In an attempt to showcase the personalities of the people behind the media and marketing sector, The Drum speaks to individuals who are bringing something a little different to the industry and talks to them about what insights and life experience they can offer the rest of us. This week's 10 Questions are put to Jessica Walsh, founder of the new design studio &Walsh.
What was your first-ever job?
When I was 11, I created an HTML help site that generated revenue from Google ads.
Which industry buzzword annoys you most?
Is buzzword a buzzword? That word is annoying too.
Who do you find most interesting to follow on social media?
So many amazing people to follow! This is by no means a comprehensive list of the people that inspire me on Instagram, but here are a few: Ava, Amani, Rachel Cargle, Adam JK, Wednesday, Timothy Goodman, Kate Moross, Eli Rezkallah, Jen Winston, Hasan Minhaj, Mari Andrew, Shantell Martin, Shyama Golden, Jade Purple Brown
What is the highlight of your career (so far?)
While I'm proud of my work, my biggest highlight has been starting my agency, &Walsh. Since I was very young, it was always my dream to have a studio that was entirely my own. Even when I was in my teens I created a website to teach other designers how to code and design their own websites. Being able to pass down my knowledge was something I always strived to do on a larger scale one day. I am determined to make &Walsh not only known for producing top-quality creative and strategy work for top clients but a catalyst for social projects and initiatives that can give back to the world.
What piece of tech can you not live without?
I have to work with a Wacom tablet, it increases my productivity significantly.
Who or what did you have posters of on your bedroom wall as a teenager?
Bruce Willis in Die Hard…
In marketing and design, what needs to change soon?
The numbers say it all: 70% of design students are women, but when you look at the top, the numbers are shockingly small: only 5% of CEOs are women.
Approximately 11% of creative director positions are held by women. Only .1% of creative agencies are women-owned - 1%! How does this make any sense when women drive about 80% of consumer purchasing? Diversity in leadership at agencies drives profit.
The lack of representation at the top was my inspiration for starting our non-profit initiative Ladies, Wine & Design. We offer free mentorship circles, talks, and networking events in over 250 cities worldwide. We have events on topics such as Creative Leadership, Design & Business, Diversity in Design, and more. These social initiatives will be a driving force of &Walsh. I also want to implement these principles within our studio. I’m excited to build an agency that provides equal opportunity for all to learn and grow creatively and climb the ranks towards leadership.
What is (in your opinion) the greatest film/album/book of your life?
The iconic French children’s book The Little Prince— its message to adults, to not lose their child-like mind is something that has always stuck with me in my work. Adults are prone to fixating on the practical, which is an obstacle in exploring the beauty and one's imagination from different perspectives. When we grow up we learn what is right and wrong, and that makes life realities less playful, void of the possibilities we once knew. Because we become so grounded in the end result that things become black and white. Exploration and imagination are forgotten.
Which industry event can you not afford to miss each year and why?
I am asked to speak at conferences often, so I try to go to new ones each year!
What's the best piece of advice you have ever been given?
Fake it till you make it. How I interpreted this early on in my career is that if someone asked me to do something I didn’t know how to do, and I wanted to do it, I’d just say yes and then figure it out later. It’s really not that difficult to accomplish any task if you use common sense, persistence, and know-how to be resourceful. This is now my #1 piece of advice that I give others when just starting out. Google things, read up, research, create your own opportunities.
More entries in the 10 Questions With... series can be found here.