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Changing the Creative Industry with Scope Of Work

For our latest Cloudnova shoot, we teamed up with Scope Of Work, a New York based talent agency out to change the creative industry by nurturing young Black, Indigenous, and People of Color. Learn more.

 

The Cloudnova is all about challenging the status quo. About seeking new opportunities. Fluid and versatile, it is what you make of it. 

 

From early morning commutes to bike rides under dusky skies – and everything in-between – it’s got the tech to keep up with anything your day has in store. 

 

Performance born, design bred. It’s a nod to our heritage as a running brand but inspired by the the possibilities ahead. The future is unknown. But what’s certain is that it’s the creatives of this world who are driving us forwards into exciting new territories. 

 

That’s what the team at Scope Of Work, a talent development agency for young Black, Indigenous, and People of Color (BIPOC) creatives aged 17 - 24 years old, is all about.

 

Operating out of their New York hub, Scope Of Work (SOW) was founded in 2016 by two artists and educators, Eda Levenson and Geneva White. 

  

Their goal? To create equity in the creative industry for underrepresented young people. To shift the landscape of the creative sector by cultivating the next generation of BIPOC industry leaders, giving them the skills and opportunity to make an impact. 

           

 

"Artists have the ability to create and manifest new worlds,” they say.

 

“While New York’s young people of color are often hailed as global trendsetters, they are excluded from their rightful seat at the table through exploitation, ineffective recruitment, and retention practices. SOW is a blueprint for the creative sector to rectify centuries of systemic inequity by investing directly in young BIPOC creatives.”

 

Like On, Eda and Geneva want to work with forward-thinking individuals who find power in collective thought. People who want to make a change for the better. 

 

Recognizing not only the talent they champion, but a worthy cause to try and get behind, we knew we had to reach out to them and get their creative team working on our most recent Cloudnova shoot.

 

Their concept? 

 

"The New York City lifestyle demands a certain level of athleticism whether it’s from the steep Bronx hills or the L train that came eight minutes early (instead of every 10 minutes) on the first day to your new job. This concept is an ode to the level of functionality, comfort and style that is called for in our everyday New York life, especially when we are gearing up for a long day ahead of us."

 

Scroll down for behind-the-scenes look and for a Q&A with the agency’s founders, plus some of the SOW members, to find out more about the crucial work they’re doing to help the creative community Hit Refresh. 

     

 

Collectives like SOW are very much needed. As young black and brown creatives, we need to take up space. We need to be seen. We need to be heard. We need to be uplifted. But we also need guidance. We need structure. We need the tools and resources to succeed. SOW is that for us. 

   

Geneva White is a fine art photographer with an extensive career addressing inequities in higher arts education and arts institutions and the insurmountable barriers to the creative industry faced by New York’s young people of color.

 

Eda Levenson has worked with youth in schools, non-profits, and health clinics. She’s also the founder of a nail art brand and works in fashion and design. She feels that the creative industry is built on “borrowed” youth culture but young people of color are often excluded from opportunities in these spaces. 

 

Hey guys, can you tell us a little about yourselves and your backgrounds? 

 

"As two women artists and educators of color, we came to this work because we live it.

 

"SOW is the result of our life’s work and collective commitment to creating equity and justice for young people of color. Our combined experiences have taught us that it’s our responsibility to leverage our talents, platforms, networks, and resources to confront the cycles of exploitation, erasure of narratives, and marginalization of youth."

 

Collectives like SOW are important because without them many POC creatives don't have the resources and connections to break the barriers set before us. Collectives like SOW allow their youth to grow. The best part is that it's nothing less than working with family.   

  

 

What inspired you to create Scope Of Work? 

 

"Gen Z has been labeled as “highly entrepreneurial” and as having a strong interest in founding their own companies. However, young BIPOC creatives face exponentially greater barriers to creative careers than their white counterparts. Without a college-ready portfolio, an education from a top art school, or a competitive internship, it’s incredibly difficult for them to land a job in the creative sector.

 

"The creative industry appropriates and monetizes youth culture into products that do not credit or benefit the originators. 

 

"SOW creates pathways for NYC’s young BIPOC to circumvent these hurdles by connecting them directly to the creative economy and holding the industry accountable. 

  

"NYC is a global economic hub with a billion-dollar creative industry that is mostly white and does not reflect the communities around it."

   

 

How have you made an impact so far? 

 

"We measure the success of our young people through the accumulation of strong creative and professional skills, social capital, advanced creative careers, and financial independence.

 

"Since being founded, we’ve built a BIPOC creative community of over 300 young people, partnered with 25 companies, placed 81 young people in paid positions, and generated over $300,000 of income for young POC creatives."

 

 

As a young creative, navigating the industry it can feel daunting and lonely. Being able to be a member of SOW, with other young creatives of color gives me a sense of unity and makes me feel like I'm less alone. 

  • Celestia, Casting Director 

 

What sort of institutions and companies do you work with? 

 

"We partner with a range of creative companies from design agencies, fashion brands, media outlets, and art institutions. Our deepest and longest partnerships have been with three boutique agencies -- Verdes, Combo, and WeShouldDoItAll. Over the years we’ve placed a number of SOW Members in full-time, part-time, and freelance positions at these companies and more as designers, strategists, photographers, and producers."

      

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What have you been working on recently? 

    

"SOW recently launched a digital campaign in partnership with the Movement For Black Lives called GOODS. Geneva, alongside Jonathan Jackson, Founder and Creative Director at WeShouldDoItAll, led a team of 10 SOW Black creatives to develop a campaign about the ways in which Black people create value for themselves outside of the white corporate gaze. 

 

"SOW Members created and produced everything from strategy to design to the social media rollout. The campaign was rooted in three core principles: Knowing Your Worth, Protecting Your Power, and Collecting What is Owed. 

 

"We’re proud that in a cultural and political climate in which a national civil rights movement is calling for Americans to center and protect the most marginalized among us, we were able to support and feature Black SOW Members and young black artists and activists in such a meaningful way."

 

 

SOW makes you feel as though you are always a part of something greater than yourself through the opportunities to connect with those in the industry, exceeding goals, and simultaneously making you feel safe and secure. It's important for everyone to have that sense of community which has been lacking in the creative industry. 

 

 

Any particular success stories you’d like to highlight? 

     

"One of the things that we’re most proud of is our brand identity, created by SOW member, Marinique Mora. She developed our logo and guidelines under the mentorship of Kapono Chung at Combo, one of our longtime industry partners.

  

"It has always been a core tenet of SOW’s that all content and photography featured on our website or Instagram are created by the SOW community."

    

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