Thursday 8 March is International Women’s Day and now, more than ever, there's a strong call-to-action to press forward and progress gender parity. This week, we were thrilled to interview two UAL alumnae who have been doing their part by supporting young girls to develop their own sense of confidence.
When Rachita Saraogi and Rebecca Thomson graduated from CSM in 2015, they took a seedling of an idea they’d come up with in their studies, and turned it into Sisterhood – a social enterprise which sets out to turn girls self-doubt into self-confidence through creative workshops. Rachita and Rebecca shared how Sisterhood is helping make confidence contagious in today’s young women.
What is Sisterhood all about?
Our aim is to give girls equal opportunities to bring their voices and ideas forward, and create a culture and society in which girls can confidently thrive as individuals. To do this, we created Sisterhood, a social enterprise that raises awareness and develops a personal understanding of the positive impact that being a confident young girl can make on her future success. Through the Sisterhood School, we deliver creative programmes to young girls (aged 11-17), showing them how to use design as a creative tool to find solutions to issues such as body image, peer pressure, career aspirations, etc. We also run the Sisterhood Studio – a creative design agency which links closely with the ethos behind the Sisterhood School.
What inspired you to start Sisterhood?
It started as a collaborative branding project whilst at CSM where we realised that in a cohort of almost 200 mostly female students, not a lot of our peers were collaborating on projects. We wanted to start a conversation around how, as female creatives, we could develop awesome work together by supporting each other. We launched with a lecture at our degree show, with a panel of women from a variety of industries, from creative to education. Through this process, we found that the root of many of these issues for women stems from when they were younger. So we decided to use design as a tool to change the way girls interact with peers/friends and talk about themselves.
What are some of the challenges you've encountered?
Being a start-up and especially working within the education sector, one of the challenges has definitely been getting into schools, getting them to see that design allows students to implement their learning into the real world and understand that it is as crucial as their academic learning.
Funding is always a challenge as most funders want to invest in organisations that are low risk (which means they tend to invest in organisations that have been around for a while and already have a high impact). This has led us to set up Sisterhood Studio - we operate as a design studio and the work we do for brands & companies supports what we do at Sisterhood School. We’re definitely aiming for the organic growth approach.
What part did UAL play in your journey to starting up Sisterhood?
The support from our tutors was incredibly helpful when we first started this project, they gave us the space to experiment, fail and explore so many routes before we finally found something that was true to us and an issue that we felt we could use design to address.
Going forward, we’d love to work with UAL more closely and provide the participants of Sisterhood School programme more access to the creative industries whether this is through space (delivering our programme at UAL), live briefs, events etc.
What can we do, on a day to day basis to help girls find their confidence?
On a personal note, collaborate more with your female peers and support the next generation to do so as well.
What's next for you and Sisterhood?
Our priority is to gain funding and sponsorship for the next round of programmes, get in touch with creative organisations who would like to partner with us and keep working on building a body of work with Sisterhood Studio.
Where can we go to find out more about Sisterhood?
For general information: oursisterhood.co.uk
For updates on Sisterhood School: Instagram - @oursisterhood
For updates on events/general news: Twitter - @our_sisterhood