GRINtroducing: Ladies Wine & Design Birmingham
Co-hosts of the Birmingham chapter of Ladies Wine & Design, Lisa Barrett and Lindsay Baker join us for a chat.
1) Hi Lisa and Lindsay! Thanks for taking part in our GRINtroducing series. For those who don’t know about Ladies Wine and Design, can you tell us more about it? How did you get involved and end up heading the Birmingham chapter?
You’re welcome. Thanks for inviting us.
Ladies, Wine & Design is a global non-profit initiative with chapters in 280 cities worldwide; founded by designer Jessica Walsh in New York back in 2015.
We offer free mentorship circles, portfolio reviews, talks, exhibitions, workshops & creative meetups for underrepresented creatives.
The design industry as a whole is heavily weighted towards men, with a huge majority of white men holding leadership roles and creative teams more often than not being majority male. Alongside this imbalance in teams, there are huge pay gaps, and sadly many experiences of sexual mis-conduct and gender bias.
LWD really aims to challenge this, and to bring female and non-binary talent to the forefront to be celebrated and valued just as much as our male counter-parts with the hope that our industry becomes more diverse, with more equal representation and opportunities.
Lindsay and I actually met for the first time about 6 years ago at a Ladies, Wine & Design Birmingham meet up. Originally it was hosted by two other creatives (Kerry Leslie and Charlotte Audrey) and when they decided to step down due to other commitments Linds and I took it on, and have since been running events for the last four years.
We do this completely voluntarily, and our events are usually made possible by the goodwill of our community, and support from Birmingham Design. So we try to keep everything free or as accessible as possible.
2) LWD Birmingham is known for bringing women in design together through the events you run across Birmingham. How did you find running these during the pandemic? And are there any events coming up that we can keep an eye out for?
To be honest, it took a few months for us to take stock of what was happening, I think everyone was in survival mode really. But, in late summer 2020 we took some of our events online. And it’s been really great. It’s enabled more people to join us from as far away as Atlanta and Jakarta, and also allowed people who couldn’t ordinarily get into Birmingham to be part of our events join us from the comfort of their sofas.
We’re hoping to get back on track with some events soon and hope the rest of 2022 will see more in the calendar.
3) How can people support Ladies Wine and Design or get involved in it, whether they’re in Birmingham or elsewhere?
If you’re local to Brum and live/work or study in the West Midlands, please give our social accounts a follow and we’d absolutely love to welcome you along to one of our events.
If you hear about opportunities which would be relevant to our network do let us know as we would be happy to post about them on our socials – this might include creative commissions, vacancies within the design and creative sector or events taking place in the region.
And if you’re elsewhere check out your local chapter, LWD is present in hundreds of cities worldwide and there are some amazing instagram accounts to discover.
4) Women, non-binary people and BIPOC make up a small percentage of the design workforce, particularly in positions of leadership. How can we, as a design community, change the numbers and make a difference?
Sadly there is a huge way still to go in terms of societal change to really see a radical change in representation across all industries and no one thing will fix it.
However we can all do our bit. It starts from the beginning really in education, and making sure young people see and hear from role models/mentors, so that they themselves may choose a creative career path. Therefore we need to celebrate the work of creatives from these groups to help inspire the next generation.
The people responsible for hiring in the industry also need to take responsibility for building more diverse and welcoming teams. We’re not saying that people should be hired because they fit a diversity quota, but instead, working hard to not just hire the same people over and over again and removing conscious or unconscious bias within the hiring process.
You can see the most exciting work in the design industry is coming from teams who have a mix of genders and cultures within the team and that’s something we should all be aiming for.
“You can see the most exciting work in the design industry is coming from teams who have a mix of genders and cultures within the team and that’s something we should all be aiming for.”
5) We love seeing you shine a spotlight on Brummie women in design. How do you find creatives to share on your platform?
Ah we love it too, that’s really been our favourite part of running LWD, discovering all these hugely talented women! We usually discover creatives via instagram or from events and exhibitions, but we also welcome nominations, so nominate someone else or yourself, just drop us a message on Instagram or twitter if you would like to be featured.
6) What is your best piece of advice for women and non-binary people working in design or aspiring to work in design?
Kindness, to yourself and others at all times.
The industry is really small, so word gets around who the nasty folk are, treat other people on your way up through your career well, work really hard, lift others around you up and you will prosper.
As well as heading up LWD Birmingham, you’re also both creatives yourselves! What kind of things do you enjoy working on and do you have a piece of work that you’re particularly proud of?
We are, we both work as freelance graphic designers and actually share a studio in the Jewellery Quarter.
Work that really makes a difference is always the most rewarding, so projects for charities or organisations that exist to help people are usually our favourite. We recently worked together on a great project with the charity Smart Works, who exist to give women the confidence they need to reach their full potential, secure employment and change the trajectory of their lives. Helping to design a digital fundraising campaign for them at a time when a lot of charities saw their donations completely drop off due to Covid was a really great opportunity and a project that meant a lot to us and the charity.
8) Do you have a designer/illustrator/filmmaker/creative that you’re currently obsessing over and why?
Lisa – Yes I’ve chosen local Illustrator Abbie Reilly, I really love Abbie’s work, and think she’s got an incredibly bright future ahead.
Lindsay – I’ve been following visual artist and photographer Jaskirt Boora for a while and I absolutely love her thoughtful work capturing and celebrating the untold stories of real life people from the West Midlands.
“Lift others around you up and you will prosper.”
9) What is your favourite thing about Birmingham and being part of its creative scene?
We love that Birmingham is so down-to-earth, it’s a truly welcoming and non-pretentious city. Our creative community is full of love and such an inspiring community to be part of, if you’re not already we encourage you to get involved and be part of Birmingham Design.
10) Plan B – If you weren’t working in Design, what job could you see yourself working in?
Lisa – I’d always loved the idea of being a florist, but the early mornings definitely made me think twice!
Lindsay – My other passion was always languages (I loved studying Russian and Spanish for A level) so I think if I had taken that career path I would have liked to work with a charity or social enterprise abroad.