This time two weeks ago, I was frantically getting through my extremely long to-do list, feeling anxious and excited and exhausted, as it was my second Creatival within a month, after Manchester at the beginning of September. It was also my second Creatival in Exeter, having previously held my inaugaral one in 2018 - so how would it compare??!
I can honestly say, I enjoyed it so, so much - and in a way, I felt so much more relaxed this year. I felt positive, I felt good, and I felt prepared. Exeter is a much more familiar place to me than Manchester, and although going up North was SO much more of a buzz, with it all being so new to me, Exeter was like being with family. So many people came that I already knew - so I guess I felt they already knew what to expect? It was such an incredible day, and I'm so grateful for everyone who was involved.
Before I risk turning this into some kind of Oscar speech (!!), I'll share a few gorgeous photos and a little bit about my aims for the event.
My goal for Creatival has always been about bringing together the creative community away from their online businesses, to an offline event, and to offer the opportunity for networking, potential for collaboration, as well as practical, actionable business knowledge. But this year it has gone so much deeper than that.
I've been working with lots of my clients recently on their business ethics, and helping them try to reduce their waste - and I've struggled with how I could use my (service) business for good with regards to the climate emergency and sustainability as a whole. I knew I had to practice what I preach and with Creatival, and all the events and meetups I run, they had to have sustainability, and inclusivity at their heart.
Decorations I had last year, I knew weren't needed. I chose speakers who would talk about running an ethical business. I wanted the venues to be aligned with regards to their accessibility and inclusivity. I wanted to have both events plastic free. I was clear in my statement on the event page, so I felt really happy that my values were being reflected in the events. Not only were these events to focus on the importance of community, but also on running a sustainable business.
But then after publicising the Exeter date earlier this year, it was announced a few months ago that the same date would be host to a day of global environmental action with the Climate Strike. I felt conflicted.
On one hand, I wanted to be able to be part of such an important, historic event. But I couldn't cancel the event and attend the strike, so I wanted to recognise the importance of the day and make some kind of contribution. I decided to use my opening welcome to acknowledge what we, as small businesses, can do to make a difference. I've shared my words below.
I do, however want to recognise that today is not just Creatival, there is something far more important happening, as you’ll probably know! Today, 20th September, is a day when millions of people over 120 countries are striking for climate change.
Millions of students, and adults aside them, will walk out of their schools, workplaces and homes to strike on the streets and demand an end to the age of fossil fuels, and it is shaping up to be the biggest day of climate action in the planet’s history.
Being here, we are unable to take part in the actual strikes, but I feel it is incredibly important to make some kind of contribution, even if it is through conversation between us all.
I was reading through the global climate strike website to try and find out how best to have impact if you’re not able to strike. It says: “Everyone is needed to disrupt business as usual: from sports stars, actors and teachers to food industry workers, psychologists, delivery drivers and everything in between. We can all take part, whatever our circumstances, by refusing to accept the status quo.”
I believe, that in the nature of what we do, we are all ‘disrupting business as usual’ and ‘refusing to accept the status quo’ because we are running our own businesses, following our dreams and not confirming to what society considers the ‘norm’.
I also believe that most, if not all of you, in this room are aware that change needs to happen. We then need to recognise the power we have in our hands.
We can, today, make decisions in our businesses to lesson the impact on the environment. We are luckier than the bigger global corporations because we can change our systems so much easier. We can decide to go plastic packaging free TODAY – go speak to Emily on the Naked Cards stand. We can take a look at the supply chain of our products and assess pretty quickly if there is any kind of environmental impact, or worker oppression or exploitation – and if there is, we can change it.
I want us all to do our bit for the climate strike by making the decision TODAY to look at our businesses and make changes we need to. And then tell people. Tell your customers, your friends, your family – educate others in the way you have changed your business for the better. And then make changes in the way you shop – we’ll hear more about this from Kalkidan in a moment.
As the global climate strike website says – “These Climate Strikes won’t solve the climate crisis alone. What this moment can do is demonstrate that people are no longer willing to continue with business as usual. The urgency of the climate crisis requires a new approach and a just response centred on human rights, equity, and justice.”
And we can all create a new approach to our business.
As Greta says:
“This is not a single-generation job. It’s humanity’s job... Let’s all join together, with your neighbours, co-workers, friends, family and go out on to the streets to make your voices heard and make this a turning point in our history.”
Please make the most of your day today – and take what you learn forward to make a real difference to your business and the world we live in.
I'm not just sad when I see other events, businesses or people acting as if it is still 'business as usual', I'm starting to get angry. I want this message to be spread far and wide, and I want to start calling it out. The climate strike was started by one lone teenage girl, and now millions of us are stepping up. Those who aren't, well I don't think there is any excuse they can give me that would make me accept their reasoning. It stops now.
I'm SO proud of the Creatival events and what they stand for. Yes, I know I can still do better and I am determined to next year. Thank you so much to each and every one of you who were part of it. This community, and everything we work towards, is something so, so special and I'm immensely proud to be a part of it.
All these beautiful photos were taken by the brilliant Georgia de Lotz and the full album can be found on her website. If you would like to use any of the original images (low or high res) then please email me for the links. Any use of these images must be credited to Georgia and myself. Thank you!! xx
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