An Intimate Evening of Real Talk

Posted by Kendra Futcher on 04.02.24

Huddle fell out of a collective feeling we all had. A sense that we all needed to talk and listen in a cosy, candlelit space. A bit like a live podcast. Less celebrating success and more speaking openly about the ups and the downs of doing what we do.

Back in May 2023, we hosted Creative Roots and welcomed Lisa Smith and Cat How who shared their career journeys from the southwest to some of the world’s coolest cities. It was a wonderfully inspiring evening, but we felt it was time to do something different. Something which reflected what’s been a challenging year and offered a sense of solidarity and unity.

It was a suitably frosty late November evening and the ethereal christmassy calm of The Mount Without proved to be the perfect venue for Huddle. It felt like we came to the altar to share our truths!

We kicked off with Everything Sucks Until it Doesn’t and lovely Dan Srokosz, Creative Director at Bath-based brand and communications agency, AUK. For the past 12 years he’s zig-zaggedhis way across the industry working both agency and client-side, as well as running his own two-man studio. Dan channelled being in the pub with your mate, and shared his career journey from Somerset tractor manufacturer to global design agency. Self-effacing, funny and warm, we heard about the valuable lessons learned in his first job, the intensity of running your own agency with your best mate, and the joys of having a baby during Covid. It’s clearly been quite a ride, but his joy in applying all he’s learned to his senior role and helping brands and people grow, was palpable. It was a lesson in creative resilience.

Next up was Katie Donovan-Adekambie, founder of Bristol equality, diversity & inclusion consultancy BCohCo, chatting Building Sustainable Communities. Bringing a distinct reverence to the stage, Katie shared her experience working at grassroots level and across national and local Government to champion people in all their magnificent differences. A woman of dual heritage, she is continually navigating her Black and White world, an experience and focus which informs every aspect of her work. The depth and breadth of Katie’s knowledge coupled with her quiet confidence were inspiring and it was clear that she thrives off finding the answers to the challenges these differences present, for both the individuals and the system. It was a really enlightening conversation that shone a light on the uncomfortable stuff like White privilege, unconscious bias and representation. It left us all wanting to hear more.

Stepping up next was Joss Ford, Founder and owner of Bristol and London purpose-led agency Enviral, talking The Push and Pull of Purpose-led. Having doodled the Enviral logo on a notebook in a lecture at uni, Joss has since been growing an agency that uses the power of creativity and communication to drive behaviour change. But purpose-led is everywhere. Clients and agencies alike are doing it and brands are being called out for green washing every day. But what does it really mean? Is the concept of brand purpose dead? And what’s the reality of running a purpose-led agency, behind the smoke, mirrors and greenwash? Joss was candid in sharing the challenges of making progress in this space, both in terms of using design and communications to drive change and within his own business. Uncharacteristically quiet and reflective, this was a chance to hear a more serious side to the usually upbeat, high energy Joss that we know.

Last up, we heard from a true Bristol legend, Izzy Cross from Noods Levels who talked about Building a Vibrant Creative Community. An independent and experimental social enterprise, Noods Levels (CIC) has spent the past 6 years building up a platform to help young people develop their creative practice. Izzy and the Noods team aim to break down the professional and social barriers that young people often face when starting out in a creative career. She talked about the charity’s dedication to bringing young people together from a diverse range of backgrounds and empowering them to create new opportunities through collaboration. Real, warm and passionate, Izzy definitely delivered the passionate, pay-it-forward, hope-fuelled finale we’d hoped for.

We loved everything about this evening and hope everyone that came did too. The power of simple talk, no screen, no deck, no distraction (well maybe just a little from the party in the Crypt!) Just people and their thoughts, sharing ideas and experiences, and being open about the rough and the smooth. There was a strong sense of solidarity. Not even the brisk winter air could chill us after such a heartwarming evening.

A big thanks to everyone who came, our lovely hosts Natty and Helen, our brilliant volunteers who always go above and beyond, and our partners in Huddle – Gather Round, WithPrint, The Mount Without and Pytch.

Keep your eyes peeled for our next Huddle!