100 Women, 100 Stories: Brianna Wilson

Where do you live? New York, NY

What is your profession? Founder / Creative Director of With the Locals

How did you decide to start your company and what’s the story there? When I graduated from college, I had every intention of being a film editor. I started out working as a receptionist at a commercial post house and worked up to an assistant editor at a house that produced and edited projection content for musicians and entertainers. My last stint in editing was a position that offered me some rare opportunities. While I’ll never take those experiences for granted, I just didn’t love editing. I really wanted to, I saw the potential path I was very very lucky to stumble upon but it wasn’t the right fit.

I spent the next couple of years really struggling to figure out which direction I wanted my career to go in. I had invested so much time, education, energy, money, and mental space convincing myself (and others) that ‘editing is my path’ … that when it wasn’t, I felt a massive amount of self doubt. I thought perhaps I had wasted many valuable years. It took a while for me to refocus and accept that I am not my job — my worth is not based on my job title.

By 2014, I knew for sure I wanted to focus on photography in one way or another — it had always been the backbone to my creative and educational pursuits. It’s something that has never exhausted me. Then Instagram began to really evolve. It all came together pretty quickly, after realizing my phone was full of screenshots that I had saved of places people had posted. I wanted to bring all those interesting places to one space. Suggestions and city tours that were more personal and dynamic than just “The Best Whatever in Town, USA”.

That summer I launched With the Locals — a constantly growing collective of personalities sharing their favorite spots in their home town. Each week, a new local in a new city takes over the Instagram account — posting about their best loved, most trusted, and often frequented spots. A unique travel guide to various cities by the people who love and live in them.

Along with With the Locals, I freelance with a wonderful company. I think it’s important to state that because the reality is that life is expensive. I don’t want to give the illusion that this isn’t a whole lot of work and money is no concern, I don’t think that does anyone any favors. It’s a wonderful situation, I love the people I work with and the work we accomplish — it nothing but inspiration and motivation.

What did you study in school? I majored in Film and Video Production and minored in English at Penn State University.

If it’s relevant to your career now, how did you know you wanted to study that? Not in a traditional sense but from a very early age I enjoyed being visually creative. I would make animations and drawings on a toy drawing pad — it was really a child’s version of a Wacom Tablet, that would display on the TV. And I figured out that if I hooked up the VHS player just so, I could record the images. I would draw something, press record, pause, move the image, press record, etc etc etc. Later, it was my 2 megapixel camera that came everywhere with me. In high school, I was able to devote a portion of my day to Audio Video classes. It gave me enough of a foundation to feel confident about wanting to continue to learn more about Film and Photography.

What advice do you have for someone looking to do something outside their field of study and how should they approach it? Do your research. Reach out to people for advice. Then get out there and actually do it. If we all waiting for the perfect moment, I don’t think a lot of projects would materialize.

What’s the hardest thing that you’ve had to deal with in your career so far? Simple, sexism. I’ve experienced it at every job I’ve had since I started working at the age of 15. Unfortunately, I know it’s terribly common for most women.

What has been a really rewarding moment in your career? After investing so much into this idea, I’m just getting to a place where I’m starting to simply enjoy it. I’m happy With the Locals has survived and grown this much, so thankful for the support from not only the lovely people in my life but so many other kind individuals. I’m rewarded by the fact that I’m just excited by the potential because ultimately it the possibilities that motivate me.

What do you want to accomplish in your lifetime? I would like to build something that is bigger than myself, something that stands on it’s own. That could be With the Locals or something else down the line but I hope there is something positive to leave behind… which will probably be a book about donuts ;)

What’s something you want young women to remember when thinking about their future? Don’t worry about what everyone else is doing — if you’re interested in something, go after it. Do the research, trust your instincts, put in the time, work hard, and surround yourself with good kind people.

What’s one thing you want to try to make an impact on in your lifetime? When you look at the history books, it’s so male dominated- almost as if women haven’t even existed yet. Obviously, that’s not true. I hope I can help do my part by building a platform for everyone, and especially women, to voice their perspectives and stories. I’m tired of the illusion that history is being created by a very singular group of people.

Where can people find you on social media?

Personal : @campwilson / www.camp-wilson.com

Work : @withthelocals / www.withthelocals.co