A few days ago I announced three ‘Champagne’ sponsors for the event that I run, Ladies Wine Design (LWD)Edinburgh. Three fabulous companies that are committed to supporting our community throughout 2019. They’re made up of CreateFuture, WIRE and Kayla.
I was beyond excited to announce the new sponsors. Mainly, because it’s a massive weight off my shoulders; knowing LWD Edinburgh is somewhat secure, financially, for another year of events, but also because it gives me an opportunity to shout about LWD and praise this lot for stepping up and supporting women in our industry and our city.
In case you haven’t heard of us before; ‘Ladies Wine and a bit of Design’ is a global initiative, set up by Jessica Walsh in 2016. The events aim to foster female creativity through portfolio reviews, workshops and events. In a little over two years since launching, we’re now in over 200 cities across the world and growing day by day.
I’ve been running the Edinburgh chapter since May 2016 and we’ve evolved into a wonderful little community full of supremely talented ladies, from all walks of life. Where possible, our events are completely free, meaning that we depend on sponsorship to cover costs like venue hire (at the fabulous Hill Street Design House) bringing down workshop costs and, of course, a bottle of wine or two! My aim is to make LWD Edinburgh as accessible as possible, meaning that anyone can come along, have a wee vino and get to know some of the creative women in our city. At an LWD Edinburgh event, you’ll find juniors and students sitting next to CEOs and Creative Directors. Our events are open and honest and job titles are left at the door.
Through running LWD Edinburgh I’ve seen great partnerships made, friendships blossom and been witness to, what I think, it really means to be a woman in the creative industries. I feel like I was sold a bit of a raw deal when I first entered the industry. I was under some sort of illusion that everyone was out for herself and we’d have to fight each other to get to the top. Even more so, when there are so few women in leadership positions, it seemed like the gals at the top were the ‘ones to beat’.
Currently, it’s estimated that just 15–16% of Creative Directors in the UK are female. Granted, it’s a jump from the 12% it sat at just a couple of years ago, but at this rate, it will take 30 years to reach equality in creative departments. Looking at the classes of graduating designers it’s not uncommon for women to make up the majority percentage, but then what happens? It’s not surprising that wee naive Fee thought that in order for me to succeed I’d have to ‘act like a man’ and push my way to the top. That was, at the time, the narrative around women in power, but I’m glad to report ladies, that’s just not the case.
Watching LWD Edinburgh grow over the past 2 (almost 3) years has proven that I couldn’t have been more wrong. From the wonderful speakers who have given up their time and expertise to ‘host’ the events, to the attendees showing up each and every month excited and engaged and now, to our three brand new sponsors who jumped at the chance to support our community. It’s shown me that when women support each other, especially in our industry, amazing things can happen. The women that I meet through LWD aren’t my competition, they’re my allies and I’m damn glad to know them all.
Supporting communities like LWD Edinburgh is important. I genuinely think it’ll play a part in the long run to encourage a shift in our industry, making it a fairer, more equal place to work and hopefully, if it all pans out, new graduates will see their fellow women of design as collaborators, not competition.
So here’s to great women doing wonderful things in 2019, one glass of wine (and a bit of design) at a time.