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Photos of the Elephant Room participants

Creative Storytellers

One Month Mentors for Black History Month

At Clarks, we’re always looking to do more to support and amplify the Black creative community – so, this Black History Month, we continued our work with inclusive branding agency The Elephant Room to offer professional guidance and events to champion emerging Black creatives.

As part of One Month Mentors Great Strides, ten senior mentors from the creative industry teamed up with ten mentees from the Black community, for an inspirational professional development programme – aimed at building meaningful, sustainable relationships and supporting the mentees’ future careers.

Here, our mentees share their partnership experiences – from cultivating lasting creative connections and the game-changing power of accountability, to getting a serious confidence boost when it comes to new opportunities.

Denzel wearing Wallabee Maple Suede

Denzel

My name is Denzel Kessie, and I'm a freelance illustrator and graphic designer.

Why is it important for you to be mentored?

I've managed to secure many clients as a freelancer, but I struggle to take that next step career-wise. I'm not sure how to elevate my career to a higher place than it already is.

Proudest moments during the programme?

During a meeting with my mentor Adam, he let me know that I already have what I need to succeed, and surprisingly, he even said I was more talented than him. So, I'm extremely confident that I can take my career to the next level now. Not only because of my mentor, but because of the multiple guest speakers too. Plus, having all these people become part of my network (speakers, mentors and mentees) is huge career progress already.

  • Tasha wearing Wallabee Maple Suede

Tasha

I'm Tasha, a Bristol-based freelance portrait and fashion photographer.

How would you describe what you do in three words?

Create dope pictures.

Why was it important for you to be mentored?

Throughout my career I have never had any creative guidance so having the opportunity to have a Black female mentor, who knows how to step into and beyond the creative industry, has helped me to see things through a fresh pair of eyes. It's important to have a form of support that will give you professional guidance to push you.

Proudest moments during the programme?

My proudest moment was showing my mentor my work and getting such positive feedback from it. Especially any new work I shared. Knowing such an iconic Black female creative believes in me and is guiding me to do great things with honest intentions has been the best experience. I feel more confident in knowing I can approach new opportunities.

Elede wearing Wallabee Maple Suede

Elede

I’m 22, born and raised in London, from Ethiopia. I recently finished studying Business management and marketing at Nottingham Trent Uni and have been doing internships, and work experiences to get some understanding of advertising/ marketing. I have a real interest in advertising and events and want to eventually have my own agency that involves doing both. Personal passions of mine are fashion, friends, and I recently picked up DJing, so you’ll hopefully be seeing me doing sets at events by summer 2022 ;)

Proudest moments during the programme?

The photoshoot was something I haven’t done before, so I was pretty proud of myself for doing that. Thanks to the guys for making feel comfortable :) In terms of career, I feel the sessions have helped me understand the different ways of entering the industry – and with my mentor, my personal development in writing my first elevator pitch. The Elephant Room has definitely reassured me that the connections I have made with new creatives will last, and some socials or events to build this would be great! I’m also starting to think of personal passion projects to establish my creative ability on the side whilst finding an advertising agency where I can work on projects for brands I know and love.

  • Winnie wearing Wallabee Maple Suede

Winnie

My name is Winnie Imara, I'm an actor, writer and producer. I run an initiative called '7blackwomen', a collective of Black and mixed women aiming to create work for film, TV & theatre. I'm also the founder of 'Heritage & Honour', a social enterprise sharing Black British Female history from 1500-1999.

Why was it important for you to be mentored?

I believe in gaining wisdom from others; there are so many things I don't know and it's great to have someone else to guide you and support you. Also being mentored is great accountability, helping you consistently pursue and reach the goals and dreams you want to achieve.

Proudest moments during the programme?

I feel confident about my career in a new and fresh way – seeing different ways of approaching your creative career and thriving in it. Because of this programme I definitely feel like I can have a full-time creative career that suits me.

Mohamed wearing Wallabee Maple Suede

Mohamed

My name is Mohamed Ahmed and I’m a recent graduate of Computer Science, and a photographer and model. I aspire to break into the creative industry and I’m beginning my journey by exploring the marketing and advertising world.

Tell us about what inspires your creativity.

I’m a very visual person, I’m a lover of all things aesthetic, which is probably what drew me to shoot photos on film. I love seeing a good film portrait or a well-designed product. Literally anything from a phone to furniture or even an advert. Anything that makes me stop and I think “this is really beautifully made” or “how would I put my own spin on this?”

Secondly, I would say meeting other creatives and being in creative spaces like the One Month Mentor programme is energising. You’re reminded that there are all these people on the same journey as you, but also that they’re willing to help and share ideas and resources. It gets me thinking about what the possibilities could be if we were to collaborate in the future.

Why was it important for you to be mentored?

Direction is important for someone like me who’s interested in everything but has trouble starting. It’s good to have someone to hold you accountable and to guide you to places that you never thought of – as the marketing and advertising world is all new to me.

What's the next big thing on your to-do list?

Complete a creative project that I can be proud of and show off to potential employers. I’m thinking of something in the realm of video, but I’d also like to dabble with photography and design too. Lots of learning and experimenting to do. The aim is to find out where I can add the most value creatively.

Joseph wearing Wallabee Maple Suede

Joseph

I work in a political think tank and freelance as a portrait photographer, living in Hertfordshire based in London. I also run the youth-focused music, fashion and culture magazine NUPRINT Mag as well as producing a female-led music talk show/podcast called Rhymeshe. I play rugby and love rollerskating and cooking vegan food in my spare time.

What has been one of your proudest moments? How confident are you about your career development now?

Being able to talk very candidly and frankly with people that inspire me within the industry. I found the session with Jide particularly noteworthy and useful. I was able to ask the important, slightly crucial questions I was thinking, and I learned a lot from his responses. I also loved the mental health session with Penne Belle. As someone that works full-time alongside freelance/creative work, Mercedes’s talk was very grounding and useful.

What's the next big thing on your to-do list?

To launch a print version of my magazine and host my own photography exhibition around Black Britishness and African heritage.

Fatima

My name is Fatima and I am an aspiring creative director and producer. At the moment, I am working as a healthcare support worker and I also do nail art in my spare time. Although I do enjoy the work that I do, this is not where my heart resides. I have always loved to create and be able to bring ideas to life; whether it is DIYing my clothes, using nails as a canvas to create cool artistic designs, or creating nice visual ideas to shoot. My main creative interests are photography, video production, nail art, and fashion. And, I’ve always wanted to have a job that complements my interests.

Tell us about what inspires your creativity.

I get inspired by my environment, whether it is an exhibition that I have attended, a book that I’ve read, a show that I’ve watched, a conversation that I’ve had with someone or even a design which caught my eye. My inspiration can stem from anything. Inspiration is limitless though I do sometimes suffer from creative blockages. I usually resolve this by writing down my thoughts, letting them marinate for a few days, and then coming back to it.

Why was it important for you to be mentored?

Personally, I am quite productive when I have an accountability partner, so having a mentor works similarly. I am at a point in my life where I need to get things done and learn as much as I can to progress. So, having a mentor was beneficial in that sense, and I am a firm believer that there’s always something to learn from someone whether it is positive or negative. And in my case, this experience was positive.

What's the next big thing that's on your list to do?

To launch the skincare brand that I’ve had in the works for the past year.