘better’. We already see brands we’ve worked with like Chobani, adopt a more holistic approach to their business practices. From supporting social causes or investing in the well-being of their employees, I hope we see more brands and businesses do this in the future.
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