The Experience of Being A Minority in a Creative Industry
Do you truly want to know what it’s like to be a minority in design from a black woman’s point of view?
I recently reflected on my career journey, and the time I spent in this industry, especially as a minority. I am Cassie Rachel, and four years ago I founded VOQUS Digital.
It wasn’t always this (what I thought was) glamorous. In fact, there were many times when it felt like I was constantly swimming against the current. On the journey to creating what I have today, I’ve learned a thing or two about the experience of being a minority in a creative industry.
“Black women fill less than 4% of creative roles in the US” [CREATIVE/ART DIRECTOR DEMOGRAPHICS AND STATISTICS IN THE US, Zippia]
I am a black woman in a traditionally white male dominated industry, who is actively working to change that. We begin our life’s journey with many goals and dreams. As we get older, we tend to question these goals. Especially when they don’t seem to come into fruition.
I’ve always had a love for creative industries. There’s something about having the freedom to express myself that makes me feel empty and incomplete when I’m unable to do so. In fact, this is exactly why I use my creativity to help others bring their vision into existence.
The experience of being a minority in a creative industry can be incredibly challenging.
I spent years working in traditional corporate jobs and was constantly told to focus more on remaining an employee than my “business”. People frowned upon that I, a 30-something woman, had defied tradition and started a business in the creative space. And even then, others saw it as a side hustle. Making inexpensive logos so that I could make enough money and build my portfolio. Negotiating prices for my time as a website designer. It was exhausting.
Since 2017, I have been using my experience of being a minority in a creative industry as both a tool to inspire and motivate my team and identify how we can better serve our future clients.
Being a black professional creative is not an ‘either or’ scenario.
Being black doesn’t conflict with being creative, yet black creatives often face higher levels of racism. In one study from 2016, African Americans who worked full-time jobs had to work 12 months longer to earn what their white counterpart earned after 1 year (from The Atlantic)! From this data alone, it’s easy to see why creating a space where Black creatives can network, collaborate and share their passions is so necessary.
As a woman in the creative technology industry myself, I can’t help but feel a certain solidarity with black women. We frequently find in a world created by men for men—where women typically are seen as uninvited outsiders.
At VOQUS Digital, I consider diversity in skill set and perspective an asset — not a deficit — and we respect all of our employees for their contributions to the collective whole.
I plan to redefine what it means to be a woman in this industry and clarify that we’re all one community, united by a shared passion for creativity.
I will never forget being a minority in the creative industry.
As a black woman creative, I know that there is still much work to be done. I want to be an inspiration for all women and non-binary people who want to pursue a career in design and development, but may feel held back by their identity or cultural background.
But here’s the thing: when you’re a minority and a woman in this industry, you don’t have that luxury of time. You have to hustle smarter and faster just to get by. If you don’t, no one else will do it for you,
It’s not just that you have to deal with the everyday sexism that plagues the workplace.
It’s that you have to deal with being told by people who should be your allies that your talent isn’t good enough because you don’t conform to the norms of what they think a designer should be. You should be able to count on people to be there to help you, not to dictate to you and dictate how you live.
The good news is: there are tons of allies out there who will support your work, encourage you to take risks and believe in yourself 100%.
As a studio that has always prided itself on being inclusive, I have seen firsthand how companies thrive in this new world of technology and innovation. Furthermore, companies have failed to change their cultures and practices as a result of societal changes.
I believe that diversity is not just about having different people working together—it’s about creating an environment where everyone can feel comfortable bringing their entire selves to work each day.
VOQUS always had a ‘female-led’ motto
In fact, this is one reason so many of my incredible clients choose to work with me. My goal is not to only become one of the most recognized female-led studios in the US, but to become a voice, an inspiration, and motivator for women just like me.
I know that there are so many people out there who feel like they don’t have a voice or place within their industry. Whether it’s because their accent makes them feel unintelligent or because their skin color makes them feel unwelcome.
VOQUS wants everyone to know that no matter where you come from or what language you speak. If you have something interesting to say, then we want to hear it! If your story can help others learn something new about themselves, then sharing your experiences is invaluable!
Contact us today or email us at findus@voqusdigital to learn more about how you can get involved and make a difference for BIPOC creatives.