Ones-to-watch

Ones To Watch: Ayeshah Rose

Everybody is on the hunt for young up-and-comers and, here at SHESAID, we have been lucky enough to meet a few of them. These ladies are on the road to success and generating waves within their chosen field. Whether they be creatives, sporting talent, founders of start-ups or someone striving to make are difference, these young women are definitely ‘Ones to Watch’.

RELATED: Ones To Watch: Ashlee Harrison

Tell us a bit about you. Where are you from? What do you do?

My name is Ayeshah Rose and I am born of Eurasian origin and grew up surrounded with acres of green and endless amounts of imagination. When I was younger I found an escape from being a mixed raced girl in a rural area in my love of animals, which gave me a sense of freedom.  This was the perfect recipe to be moulded into a storyteller. But it was almost as though one path was not quite enough to pursue a life of no limits. As a tomboy, I joined the Naval Reserve Cadets as a teenager and found the focus and discipline I needed to hurtle a career in the arts. I’m now also a model with WINK Models.

You have recently completed the Kokoda Trail – is this something you have always wanted to do?

I genuinely have an addiction to the outdoors; I love to test my own limits. This was something I knew would test my physical and mental spaces. I will admit I had very little knowledge of the significance of the trail and the detailed stories of the heroes that gave us the freedom we enjoy today. I think many young Australians are uneducated on this part of our history and this trek was a way to be identified as an Australian.

Ones To Watch, Inspirational Women, Kokoda, journey, mentor, charity, life advice

Your journey along with your groups was filmed and made into a documentary, Life Challenge – Kokoda. How did you find out about this project?

My good friend James the founder of Life Challenge suggested I do this. We both had battled personal and physical issues with health before and decided to test ourselves and risk everything for this project.

 Ayeshah model

As a model, did you feel like people underestimated your inner strength to complete the journey?

Definitely. I was laughing with the camera guys on the final days because they all had bet with each other that I’d be the first to crumble and I’m sure even some of my close friends may have questioned my endurance for this adventure.

What were the most challenging moments for you on your journey, both physically and mentally? How did you resolve these?

The moments I went down on day 7 with dehydration. It really took me by surprise because I did drink almost 3 litres of water that day already. Going in and out and forgetting where I was and seeing cameras really shook me. Time and rest was the only way out, but the words of Charlie Lynn in my ear was the real awakening and those words of support and hope really rearranged my thoughts and enabled my wheel power.

What was the most rewarding aspect of your journey?

I loved feeling my body switch to survival mode. I loved how well I slept despite all the strange sounds, wild dogs, and torrential rain. Mostly I loved learning from Charlie and watching him with the people, helping, supporting and really investing in them and giving me the opportunity to give back too by naming a scholarship program after me. A major inspiration to me, he’s like my family now.

Ones To Watch, Inspirational Women, Kokoda, journey, mentor, charity, life advice

What advice would you give to those following your career path and to those hoping to one day complete Kokoda?

Purely to pay a respect and gratitude for the greatest opportunity of all, freedom. So why not?

As a creative, what inspires you?

I’m a quick learner so I love to try anything and try and master it, whether that’d be a new technique, a new style or activity. I love pushing myself to be inspired by other creative outlets; I am inspired everyday with something else, something different every time.

What are your plans for the future? Where do you see yourself in the next 5 years?  

I have so many plans! I always love doing a lot with so much variety. I want to continue building on my strength with my fitness and yoga, continue with making art that explores a variety of executions, I want to be creating characters with my own imagination and express them with my acting, and of course be travelling to climb the rest of the treks in the world!

Ones To Watch, Inspirational Women, Kokoda, journey, mentor, charity, life advice

If you are interested in seeing more of Ayeshah or her work with WINK Models head to http://www.winkmodels.com.au/model/ayesha-rose

Ones To Watch: Ashlee Harrison

Everybody is on the hunt for young up-and-comers and, here at SHESAID, we have been lucky enough to meet a few of them. These ladies are on the road to success and generating waves within their chosen field. Whether they be creatives, sporting talent, founders of start-ups or someone striving to make are difference, these young women are definitely ‘Ones to Watch’.

There is no doubt Ashlee Harrison is generating positive change. At a young age, she experienced first hand the grief and overwhelming impact suicide can bring to a community. However, instead of letting the event hinder her, the WA native chose to use her position to benefit the lives of others and it was with this in mind that zero2hero was formed. zero2hero aims to ensure every child and young person is educated and empowered to effectively communicate and deal with mental health issues. Focused on providing programs and raising awareness, Ashlee’s hard work and commitment to the cause is inspiring. This week, we managed to find a spare moment in her busy schedule and see what she’s been up to.

RELATED: Ones To Watch: Claudia McEwen

Tell us a bit about you. Where are you from, what do you do?

I am 27 and live in Perth, WA and am about to embark on the journey called ‘motherhood’ for the first time.  I work as the CEO of a WA –based charity called zero2hero and I am the Director of a media consultancy Social Say. I value family, growth & development, new experiences, community and health.

What was the catalyst for starting zero2hero? When did you realise that this was something that you wanted to do?

At the age of 20 I lost my step-dad to suicide. The moment it happened I was shocked that someone close to me could have been struggling on such a deep level and I didn’t know. Suicide never just impacts the person that’s lost; it has a massive ripple effect. My whole family and friends were affected. After Graham’s death, I felt a deep desire to ensure that this didn’t happen to others. When I learnt that suicide is the leading cause of death for Australians under the age of 44, I knew I had to do something. So at 21 years of age I started zero2hero.

At first we hosted events and fundraisers with the aim to have people speak up and reduce the stigma surrounding mental illness. All of our fundraising went to mental health services such as Lifeline and Suicide Prevention Australia. I spent years educating myself on mental health and suicide prevention, completed courses and learnt from people and mentors running very successful not-for-profits. It was then that I saw that there was a gap in education for people before they reached the point of crisis. To prevent suicide we must start by educating our entire population on the basics of mental health and mental illness. Similar to the education we receive about our physical health, we must learn about the health of our brain. This was the turning point for zero2hero.

Today zero2hero is a WA-based charity that provides mental health and suicide prevention programs to youth across the state. We aim to achieve three outcomes with young people:

  • Educate: young people about mental health, mental illness and suicide
  • Engage: young people in open conversations about mental health with the aim to eliminate stigma surrounding mental illness and suicide, and increase help-seeking behaviour
  • Empower: young leaders to become mental health ambassadors

Each year zero2hero reaches over 70,000 young people and has trained more than 180 mental health ambassadors in suicide first aid.

What makes zero2hero unique to other organisations?

We believe that in order to impact our social issue we need to train young people to become mental health leaders and ambassadors in their community. Our research has shown that the majority of young people seek support from their friends and peers when they are in need. Using this knowledge we created programs that equip school-aged children and teenagers with the skills to speak up when they are struggling and the confidence to stand up and support their friends when they may be experiencing stress, anxiety, depression, bullying, self-harm or suicidal thoughts.

Our programs are created in partnership with the people we serve i.e.: young people. They are the advisors for all of the youth programs we run. Our programs are also free for all schools across WA to access. We believe that each and every young person needs to be educated about mental health and we don’t believe that finances should be a barrier. I believe so much in what we do, that for 6 years 100% of our income has been invested into our programs. It is only now that we are looking at hiring staff to ensure our programs are sustainable and increase our reach to rural WA.

What have been the stumbling blocks for you, initially getting started with zero2hero and since then?

The subject we are dealing with has not always been palatable. 6 years ago people were even more hesitant to say the word ‘suicide’ than they are today, however this is shifting. Funding is always a clear stumbling block for any not-for-profit when getting started. However, starting with zero has taught us to be very resourceful and innovative with the funds we do have. A big challenge for me personally has been in questioning my own leadership, asking myself ‘am I on track’ or ‘am I practicing what I preach 100% of the time.’ I am committed to being a person of integrity and this means facing where I am not being authentic to myself. Facing yourself is one of the biggest challenges a person will ever face. Worth it? Yes, but easy? Never.

What were your initial goals with the organisation and what are your plans for the next few years? How do you plan to expand and evolve?

The initial goals for zero2hero were an increase in the conversations about mental health and eliminating the stigma. This is still a goal however now we want to re-educate an entire country on mental health and how to look after their own. As an organisation we are looking at ways we can be financially sustainable and innovative. We want to create new programs and increase our reach to primary school students and rural communities.

Who do you look to for inspiration? Do you have a mentor?

The kids I work with inspire me every day, which is why I continue to do what I do. My family keeps me grounded and focused, and my peer network provides an immense amount of inspiration. I have many mentors. I would not be in the position I am today without them. I have connected with mentors through organisations such as Foundation for Young Australians and the School of Social Entrepreneurs, and I have also created mentor relationships with business people and charity leaders who inspire me.

Zero2hero focuses on some pretty heavy topics, what drives/motivates you to keep going?

I have one major rule: look after you before you even think about looking after others. I make sure that I check in with myself every day. When I am out of balance I am little good to myself or others. I also believe that in order to do the work that I am doing I must keep my feet on the ground. This means that I attend all of our youth leadership camps. These give me an opportunity to see our work first hand. It is these young people that motivate and inspire me.

Through zero2hero you have been honoured with being a State Finalist for the Australian of the Year Award. How do these recognitions such as this affect you and your organisation?

The Australia Day Council (who host the awards) has been extremely supportive of the work we do. These awards have significantly increased community awareness of our organisation and suicide prevention. They also provide recognition of the work we are doing and increase enquiries for our programs. For that we are thankful, however awards are not our focus. Our vision is that every child and young person is educated and empowered to effectively deal with mental health issues. It is important that we keep focused and let our work speak for itself. We recognise that both doing what we do and promoting it are important, as long as there is balance. Seeing the impact our programs have on young people is the true reward.

Do you find your position, as a young person aiming to change the culture among young Australians, makes your message resonate with your audience?

Working with teenagers I feel old – all the time. I think the belief and passion behind what I do would resonate regardless of my age. I do however know that being young makes it easier to connect and engage with young people. I used to get hooked on the ‘age concern’ in the business community and then when I stopped questioning myself and my age, so did others.

What are your goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years?

With a 5-year-old, camping with 50 of Australia’s most prominent young mental health leaders in a facility that’s located off the grid (i.e. no Facebook) that is owned by zero2hero and forms part of our social enterprise.

If someone else were looking to follow the same path as you, what advice would you give to them?

I think there are 7 billion paths and the advice I would give to anyone is to find their own and follow it with nothing less than 100% passion, love and authenticity.

To find out more about zero2hero or to donate towards the cause click here

Ones To Watch: Viktoria + Woods

Everybody is on the hunt for young up-and-comers and here at SHESAID we have been lucky enough to meet a selection of them. These ladies are on the road to success and generating waves within their chosen field. Whether they be creatives, sporting talent, founders of start-ups or someone striving to make a real difference, these young women are definitely ‘Ones to Watch’.

Viktoria + Woods is a partnership between Maggie Woods and Lisa Reynolds that has brought them great success in the Australian market. Since its humble beginnings in 2005, the brand now has over 70 stockists, including retail giant David Jones. Most recently the pair have been listed as finalists for DHL Express’ Fashion Scholarship, quite a feat since entrants have almost doubled since last year. With fans of the label only continuing to rise, there is no denying we must all keep a keen eye on this dynamic duo. This week, we managed to find a spare moment in their busy schedule and see what she’s been up to.

RELATED: Ones To Watch: Genevieve Clay-Smith 

Name and role:

Margie Woods and I am the Founder and Creative director of Viktoria + Woods. Lisa Reynolds and I am the Co-director and Designer of the brand Viktoria + Woods.

Tell us about what your roles. What do you get up to on a day-to-day basis?

Margie Woods (MW): As Creative Director and Founder I have a very solid vision of the brand and V+W future. From a design perspective, I am very conceptual and visionary in terms of my influence on each collection, but not hands on in the day to day perspective as my incredible partner is. My days involve driving the flow and direction of designs, marketing and brand growth. Sign off on many decisions; direct the team, including new projects. Writing collection releases, interviews, signing off on daily marketing activities, design meetings and fittings, organizing photo-shoots and team and management meetings. My role is not very operational, its mostly directional and on the whole wonderfully creative. There are administrative sides to my role, but it’s the conceptual and creative that I am passionate about.

Lisa Reynolds (LR): My role is to head and manage design and direct the production and pattern making team. The day involves a lot of research, mood-boarding, fabric supplier meetings, sketching, and fittings. The design process is quite operational. So its hands on and exciting, but does not come without challenges. Including finding that right fabrication, getting specifications and fits perfect for market release, and troubleshooting any issues. There is a lot of research, and sourcing, meeting with factories that may have specific capabilities we are looking for. It’s a challenging role but incredibly rewarding.

When did you discover your talent? How/when did you realize that fashion and design was an area you wanted to be involved with?

MW: I grew up with a very fashion obsessed family, so it was always part of my life. My mother designed her own clothing growing up, and had a dressmaker sew up or tweak all her special pieces. She still does to this day. I think that history has always been a part of me, and subconsciously this industry was always going to be my future.

LR: I came from an incredibly creative and crafty family. But it was a fashion show with Australian designer Toni Mateveski that I saw during the Melbourne Fashion festival that drove me to study fashion, and never look back.

Where did the idea come from to create Viktoria + Woods?

MW: It was an idea I had to create a line of contemporary merino wool basics, which I felt was a huge gap in the market. At that time, there was very little in the way of modern lightweight options in the market, and I had a strong vision for what the line would look like and where it would be positioned. My then partner helped make this vision a reality, which I am forever grateful for.

What were the initial stumbling blocks getting V+W off the ground? How did you resolve these?

MW: Mostly funding and sourcing the perfect quality merino that I wanted to work with. We were lucky to be able to work with a distributor in early days who helped us get through these hurdles, and support us through the development and growth until we were able to take over the distribution internally.

How would you describe the style of a women who wears Viktoria + Woods?

MW + LR: Our women are chic, classically stylish, confident, and informed on latest trends. They mix function with fashion to meet their busy lifestyles, quality driven and value designer labels

As creative, how do you deal with the pressure to continually design, create and impress?

MW + LR: Trends and lifestyles are always evolving, and so there is always something more we want to offer, and so much more we want to express. In our collections work with concepts that are often driven by feelings of what we want right now, or what we feel our customers wants from us. This is forever evolving. You can never express everything in one collection, so inspiration is constant.

Where do you find your inspiration?

MW: Spending time at the beach around water and fresh air is where I reboot and find time to be inspired. Travelling, reading, and artwork. Right now I am very inspired by ‘objects’ and installations as artwork. I am also exploring photography over painted art. Raw landscape images are contributing a lot to our moodboards at the moment with natural, organic and raw imagery with modern layers of colour.

LR: Inspiration is all around us, from the Australian lifestyle and culture to beautiful piece of merino, fine yarn or organic cotton. We design our collections to be timeless, but with a modern edge so classic tailoring is always inspirational for technique and how we can work this into a collection that has a relaxed contemporary feel.

Do you have mentors? Are there any particular people or designers you look up to? 

MW: Ellery is an inspiration. I love her courageous approach to design and the how she represents the creativity and passion that can come from Australian design.

LR: I respect and admire Stella McCartney not only for her inspired designs, but for her incredible commitment to using sustainable fibres and materials wherever possible.

Viktoria +Woods has recently been selected as a finalist for DHL’s 2015 Fashion Scholarship. How has recognition such as this affected the brand?

MW + LR: It has been incredible to be recognised as a label with potential for success and growth by DHL. The mentoring, advice and assistance this scholarship offers is an incredible opportunity for us to stay focused and on path.

What are your goals for the future?

MW + LR: To inspire our staff, our customers and our followers with beautiful clothing and an honest approach to design. To represent Australian fashion globally. We are incredibly excited to be stocking Bloomingdales from August this year. We hope to continue to evolve as a uniquely Australian brand, and hopefully support our local industry for many years to come with Australian made designs.

What advice would you give to someone wanting to follow the same path as you?

MW: Don’t rush success. Know who you are and what you represent. Work with the best creative people you can. Inspire and empower your team to be better each day.

LR: It is such an exciting, passionate industry that is filled with challenges, lots of highs and of course there are lows. But always stay true to not only yourself but to the vision you have for your label.

To view Viktoria + Woods latest collection, shop online or find your nearest store, visit: viktoriaandwoods.com.au

 

Ones To Watch: Genevieve Clay-Smith

Everybody is on the hunt for young up-and-comers and here at SHESAID we have been lucky enough to meet a selection of them. These ladies are on the road to success and generating waves within their chosen field. Whether they be creatives, sporting talent, founders of start-ups or someone striving to make a real difference, these young women are definitely ‘Ones to Watch’.

Who knew that at someone so young could make such an impact? We certainly didn’t, at least that was until we meet Genevieve Clay-Smith. Back in 2009 along with a small but driven team, Genevieve created the short film, Be My Brother, whose protagonist and film crew included Australians from marginalised backgrounds. After the film won first prize and best actor at Tropfest, Genevieve took the initiative to create her own organisation – Bus Stop Films. The pioneering organisation is providing people from all walks of life with the opportunity to become involved with the film industry. So it comes as no surprise that Genevieve’s hard work is being recognised with multiple accolades to her name. This week, we managed to find a spare moment in her busy schedule and see what she’s been up to.

RELATED: Ones To Watch: Claudia McEwen

Tell us a bit about you. Where are you from? What do you do?

I am the co-founder and co-owner of a creative agency, Taste Creative, I also voluntarily run a not-for-profit organisation, Bus Stop Films and I am a filmmaker too! So I wear a few hats and have a very hybrid career across business ownership, creative leadership and social entrepreneurship.

When did you discover your talent? What made you want to follow it into a career?

It all started with wanting to be involved in the film industry. Originally I was working towards becoming an actress but at university I discovered I actually had a knack for getting projects started, and making films. While I was at uni I got a job as a trainee filmmaker working on a documentary for Down Syndrome NSW, where I discovered that film could champion positive social change and I was very attracted to the idea that something I make could change and impact society.

Your success at Tropfest in 2009, lead you to found Bus Stop Films. What inspired you to create the film, Be My Brother?

Gerard O’Dwyer was the inspiration behind Be My Brother. He was one of the participants with Down Syndrome in the documentary I was making and he wanted to be an actor. Although he was full of talent and ambition, he’d never had the opportunity to study at a mainstream acting school and get opportunities other young actors might get. So I began questioning, who was going to see him, who was going to help him achieve his goal of acting? And then, a bright idea entered my heart – I call it my miracle moment, and the thought was “why don’t I make a film?”

And so on no budget, with limited resources, I did just that. And on this journey of making a short film starring Gerard, I was ethically driven to also include other young people with disabilities in helping to make the film too. I believed the process of making the film, was just as important as the end result. I wanted to give others the opportunity to learn. So I held a filmmaking workshop for five people with disabilities in a friends lounge room, who then fulfilled crew roles on the film.

What makes Bus Stop Films unique to other organisations?

We heavily focus on engagement with the professional film industry. We focus on using film education to up skill people’s English and literacy skills as well as personal development skills – learning how to be on time and grow self esteem. We teach film theory as well as practical filmmaking and because people are interested and passionate about the topic they step up to my expectations. When I make a film with my students I hold them to the same standards and expectations that I would have of anyone else working on set. It’s quite military. But in having high standards, you show a person that you believe in them and that you respect them, you also give them the opportunity to achieve something, they might never have thought they could.

What have been the stumbling blocks for you, initially getting started and since then? How did you resolve these?

When you think you’ve fixed one problem another one arises, and when you have finally achieved something, it’s all about what’s next. Bus Stop has achieved a lot and created some incredible social impact, but the next step for it now, is how to make it sustainable, and how to give more people access to our program. I am currently working with some amazing people who are supporting me through working out what Bus Stop 2.0 will look like! When I started Bus Stop with my Co-founder Eleanor, I simply tried to connect with as many people as possible who knew more than me, and the Foundation for Young Australians was also a wonderful support which helped me through the very beginning of setting up.

What drives/motivates you to keep going?

I know that our filmmaking program and the films we produce have an impact, and I want more people to gain access to what we’ve developed. I get fan mail every week from people all over the world saying “thank you”. And that is a big driver. I am also very passionate about education, I love teaching people and seeing them grow, I love how sharing my knowledge and passion for film can help a person develop and grow confidence. It’s magic.

Bus Stop Films is now 6 years old, congratulations! How has the organization evolved over the years?

We’ve gone from just making films with people with a disability, to realising that what we’re doing can help other people, like members of the refugee community and CALD communities. It’s all about helping people up-skill through studying a subject of interest, like film. As humans, we all love story telling, we do it everyday, we re-tell stories, we read stories and we watch films. What we do at Bus Stop, can help other people who might need help with English skills, and personal development and also, we can help those who just want to learn more about the industry. Also as my creative agency, Taste Creative has grown we’ve been able to work out pathways for my Bus Stop students to gain work experience and employment on some of our sets.

Your work has brought you some serious recognition, being named 2015 Youth of the Year and winning the Young Leader category of Westpac’s 100 Women of Influence. How has this affected you and your work? 

Honestly, it’s been wonderful to get a pat on the back, Bus Stop is voluntarily run on the side of my other work with Taste Creative and I do it for the love of it, so recognition like that simply helps me to keep going and makes me determined to get our program and films out to as many people as possible. I feel like I found something important and impacting and I need to steward it well and ensure that it can reach and help people more broadly.

As a creative, what inspires you?

I love other entrepreneurial stories, I’m very inspired by my friends at Thank You Group and also watching films and reading books inspire me. Even going for walks can help to clear my mind and bring new ideas into my head!

What are your plans for the future and the future of Bus Stop Films?

At Bus Stop we are going on a journey to explore and discover how to impact more people more broadly. We are looking at developing a new business model that will allow it to operate without me, which is very important for any organisation – the exit plan for the founders. I have discovered, only recently, that I am not scalable! The way I teach my workshops and engage with people is unique to my personality and me and can’t be replicated, so the question for us is, how to we give more people access to our program without me? We are looking at how I will set the culture and tone of our program but then ensure we can make it accessible for a wide range of people. It’s an exciting adventure because it means I am taking our impact to the next level and hopefully will help more people at a larger scale than what our current capacity is.

What advice would you give to somebody hoping to follow the same path as you?

Anyone who has an idea to do something, should jump off the deep end and give it ago – find mentors, find like minded people and just start! You might have to make some sacrifices but that’s the price of taking a risk. Also don’t expect it to be easy – if you think it will be easy you’re dreaming, and if you fail – that’s not an excuse to give up, failure is a part of growing and learning, just read Walt Disney’s story and you will be inspired not to let failure dictate your future decisions!

To see more about what Genevieve and her team get up to, head to http://www.busstopfilms.com.au/

Ones To Watch: Gordi

Everybody is on the hunt for young up-and-comers and here at SHESAID we have been lucky enough to meet a selection of them. These ladies are on the road to success and generating waves within their chosen field. Whether they be creatives, sporting talent, founders of start-ups or someone striving to make a real difference, these young women are definitely ‘Ones to Watch’.

At the tender age of 22, singer/songwriter Gordi is not your average musician. With brains to match her talent she studies medicine full time, however it is music that has really stolen her heart. Born and raised in country NSW, the now Sydney native is creating talk within the music scene. Featuring in March as a Triple J Featured Artist, there is no denying that Gordi’s unique and ethereal sound is taking her places. This week we managed to find a spare moment in her busy schedule and see what she’s been up to.

Tell us a little bit about you. Where are you from, what is it that you do?

I’m Gordi, a Sydney based singer-songwriter. I’m originally from a little town called Canowindra where I grew up on a farm called ‘Alfalfa’. I’ve always loved writing and playing music but released my first single “Nothing’s As It Seems” at the end of last year and since then music has become more like a career than a hobby (albeit financially it looks more like a hobby than a career).

When did you discover your talent? What made you want to follow it into a career?

As soon as I knew what words were I started to sing, and along the way I picked up guitar and piano. In high school I sort of found my feet in terms of performing and absolutely fell in love with it. There’s no other feeling like playing your own original music to a crowd who wants to listen.

Describe your sound.

In a word – folktronica (please excuse the wankiness of that term). The production we’ve explored for my tracks has combined acoustic instruments with more synthesised sounds with the main focus on the vocals.

As a singer/songwriter, where do you find your inspiration?

From personal experience. As a songwriter you really have to abuse your own emotions. If I’m feeling upset or angry about something I make myself sit down and channel that into a melody or lyrics. If my life starts is going through a mundane or uninteresting patch then I turn to film and poetry. Anything can trigger an idea and then you just have to let that idea take hold of you and lead you where it will.

Who has had the most impact on you as an artist? Do you have a mentor?

Musically my two main influences are The Tallest Man on Earth and Asgeir whose styles of music and writing have really inspired me. Megan Washington and Missy Higgins are two people who I see more as mentors as they are two female artists that have really shaped the musical landscape in Australia and have had such an impact on me and my interest in pursuing music as a career.

What have been your stumbling blocks, initially getting started and since then? How did you overcome these?

My main stumbling block has been trying to balance music with uni and the rest of my life which I’m still overcoming. The course that I’m studying at uni is quite demanding and music is becoming more so, so it’s hard to give 100% of myself to everything all the time. I’m just taking it as it comes and I have a great support system with my friends and family so just make it work. Though unlike other musicians who are getting drunk before shows, I’m often whipping out my laptop to do a few readings. Rockstar or what.

The music business is known for being cutthroat and a hard industry to crack. How do you deal with the pressure to continually create, preform and impress?

I have to constantly remind myself why I have chosen this career, and that is because I love writing music and performing it. Occasionally I get too caught up in trying to write something that other people will like it that will fit a mould, but the best songs are always the ones that I write without an agenda. It is a tough business but I’ve had some great fortune so far and enormous support from people and organisations whose opinions I really value. The deeper in you get, the more the pressure seems to build, but who doesn’t love a bit of pressure!

What drives/motivates you to keep going?

The fact that I can’t imagine not doing this. I can’t imagine not writing music or playing live shows. I really love doing it, it’s loads of fun and writing music keeps my head from exploding. Funnily enough the only time I really relax and let go is when I’m on stage.

Outside of music what do you get up to?

Between music and uni, I find I don’t have an abundance of free time, but when I do I spend it catching up with friends or heading home to Canowindra to see my family.

What are your plans and goals for the future? For instance, where do you see yourself in 5 years?

Hopefully I’m onto my second album by then! My main goal is to build up a bit more of a fan base, get a few music festival slots and work towards putting out an album. In between now and 5 years I’d love a few international tours too but one step at a time for now!

To listen to Gordi’s music and to receive updates on show dates and locations click here

Ones To Watch: Claudia McEwen

Everybody is on the hunt for young up and comings and here at SHESAID we have been lucky enough to meet with just a few of them. These ladies are on the road to success and generating waves within their chosen field. Whether they be creatives, sporting talent, founders of start ups or someone striving to make are difference, these young women are definitely ‘Ones to Watch’.

At the tender age of 19, Claudia McEwen went through a series of traumatic events that no-one would wish upon anybody. Yet instead of letting this experience impede her, she chose to use her position for good. With a little help from family and friends Claudia founded Wake Up, a non-for profit that aims to achieve cultural change towards alcohol among young Australians through education and awareness. There is no doubt that Claudia is both hard working and forward thinking and last year was honoured with the NSW Young Leader Pride of Australia Medal for her amazing effort towards the cause. This week we managed to find a spare moment in her busy schedule and see what she’s been up too.

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Tell us a bit about you. Where are you from, what do you do?

I am a 21 year old born and bred Sydney-sider in my fourth year at Macquarie University, studying a combined Commerce and Law degree. Whilst studying full time I am also the Joint Managing Director of a not for profit organisation, Wake Up, which was founded just over a year ago!

What was the catalyst for starting Wake Up? When did you realise that this was something that you wanted to do?

I founded Wake Up shortly after my brother was seriously injured in an unprovoked assault. He was assaulted whilst out in Bondi in December 2013 and spent 8 days in a coma. His full recovery took about 6 months. Whilst my brother was recovering I began reflecting on how common violence is in our society, and how easily we accept it as normal. I was also reflecting on my own experiences at house parties, schoolies and clubbing. I saw risk taking behaviour all around me and reflected on my own mistakes. I realised our culture needed to change. I wanted to start a campaign for a good night out, not one that is ruined by violence, alcohol misuse or drug abuse. I have never advocated for lock outs or restrictions to alcohol. I believe as young people together we should change our culture and prove to legislators that these measures are not necessary. Wake Up attends schools and speaks to students about issues that will affect them on a night out: violence, alcohol misuse, drug use and/or sexual assault.

What makes Wake Up unique to other organisations? 

I am so proud of the Wake Up team. We are all young and passionate about inspiring and educating young people. Wake Up is unique because it is run entirely by young people, for young people. Being young allows us to connect with our peers on a deeper level and really motivate them to reevaluate their attitudes.

What have been the stumbling blocks for you, initially getting started with Wake Up and since then? 

Being a naïve 19 year old I thought registering a not for profit organisation would be easy. How wrong I was! I had to navigate through a complex maze of bureaucracy and there were many times I wondered if it was worth it. I’m so glad I stuck it out, and I have so much gratitude for the many mentors who helped me out.
12 months on, our largest stumbling block is funding. Running a charity and studying full time restricts my ability to take a part time job to support myself like many other uni students. My business partner, Georgina Prior, and I have been fortunate to acquire corporate funding to develop Wake Up to its current position. However, in order to grow, Wake Up will be seeking further funding to promote awareness and educate young people.

What drives/motivates you to keep going? 

Without a doubt, the biggest motivator is the reaction we get from students after our presentations. After listening to a Wake Up presentation, we ask students to fill out a quick feedback form. They are overwhelmingly positive and thankful for our presentations. A common theme is ‘I loved the personal stories’ and ‘Its nice being taught by people close to our age who are still experiencing these things’.
A teacher at one school even commented, “I’ve never seen them all write this much after a presentation!” To know that we are connecting so well with young people is the drive that keeps Wake Up going.

Wake Up is now 1-year-old, congratulations! What where your initial goals with the organisation and what are your plans for the next few years? 

Initially, I had no idea Wake Up would be where it is today. It started as an idea, and has expanded into so much more! Our goal is to work with government, industry, police and health to facilitate a cultural change. There is not one solution that will work and it is imperative that we work together, not against each other. From personal experience, local pubs are willing to work with police to reduce antisocial behaviour, and the alcohol industry is advocating for a responsible attitude to drinking. After all, it’s not a good business model to have people passing out in your venues or being hospitalised from your products! Our goal is to continue educating young people with our presentations, and at the same time work with government, industry, health care and policy to drive cultural change.

Through Wake Up you have been honoured with the NSW Young Leader Pride of Australia Award. How do this recognition affect you and Wake Up?

Being awarded the Young Leader award for NSW was so amazing, and so unexpected! I have never wanted praise for what I do, however I am humbled at the positive response to our message and I’m grateful for the recognition that Wake Up is making a difference.

Do you find your position, as a young person aiming to change the culture among young Australians, makes your message resonate with your audience?

As a young person, I found I didn’t connect with any young role models that could give me insights and practical advice about going out and staying safe. Wake Up is a team of young people, because of this we can connect with and speak to students on their level. After all, we are still young people who go out, drink and have fun. We’re relatable.

What are your plans and goals for the future? Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 

The defining feature of Wake Up is that we are all young people, so I know I can’t do this forever. Our goal is to develop and expand Wake Up nationally – and then take a back seat as a Director when a new team of vibrant young people take over! As I am studying law in my fourth year, it’s time to start putting my education into practice and getting experience in the legal field. In the future I hope to be a lawyer, but will always maintain a presence behind the scenes for Wake Up.

If someone else were looking to follow the same path as you, what advice would you give to them? 

I would say persevere! It would have been so easy for me to give up when I got confused by the bureaucracy of registering and maintaining a not-for-profit. Also, appreciate the advice and help from others who share your passion and drive. You’ll be surprised how willing people are to help! If you have an idea, follow through. You never know where it will end up!

To find out more about Wake Up or to donate towards the cause click here

Image courtesy of Daily Telegraph

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