Proptar, a creative consultancy agency joined forces with University of The Arts London for “Creative Enterprise Week” which proved to be a great success from both parties. Panellists included Nik Thakkar, a style and cultural influencer who has co-curated design-art projects and exhibitions; Mercedes Benson, a freelance Social Media Influencer and Marketing Specialist who has curated events at Google on several different occasions; Charlie Craggs, a trans activist and the founder of award winning national campaign ‘Nail Transphobia’.
The topic of discussion was based around Social Entrepreneurship and how these lovely panellists managed to use social media to their advantage to create such a massive platform. Mercedes Benson delved into ‘Social Fixt’ and the reason she created it:
“It’s a platform on Twitter which has extended into Facebook, and we provide job opportunities for black and brown people, but it’s for all people.” Benson continues: “I found that whenever I had a job opportunity there was always an air of tokenism. I always seemed to be the only black person present, so Social Fixt was created to provide people like myself with opportunities they’re unaware about.”
In answer to a question that was posed during the talk regarding her business model, Mercedes commented:
“It’s crucial to use online tools to connect with people who have similar interests to you. I’m always googling how to create a business model as there are templates and I’ve also realised that to start a business you don’t have to use your own money. You can take advantage of trusts and grants from your university.”
That said, there are various funding opportunities here at UAL that can help you to try out your ideas and business models such as The SEED Fund: Money for Business and the Arts SU: Student Initiative Fund.
Proptar’s founder, Amos, chimed in and added: “You must understand your market. You need a sole vision of what you essentially do; You need to understand what are the skill sets and how they benefit your idea. Another key is to have a strong team! Try searching for people who can build your idea.
Nik Thakker dominated the conversation and was very vehement about his beliefs and always stuck by them and applied it to every situation he encountered. In his own words he shared a piece of advice with the attendees: “I think it’s important to always speak out against things you believe in. You guys MUST speak up. I’ve been fired from so many jobs for speaking up, tough shit!!”
This is something I’m sure many of us can relate to, often feeling like speaking out is a gamble as we might lose out on amazing opportunities, when the complete opposite is normally what happens. Particularly considering that we live in an era where activism and speaking out is now celebrated. Charlie Cragg touched on speaking out and diversity in relation to collaborating with notable brands:
“A lot of brands are very inauthentic about supporting diversity. For example, when Munroe spoke out about being a Trans Black woman, a well-known cosmetics company removed her from the campaign and it just highlights the issues within these companies which is that they pretend to care to avoid being branded as bigots.”
The conversation throughout was very thought-provoking and interactive as the audience also participated in the discussion as most were aspiring entrepreneurs. One of the questions posed by an audience member related to tokenism:“I currently work at a predominantly white space. And I know you worked for Google so how did you manage?”
Mercedes replied by saying:
“It’s all about creating allies and realising that it will be difficult but you have to play the game and take advantage of your position to excel. One thing I had to realise the hard way is that I saw big brands and thought, it’s hard to get in - so instead of working up, work across. You have networks and they do too so work with that.”
I think it’s safe to say that most of us left the discussion feeling optimistic, driven and in high spirits. This continued at the after event at LCC’s Darkroom Bar where KNKTU filled the venue with old school sounds merged with new school to set the scene. The outcome was truly a success as people networked throughout the night, partied and basked in the glory of the night. Video games were provided along with food and drinks and Proptar’s very own photo booth which allowed attendees to take snap shots of themselves having a great time whilst holding the Proptar banner. The night flew by and came to a joyful close and attendees continued to network even as the celebrations concluded which proved that the event was truly a success!
Words by Phalinda Wakadima
Also, keep your eyes peeled and ears open for more collaborations at UAL this year with Proptar. Follow Proptar on social media: