Words of Colour Productions is a creative communications agency that promotes, facilitates and develops writers of colour — of all genres, collaborates with arts and creative industries to increase cultural inclusion, and creates multi-platform projects to reshape the single narrative misrepresenting diverse communities. We caught up with its founder — and new Second Home member — Joy Francis, to find out more about her company’s goals.
Hi, Joy. What is the best thing about running Words of Colour?
The inspiring people I get the opportunity to work with, and the collaborations we manage to generate, sustain and personally grow from.
How is Words of Colour disrupting your industry?
By our very existence. By making so-called ‘outsider’ voices heard in the mainstream so that when we get the clichéd and stock ‘it will take time for real change to happen’ response, we disagree, go back to our alternative landscapes to find the right collaborators to forge creative solutions to disrupt the single narrative dominating the media, tech and creative industries. We do this through original storytelling, identifying hidden talent, hosting events that challenge the prevailing thinking by having emerging and veteran cultural influencers and change-makers in the same solution-focused space, and by initiating new research and inclusive campaigning.
“Trust your instincts. Do your research. Find the right legal structure for your business. Talk your ideas and aspirations into reality. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do and are empathetic.”
What advice would you give somebody thinking about starting their own company?
Trust your instincts. Do your research. Find the right legal structure for your business. Get an exceptional financial adviser/accountant who also has some experience of your industry. Talk to peer agencies. Network. Identify critical friends and mentors. If you don’t ask, you won’t get, so ask. Talk your ideas and aspirations into reality. Don’t feel that you have to have a specific amount of money in place before you leap into the unknown. Surround yourself with people who know more than you do and are empathetic. And ensure you have a very clear definition of self care in advance so you can sustain yourself.
What recent project are you the most proud of and why?
Our Digital Women UK’s Missing in Action (MIA) programme, which celebrated its first anniversary with its second event (Tackling the myths of money, self care and the Imposter Syndrome) in partnership with Loughborough University London on 26 November. We launched MIA with Dr Angela Martinez Dy to tackle the lack of research and financial and professional development support for female creatives, emerging entrepreneurs and women in tech, in the sphere of digital enterprise.
What kind of women do you attract to the MIA events?
It’s a diverse range of women — artists, writers, entrepreneurs, designers, health specialists, startups, UXers, entrepreneurship academics; women who often would never be in the same room as each other. We hosted the inaugural event in Nottingham, this year’s in London and next year we have been invited to run the programme in the South West. We are looking forward to running a series of MIA workshops and masterclasses with some amazing facilitators in 2017.
What is your favourite design feature about Second Home?
I love the curves as I am a fan of the Spanish architect Antoni Gaudi for that very reason, but my favourite design feature is the stairs that link the second and third floors. Although they are industrial, utilitarian and modern, I feel like Gloria Swanson’s character Norma Desmond in Sunset Boulevard each time I walk down them.
How has being at Second Home helped your work?
I have already collaborated with roaming member, the dynamic registered nutritionist, author and entrepreneur Rachel Martino on our MIA programme. We are planning to work on a culture and food-based project in 2017.
What person / company has inspired you the most?
My mother, hands down. She was an entrepreneur when it wasn’t a widely used or understood term, and at a time when the term certainly wasn’t applied to women, especially women of colour.
Outside of work, what place in London stimulates your imagination the most and why?
Southbank. I love the striking design, expansiveness and solidity of the Hungerford Bridge. The skyline which surrounds it is urban and breathtaking, as is the creative energy and buzz that always greets you when you arrive on the Southbank side. The buildings aren’t the most aesthetically pleasing, and the layout is warren-like and dated, but I always feel excited when I arrive and mentally plan for my return trip when I leave.
We ask everyone to select a book to become part of Libreria’s permanent collection. Which book would you choose and why?
Zora Neale Hurston — Their Eyes Were Watching God. This book touched me and made me cry and laugh. Zora was a pioneer in her time and her words and vision still resonate and have relevance now. She also influenced and inspired other great women writers, such as Alice Walker and Toni Morrison.
Second Home is a creative workspace and cultural venue, bringing together diverse industries, disciplines and social businesses. Find out more about joining us here: secondhome.io