Ravensbourne students leading charge to diversify the creative industry

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Article by: David Millett

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Ravensbourne BA (Hons) Advertising and Brand Design students have teamed up with the brand agency JDO in a project that proudly celebrates the work of black creatives and aims to break down barriers in the industry.

Two of our second-year students, Fiona Quadri and Almasi Samuels, took part in a series of virtual workshops to help develop an innovative new beauty product for ‘The Curly Connect’, a natural beauty brand designed for curly hair.

JDO is a design and branding company that helps their clients with 3D product design, brand identity, design for manufacturers and creative strategy. It works with a host of household-name brands, including Carlsberg, Tresemmé, Dove and Peroni.

Fiona and Almasi worked with the agency to creatively develop a product for ‘The Curly Connect’ upcoming relaunch, from designing concepts for the product’s packaging, creating illustrations for the brand, writing copy and working to ensure that the brand would stand out and resonate with its intended audience.

Image of Fiona Quadri

The project was made possible thanks to our close ties with industry and our vast network of successful alumni. JDO Account Executive Maureen Vasquez, a Ravensbourne alumna, reached out to establish the collaboration. It forms part of JDO’s ‘Championing Diversity’ initiative, its commitment to improve diversity within its ranks, while helping to create a more diverse future for the wider creative industry.

‘The Curly Connect’ is a start-up founded by Kemi Adeeko, who is also a Ravensbourne alumna. In a video announcing the collaboration, she said how important inclusion was to the brand, both on-camera in terms of its model choices, but also behind the scenes in its creative team.

Reflecting on her work on the project, Fiona said: “I believe change is needed within the system, tackled from the root rather than just the surface. As a black female creator, I am determined to be part of this change. I am happy that JDO has such a diverse working environment and that the lack of diversity within the industry is being addressed proactively.”

Almasi said: “Black creatives must be represented in the industry and the simple solution is that we should make it happen. This change doesn’t start with black creatives as we have been carving our paths regardless of the barriers. I believe creative agencies and the industry have a duty to cultivate genuine collaboration and connections with a diverse range of individuals. It should not be about good PR. It should be about bringing amazing creatives from different backgrounds together to create wonderful things.”

Image of Almasi Samuels

Derek Yates, course leader for our Advertising and Brand Design course, said: “This is a fantastic example of how higher education institutions can be the catalyst to initiate networks that can initiate exciting opportunities for their students. JDO, two alumni from Advertising and Brand Design and two students have worked together to create something that has a benefit for all.”

Boma Krijgman, Brand Ambassador at JDO, said: “This workshop was not only about championing black talent in the next generation of designers, but also about bringing different voices and points of view into the design process to create brand experiences that truly reflect and appeal to diverse audiences.”