Women Who Are Shaping the World
In 2008 my friend Dyonne and I ventured off on a trip to New York to attend the 1st Annual Essence Magazine "Women Who Are Shaping the World" leadership summit. I remember being really prayerful in the days leading up the conference. In a way, I wanted to use the conference as a gauge to see what women were accomplishing in their respective fields and for that matter, their lives. I'd been designing for 6 years at that time, but spent most days alone or in the office with the guy who ran an audio video business. I guess you could say, I was starved for some female camaraderie. As you can imagine, the conference was an amazing success. The speakers included top female executives from companies like Verizon and Morgan Stanley, poured out from their souls tons of valuable tips that I still use in my everyday life. One charge was repeated by nearly every person who took the stage and it was stated as the need for us to give freely of ourselves and to help each other out along the way.
I'm writing this post to testify as to why we have to do just that. As you know, in May of this year I hosted a celebration of African American designers at Jay-z's 40/40 club in Manhattan. It was an amazing affair which was significant in many ways. For starters, it was the first time anyone had assembled the top African American Designers for a celebration of that kind. In addition, the event was packed with great design bloggers, members of the press, celebrity clients out to support their favorite designers, and plain old design fans who got to share their love of design with each other.
As incredible as the event was, there was a lot of stress involved in taking on such a feat. When I returned to Atlanta, I decided to take some time off and think about ways to expand on the event for 2013. On one of the days when I was reviewing the budget (don't ask) and thinking about how to make the event better for the designers the next time, I received a heart-filled letter from Marian Akinloye's mother. The letter touched me in ways only a letter from a mother could. She was so proud of her baby girl!
It's sometimes easy to underestimate the impact your thoughts and ideas can have on other people's lives. And when things get difficult, you might even want to give up. However, you have to remember that sometimes it's not about you. Sometimes, you are placed in a position to help someone else to shine. In those moments, all the stress and headaches seem worth it. I know that being named to our Top 20 list probably didn't mean that much to an already established design super star whose name you see in your favorite shelter magazine. So for designers in that particular position, I get it. But for Marian Akinolye who had spent years designing in the shadow of Jamie Drake, and her mother, it meant the world.