We were interviewed by Maisie Daniels for F Word Magazine.
INTERVIEW: FEMALE NARRATIVES
SUPPORT AND SISTERHOOD words Maisie Daniels - photography Sabrina Cichy
Formed out of a friendship, female freelancers Franzi Klein and Tijana Tamburic saw that it was time to shake things up in the creative field and craft a unique collective which is all about support, encouragement and inspiration for, let’s face it, what can sometimes be a tough industry for women. TitledFemale Narratives, it stands for women empowerment and with a tagline which states ‘In an age of freelancers and start-ups it’s time for a new way to create and collaborate’, it provides a platform for companies that are courageous in their collaboration approach, and fierce female freelancers who wish to be heard - my application is already in!
In support of International Women’s day, you can catch the girls at the W Hotel, (Leicester Square) where they will be producing their first (of many) panel discussions with What She Said. I got the chance to catch up with the ladies and find out a little more about the foundations, and future of this energetically empowering new enterprise.
Maisie Daniels: When was Female Narratives founded?
Franzi: We set it up FN in late October 2016, before Trump was elected, and had our proper launch party in February 2017. We had no idea what the year would bring for women’s activism all over the world.
M.D: Why start Female Narratives?
Tijana: We wanted to create a space where girls like us, freelance creatives, could represent themselves as they chose, have a space to share ideas, collaborate on projects, have a vehicle with which they can reach out to brands, and above all feel part of a support network; a community. We were the first two girls on the collective.
M.D: Can you talk through the ethos of Female Narratives?
Tijana: The concept seems so complicated for people as we are part collective, part creative agency, where everyone is freelance and we don’t have a permanent space. But it’s really simple: we think authenticity has been lost in advertising, brands are contriving more than ever and it’s crazy because there are so many amazing women doing so many amazing things that would love to be given a voice and an opportunity.
Franzi: Our ethos is to remain as authentic as possible and connect brands to real women doing real, tangible things and create beautiful narratives for them. We want girls to join our collective and proudly showcase their skills, talents and passions, whatever they may be.
M.D: What is the core message that you want Female Narratives to send to women working in the creative field?
Tijana: That we know it’s fucking hard but they need to keep hustling, and to lift the other women around them up and take them with them on their way to the top. There never needs to be just one woman that makes it, we all can. It’s not about competition but about congratulation. Life will be more fulfilling if we support each other; our success is their success and vice-versa.
M.D: What is the relationship between the two of you?
Tijana: We’re best friends - funnily enough, we were just friends, relatively new friends, when we started out on this journey, and rather than it tearing us apart it’s actually created a stronger friendship. Not to mention that we went to Burning Man together last year and are going again this year. Oh, and we spend so much time together that my dad thinks we are a couple.
Franzi: We basically met on a flight to Ibiza, became friends and 4 months later FN was born. We’re pretty much in conversation about work and life and anything really 24/7 and has somehow managed to not annoy each other yet. We grew really close and we’re both very straightforward with each other, as much as we’re best friends we can still have (productive) arguments and disagreements.
M.D: Franzi, can you give me three words to describe Tijana and vice versa?
Franzi: Smart, ambitious and most of all loyal. Tijana has a take on most things that I really look up to, she’s not afraid to ask for things and she is incredibly confident in everything she does. She is also the most amazing, honest and loyal friend anyone could ask for and I know she has my back, always and 100%.
Tijana: Open-hearted, warm-spirited and optimistic- a good balance to my pessimism. Franzi can always see the best in people and welcomes everyone with no judgement and open arms. She has such a pure and wonderful soul, totally untarnished despite anything she goes through, whereas all my bad life experiences are practically written across my forehead!
Tijana and Franzi by Sabrina Cichy for a Female Narratives project with AG Jeans
M.D: I see you are also both models, has this line of work helped you to form the Female Narratives platform and if so, how?
Tijana: I’ll be straight up, I used to hate modelling. I started when I was 15 and I just didn’t get it. There was so much about the industry that I had issues with and I was set to totally leave the fashion industry all together in late 2016, but I realized that I was never going to be able to create any change in the industry from the outside - it had to come from within. I felt it was my responsibility as someone who knew so much and experienced so much for over a decade and that always complained to actually offer a solution or at least a different way of doing things.
Now I see modelling totally differently. Every job I do is an opportunity to network, to speak to my fellow creatives in a deeper way and to learn from the brands I’m working with. It’s also offered me a very privileged platform from which I can promote FN and the work we do. I’ll never forget the genetic hand I was dealt and I won’t take it for granted, I’d like to hope that I used the opportunities handed to me to enact change and to bring other women with me.
Franzi: I couldn’t agree more. Without modelling, I would have never even ended up in London! All these years in the industry have given me access such a great network of creative, inspiring people all over the world - and without that FN wouldn’t be around today. Also having been on hundreds of productions over the years has given me a great insight into the industry. Always keep your eyes and ears open, there are always opportunities to learn something new!
M.D: What is the selection process for becoming a part of the collective?
Franzi: The process has always been to find like-minded creative women, up-and-coming in their fields that have a real passion for their craft, a love for collaboration and that want to be a part of something bigger that isn’t a management agency for them, but a collective. We want to find girls that are as excited about being a proactive part of our sisterhood as we are.
M.D: Do you have a set demographic? Or can women of all ages apply?
Tijana: We don’t have a demographic, but as we are a start-up we are trying to really find up-and-coming creatives or grass-roots projects that can grow with us also and that has invariably led to women of a similar age group to us- the millennial 18-35. However, they are from all over the world and have all different backgrounds and experiences, and that’s what makes us coming together so special.
M.D: What is the biggest challenge(s) that you have come across being a female in the creative industry?
Tijana: I don’t think we have had that many. I mean there are times when we show up on set and there are 25 of us and 1 guy and HE feels intimidated! Each and every one of us has unbelievable stories about harassment and unpaid jobs and worse, but when we come together we are much stronger and not easily messed around with. It’s a shame that only when we are a force, or marching in our thousands that we are taken seriously.
Franzi: We have struggles like most start-ups do, I think that has definitely been exaggerated by the fact that we are young and female and models - we’ve had moments when we haven’t been taken seriously, or people have sort of made jokes but overwhelmingly the response had been positive. I think overall we had to fight a little bit more to be taken seriously and to make a point that we’ll stick around and that FN wasn’t just a short-term thing by two bored models.
M.D: Best bit of advice you can give to women aspiring to work in the creative industry?
Tijana: Find your niche, find your point of difference, and work really hard to be the best at it. I used to think it was great to be the jack of all trades but in the creative industry being master of one can mean you can charge a lot more for it. Even if it’s graphic design, pick a style or a certain path and craft, craft, craft. Experience is everything, so build a beautiful portfolio - it will mean more than your university degree.
Franzi: Don’t be afraid to ask for help or find a mentor. Utilize other people’s experience - you’d be surprised at how many people are happy to help! If you’re super fresh to the industry get work experience, shadow people, tag along on their work days and watch. Network as much as you can. Relationships are incredibly important.
M.D: Can you tell me about any projects we should look out for?
Franzi: We have just started our first in a series of panel discussion events at the W Hotel in Leicester Square as part of their What She Said global initiative. We will be hosting them bi-monthly and covering all sorts of topics, so come down! Our first one is on International Women’s day and in support of the charity mothers2mothers.
M.D: How do you see Female Narratives progressing?
Tijana: I hope we get louder and more visible, I hope the stories we tell can take on many different forms and mediums.
Franzi: No matter what we will always keep our creative integrity and we will also continue to work with like-minded new brands that we believe in and sustainable brands we want to support.
M.D: How can I apply?
Franzi: We don’t have a formal application system - any girls interested in joining can just drop us an email and chat to us and we take it from there!
Tijana: Yas Kween! Your profile is already set up, just tell me, women, you most admire and why?
M.D: And lastly, what is your favorite F-word?
Franzi: Female (Narratives), or Fries.
Tijana: Female, obviously!