how to be a working woman in the creative industries by phoebe lovatt
We speak to the founder of The WW Club, a space for working women worldwide to meet, collaborate, learn and hang out.
Working as a freelance travel, culture and lifestyle journalist, as well as a consultant for various brands, Phoebe Lovatt has learnt a thing or two about working as a woman in the creative industries. After years of whining about missing her London-based girl gang, including WAH Nails' Sharmadean Reid and Mushpit's Char Roberts, and a real lack of woman-friendly working environments in LA where she's lived since 2012, Phoebe finally decided to do something about it. Introducing The WW Club or The Working Women's Club, named after The Working Men's Clubs of old, a physical and virtual space for working-women worldwide to meet, collaborate, learn and just generally hang out, which Phoebe set up in January 2015. To coincide with the launch of the four-day pop-up and series of curated, career-focused events, Phoebe has just realesed her first book: The Handbook For Women Who Do Creative Work, which offers concise and relatable advice for women working in creative industries. Here we talk to Phoebe about work, women, and the story behind The Working Women's Club.
What is the The WW Club?
The WW (or Working Women's) Club is a physical and virtual space for working women worldwide, which I founded in January 2015. I just launched the Club with a four-day pop-up work and event space in the Eastern Columbia Building in downtown Los Angeles. There was free wifi, coffee and work space available all day, plus career-focused events and talks. I pulled the whole thing together by myself with very little money or time, but the response was incredible and I met so many amazing women from across LA. I'm pretty happy right now!
What's the story behind its name?
The name is a tongue-in-cheek nod to the working men's clubs that were once prevalent across the UK, they still exist, but in much reduced numbers. Those spaces were founded in the late 1800s to give working class men a place for education and recreation, and The WW Club is founded in the same spirit - it's a space for women to meet, network, learn, but also to just have a laugh!
How did the idea come about?
The idea was originally inspired by my London crew; a group of really creative, cool, successful women who have always had my back. When I moved to LA in 2012, I made loads of amazing female friends, but still felt isolated when it came to my work as a freelance journalist. LA is a huge city and it can be very hard to feel part of a community here, which in turn had a negative impact on my motivation levels. After two years of whining about the problem, I decided to do something about it - and so The WW Club was born!
Why do we need a Working Women's Club and what do you hope to achieve with it?
I think community is an essential part of human happiness and progress, and clubs are a great way to engender that sense of support - especially at a time when technology increasingly limits real life interactions. The world of work is changing, women are finally earning recognition and ascending into positions of power, and it's important that they have the best possible foundation to benefit from that shift. In my own small way, I hope I can help them to feel confident and equipped to take on the change.
How important is it for you personally to work with other women?
Immensely important. With this project, I worked with as many women as possible - from the book's designer, Stephany Pollard, to Dana Boulos, the photographer who took my press shots, to Adi Goodrich - the amazing art director behind the space.
The Club itself doubled as a showroom for work by LA's most talented creative women; and has featured sculpture by Karolina Maszkiewicz, work by floral artist Gemma Hayden Blest, books and zines by Nouvella Books and Dominica Publishing, as well as breakfast provided by Jessica Koslow of award-winning L.A. bakery, Sqirl.
What can a woman bring to the table that a guy can't?
Depends on the woman, depends on the man! But generally, I think women are much more empathetic in both personal and professional spheres. And empathy is an incredibly important trait when it comes to achieving career success.
Is the WWC boy friendly?
Well the club is specifically created for women, but I'm certainly no man-hater and I'd never want to propagate an 'anti-man' agenda. Most men are awesome! Especially the ones who worked on this project, like my graphic designer Rory Rockmore, videographer Dom Ferris, and Eric Johnson and Brendan Ravenhill, whose lighting work illuminated the space. To clarify: The WW Club is not about women standing up against men - it's about women standing with their fellow women.
Do you consider yourself a feminist?
Absolutely. I was born a woman, I love being a woman... To reject the notion that women are equal to men strikes me as insane!
Should being a woman affect the way you work?
I think it would be disingenuous to insist that men and women work in the exact same way. Of course, women are physically, culturally, and socially conditioned to approach work in a different way to men. The important thing is for us to embrace our natural strengths and resist pressure to adopt the less positive masculine tendencies that still prevail in the workplace, just to make our presence felt.
Where did you get the idea for your Handbook?
The Handbook was an idea born out of my desire to make a physical object first and foremost; as a journalist who writes a lot for online, so much of my work feels ephemeral. The Handbook For Women Who Do Creative Work tackles essentials from building the perfect workspace via generating ideas to making and managing money. I've got lots of idea for future titles up my sleeve, but for the first one I figured: start with what you know! I've been a freelance creative professional since I graduated from university nearly five years ago, so I've picked up a few tips along the way. It also features inspirational and insightful interviews with a host of successful creative women — including WAH Nails founder Sharmadean Reid, journalist Ann Friedman, Cosmopolitan UK editor Louise Court, Neneh Cherry, MP Nails, and many more
What's the best piece of advice you've ever been given?
Just do it.
What's so great about being a girl right now?
We don't run the world quite yet - but we're about to.
Text Tish Weinstock
Photography Zev Schmitz