A husky sledder, a tour guide and a carpenter may not seem to have much in common at first sight – but once you get to know Luisa Wells and how inspiring her leadership is, you can sort of see why she sees herself in any of the three.
Clearly an explorer, a curious leader and a master of creativity, Louisa leads an internal creative team at Friends of the Earth, working to make this planet a better place on a daily basis. Like many of us, Luisa had to deal with her own dose of imposter syndrome; like most of us, her confidence grew as she realised how capable and skilled she truly was as both a leader and a creative professional.
A dreamer and a pioneer of change, today we are Getting to Know the Head of Content & Creative at Friends of the Earth, with inspiring insights and hopes for the future of the world and the creative industry.
Tell us a bit about your role! What is one typical day like?
Being an internal creative team we work across all of Friends of the Earth’s work. That includes our ongoing political campaigns, engaging the public with the issues we work on, fundraising and supporting our network of grassroots groups. So there’s always quite a few balls in the air! A typical day is a mix of meetings about any number of upcoming projects and campaigns in which I’ll feed in on our creative execution and content planning to get the right audience journeys. I’ll normally have a decent chunk of time spent talking to my team and feeding back on the projects they’re working on, making sure we’re looking and sounding right to the world. And then trying to make time to work on some of our bigger picture creative concepts and strategies.
What was the biggest challenge in getting to your current position?
I think the biggest challenge honestly has been confidence. I definitely started out in my career with a healthy dose of imposter syndrome. On reflection I think there are opportunities I missed when I was working my way up on agency side because of that. It took me a while to learn to trust myself and my instincts.
What is your biggest career-related win? What is your biggest loss?
I sort of see the very fact I get to do the work I do as my biggest win. There’s been various highs along the way and things I’d like to do more of in the future. But on reflection I get paid to be creative and campaign for things I care about (and answer a lot of emails) and I think overall I count that as a win.
I don’t know what my biggest loss would be, I think I miss the creative relationships you leave behind as your career moves the most though.
What’s your secret to remain inspired and motivated?
Celebrating what other people are doing and trying to be more excited about their genius than jealous. A hard task sometimes and I don’t always avoid the pang of envy, but I genuinely enjoy seeing the amazing work coming out of all areas of the creative industries, it’s a fuel that keeps me excited for possibilities of what we can do at Friends of the Earth and I try and share that excitement with my team as much as possible.
Which individuals and/or agencies do you gain inspiration from? Do you have any heroes in the industry?
Honestly? Every zoomer on TikTok, I’m obviously not alone in that addiction, but there is some really exciting creativity on there and I find it genuinely inspirational. In terms of agencies I pretty consistently love Uncommon’s work.
How has COVID-19 affected you?
I’m incredibly lucky to have been relatively unscathed professionally by Covid. A small amount of furlough and the dramatic shift to running a creative team remotely aside. And
we had a really exciting interactive installation that got cancelled due to Covid last spring that haunts me slightly! It will definitely change how we work in the future, and keeping a sense of teamwork and collaboration across creative work remotely is hard but we’ve been lucky.
What is your biggest hope for 2021?
Honestly, to leave the 3 mile area around my flat and hug my girlfriend again.
Professionally speaking, we’re developing some new creative approaches and projects that I’m excited to see come to life this year, so I guess the biggest hope is that they do well and we can engage more people with solving the climate crisis in a tangible way.
What is your one piece of advice to aspiring creative professionals?
Don’t be afraid of stress testing your ideas and getting feedback, tough questions are helpful.
How do you recharge away from the office?
In more normal times I see friends to do a lot of walking, karaoke and poker nights. Nowadays I have too many conversations with my dog, play a lot of video games and am learning how to rollerskate.
If you weren’t in your current industry, what would you be doing?
I like to think I’d be a husky sledder, a tour guide or a carpenter.
What’s your one big dream for the future of the industry?
That we truly change the industry culture that means we are so dominated by white middleclass voices (myself included). One part of this I’d like to see a real change in is the expectations we put on young people starting out in creative industries to work for free and ‘earn their stripes’. It is a practice which limits who can take opportunities and build their networks and as well as being an issue of inequality it means we as an industry are really missing out on a huge wealth of experiences, voices and ideas that would benefit us all and our work.
Do you have any websites, books or resources you would recommend?
I use This Is Colossal, Behance and It’s Nice That a lot (who doesn’t!) also a fan of the Niice search engine (Niice.co/search) for seeing a variety of creative responses to various topics and prompts. I would also shout out the charity Arts Emergency who do a lot of work to make the creative industries more accessible.