WORK HARD. PLAY HARD: Swakara Atwell-Bennett.

Kara-2These are a few interview style questions that we put to Swakara about her battle with work-life balance as she slogs it about in the city with her creative group Better Shared. (Which we’re hosting a screening of their new series tomorrow at WeWork Spitalfields! RSVP/ Get tickets HERE

Start-up projects and entrepreneurship are a big talking point right now with a move away from faceless corporate jobs towards the dream of ‘making your stamp on your industry’. But what is it really like for a young adult trying to make their way in an ever-condensing market of brands and influencers? Read Swakara’s answers to find out.

What is your role now and what are the main responsibilities for you?

I am the Founder and Creative Director of a platform for creatives of African / Caribbean descent. I also Freelance as a Designer / Art Director under Swakara Ltd.

My role mainly involves a lot of researching, I am always on the lookout for new creatives and general inspiration – It’s something I can’t switch off, you can spot something or someone anywhere. Most of my time is spent planning, editing and curating content for our interview features, social media and any events or campaigns we have scheduled. I have become a bit of a list addict which helps me keep on top of everything and alongside my marketing assistant, we plan our social a month in advance. The favourite part of my role, however, has to be interviewing, whether that is in person or over Skype / Google Hangouts. As a Freelance Designer, I work on a mixture of projects from UI design to branding and occasionally motion graphics and print.

How long have you been doing this for and what did you do before?

It will be two years this August, prior to this I worked full-time as a Graphic Designer at a branding agency in Shoreditch. I loved my job, but working within the creative industry also allowed me to witness the lack of diversity and lack of representation. The average graphic designer is still a white middle aged male so a black female Graphic Designer in the UK I am something of a rarity.

Can you think of any key challenges you had to overcome and how did you battle them to get to where you are?

I would say I am still battling them as there are new challenges every day, BetterShared exists to inspire, promote and connect people so the business element is something that has only recently manifested. Asking people for help was something I wasn’t so keen on at the beginning but it has been crucial – especially if you are launching something on your own. It’s not a bad thing if you can’t do it all or you need help once in awhile, without the help of my team who jumped onto BetterShared from the idea phase – it would have stayed as just that, an idea.

Another example was our birthday event, we underestimated the scale and it ended up going way over budget. We were trying to fit too many things into one event until we realised that sometimes less is more, on the day we scaled it back and the event was a success, the people, the music, and vibes were magical. Although I’m a lover of lists, at times you need to be able to think on your feet.

What is the dream, or where would you like to see yourself in five or ten years?

The dream would be to be one of if not the largest creative network in the world, somewhere that creatives know they can connect to one another and find future icons.

Personally, I would love to be balancing a business and motherhood as I would hope to have at least one or two lil’ ones by then.

How do you find balancing lifestyle and downtime with your job?

Most of the time even when I am supposed to be ‘taking time out’ I am thinking about BetterShared, since I have started I have found it hard to switch off from it completely. I do make the effort, however, to ensure I still see my friends and family and turn my notifications off when I’m relaxing, especially on holiday. It’s hard, but I think it’s necessary to give your mind a rest or at least find time to take up a hobby, it’s not always easy I do find weeks or months when downtime feels non-existent but then I will give myself a few days of chill after a hectic period. I’m definitely making more of an effort this year to focus on my well-being.

If you could give one piece of advice to a young spark looking to start their business, what would that be?

Don’t be afraid to just try things, the hardest part (as cheesy as it sounds) is just starting. I posted a launch date on Insta before we had even edited our first piece of video content. It was scary and looking back I may have done things differently but it forced me to make an idea a reality. Also, stick to it, a lot of people expect overnight success and it generally takes a lot longer than you’d expect. If you’re looking for an easy ride you’re probably in the wrong profession, it’s a brilliant feeling to know something you have imagined or dreamt of is finally happening but you have to be prepared to work your ass off to get it there.

What has been your favourite event you have attended this month? If not month, this year?

Bloom The Film launch last year was brilliant, I loved the accompanying exhibition which featured female artists from across the globe who created pieces in response to the coming-of-age film. The film itself is moving and the work was beautiful, they also included little details such as the bike from the film and flowers were scattered across the exhibition. Huge s/o to Jesse Gassongo-Alexander, the Writer, Director and Curator of the film and exhibition. Also Screened Nights – a summer screening of shorts by up and coming Directors. They had summer and winter events, it such a good concept can’t wait for their 2017 edition!

And finally, what do you think is the best part about being an upcoming, self-employed business owner right now?

The best part for me is knowing that I am working on something I’ve built that I’m truly passionate about – you spend over half of your life working so it may as well be on something you enjoy. Also in the age of social, it’s much easier to reach an audience and connect with people whether that’s for advice, partnerships or even testing ideas.

Thank you so much for talking to us and telling us about your experiences! We can’t wait for the screening! 

Make sure to check out Better Shared’s website here and follow them on Twitter.

And RSVP for the screening here!

Do you have any tips or advice on how to overcome challenges in the working world? Let us know by talking to us on Twitter!

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