Empty Suitcase — The Power of the Collective with Good Intentions — Part 2
DV: Welcome back to part two of our episode with the co-founders of Good Intentions, a London-based collaborative network for design solutions. In the last part of this episode, we spoke about purpose-driven organisations and their renewed importance in a post-pandemic world.
We also went into the vibrant, exciting ecosystem that the digital space has become today and spoke to Janaa and Paulina about what made them gravitate towards creating a collaborative network and how the concept really works.
So let’s pick up from where we left off.
How does a collaborative network work? [0:57]
A collaborative environment is non-hierarchical; the team may have a leader, but they act more like a guardian of the project who makes sure the team is on track. I might be the founder of DV Media Co., but it’s really the members of the collective who create and push the culture of collaboration.
Janaa, Paulina — welcome back, ladies! Let’s talk a little bit more about Good Intentions. As co-founders, how clearly defined are each of your roles in the collaborative network?
JM: Our roles are pretty defined. I am the Project Manager, and Paulina is the Art Director, but we each have our own skill sets. Our role within the collaborative network is to enhance each other’s skills and learning potentials. We act as the connecting threads within a much larger tapestry. [1:37]
Knowledge is power, and combined knowledge is the way forward. [2:27]
PK: I completely agree with that! That’s a very accurate way of summing up how a collaborative network works.
The key highlight here is that there’s no boss in this story. It’s not about rank or authority; we don’t want our business to thrive through ego and competition. That’s the fundamental belief. Our creative output and collective community will speak for itself, and that’s how we’re going to achieve our goals. [3:05]
DV: Absolutely, we’re not defined by our designation, right? Ladies — in your opinion, what is the key to building lasting client relationships?
JM: We treat our clients like friends. We build a relationship with them based on mutual understanding and harmony. I like to take into account the person, and then get to know them on a business level. [4:08]
Understanding your client, their challenges, their opportunities and their issues — this is really the key to understanding their wants and needs. Every client is different, and our approach has to vary accordingly. [4:41]
PK: I completely agree with Janaa. Being able to understand your client on a human level, and bringing humanity back into the workplace is important. We use our intuition and empathy to see eye-to-eye with people. Educating the client on the process, and guiding them through what can seem intimidating to them, is the key to building trust. [5:50]
DV: If you ask me, authenticity is the key to building lasting client relationships. Harmony doesn’t mean we don’t have differences — it’s how we handle these differences. It’s important to develop a connection and we connect with every individual in a unique manner. [7:20]
At the end of the day, we work with brands to communicate their vision to their audience. We are all about understanding the ethos of the brand, and making meaningful connections at meaningful moments. [9:18]
Paulina, you and I have had so many conversations over the years about intuitive creativity. Can you tell us a little bit about what it really means to you?
PK: Intuitive creativity is really important for your growth as a human, and for your growth within the creative field. For me, intuitive creativity is like a spiritual opening. It’s about being in alignment with yourself, and manifesting creative work from a place of true authenticity. Creativity is an ever-changing state of mind, induced by all kinds of things around us that imprint on us. You have to learn how to quiet the noise, because that gets in the way of your state of flow. Your flow is creating your best work. That’s what I aim to focus on all the time. [09:49]
Being able to practise being present, centred, grounded in your daily work, and daily life, is definitely the best way to create your best work. [11:34]
DV: I couldn’t agree with you more, Paulina. For me, personally, intuition is all about looking at any given moment from a holistic point of view. It’s very difficult to do that; it takes practice. [12:20]
Next, I would like to jump straight into what a collaborative network is.
When it comes to DV Media Co., we help sustainable brands and social enterprises create and scale up their online presence. We do this by conducting market research, and finding just the right digital marketing mix based on their respective needs. We are also focused on brands looking for a digital transformation and one thing I have learnt over the past couple of years is that transformation comes with a lot of education. It’s really important for us to address what it means to transform a business from an offline to an online space. [13:18]
When it comes to Good Intentions, could you tell us about what your clientele or prospective clientele looks like?
JM: At the moment, we’re working with a lot of start-ups, established brands and individuals. We have a really versatile client base, which is great, because you’re never bored. Each client is unique. In terms of prospective clients, we’re hoping to work with more sustainable and holistic brands that really have some good CSR activations and good causes, for us to be able to give back to the community. We also want to increase our outreach for people to join the Good Intentions creative hub. [14:40]
PK: The basis of our prospective clientele would align with us wanting to make more of a social impact. We would do this by sending our services to individuals and start-ups. Fundamentally, we invest our time in the idea; we nurture concepts, no matter how big or small. We want to be able to extend our services to everybody. [15:38]
We’ve definitely seen, internally, the emergence of the concept of a ‘brand facelift’. We take existing brands that might not have much of a digital presence, and we bring them into the 21st century by rejuvenating their aesthetics, giving them a new website, cleaning up their logos, adding new brand elements and updating their imagery. It creates a small overhaul, allowing the company to enter the market with a new competitive edge. [16:35]
DV: At DV Media Co., we make sure we are updated on the most cutting-edge ways to build businesses online, and working together in an ever-changing environment makes sure that we view our work through an evolutionary lens. [18:24]
Paulina, Janaa — tell me a little bit about some of your biggest challenges and learnings while starting Good Intentions.
JM: I think it’s safe to say that starting your business is the steepest learning curve of all time! You learn on a daily basis. That’s the beauty of it, truly. The problem is with learning how to switch off and recharge your batteries. It’s really important to create a ritual signifying that it’s the end of the day, and pull yourself away mentally. [19:12]
If you don’t do that, you risk burning out and you kill your creative flow. Your creative flow depends on replenished energy. [20:52]
PK: For us, the biggest challenge of running a business is exactly that — running a business. There’s a lot of different moving parts, besides the work itself, and the clients. Switching off is not easy, but it’s much-needed. It’s one thing to just state your morals and values as a company, it’s another to follow through on that every single day. [23:02]
JM: As a co-founder, and Project Manager, you learn that making mistakes is how you grow. Experience is everything, especially with Project Management. Everybody can always do better, and that’s what the journey is all about. Growing, learning, engaging other people and keeping an open mind to other people’s perspectives. [24:20]
DV: With setting up DV Media, too, one of the biggest challenges is attracting the right kind of people. I want to create an environment where people feel safe psychologically — one where you can express yourself without the fear of being judged. When we’re all so used to a hierarchy and a clear division of labour, embracing kindness and rest and creative flow feels like something completely new. One thing I want to learn how to do better is to learn how to switch off from work, personally. [27:04]
You are defined by who you are, and not what you do, right?
One of my biggest learnings has been that a collaborative network can really help you grow. [29:00]
So looking to the future, guys — let’s talk about the next six months and how they’re looking for our networks. For DV Media, marketing my marketing company is a priority, no pressure (kidding, only pressure!).
This marketing campaign will determine how many clients I will attract. Every day, I wake up and work towards creating a culture that people would like to be a part of, with experts that people would like to work with. [30:46]
Good Intentions, what are the next six months looking like for you?
JM: We would like to network more in London with other creative communities, grow our online presence and get in touch with more female leaders and different people who are doing similar work. That’s going to be our main focus. [31:06]
PK: We definitely want to be able to join more women-led conferences and talks. We want to be able to educate ourselves in entrepreneurship, not only as new entrepreneurs — but as women. Janaa and I have also spoken about the idea of Good Intentions — especially our online platform — becoming a creative hub for other women in businesses and creatives alike. A platform for them to be able to share, use and get inspired. We have some exciting things in store for the future, and we can’t wait to unveil them. [31:31]
DV: Super excited to see what you ladies have in store for us! We’re definitely going to be following your work.
Creative work, creative community — isn’t creativity really at the heart of everything we are trying to do as collectives to transform digital media?
GI: Most definitely. It’s the factor that connects us. [32:50]
DV: Thank you so much, ladies! This was an absolute honour. The values your entity is embodying are inspiring… and hopefully, contagious! Before I let you go, do you want to share with our listeners how they can find you or get in touch with you?
Conclusion — DV Media Co.’s take on the conversation about the future of organisations.
A big part of our journey here at DV Media Co. is to build a company that is a living organism.
Traditional management models operate through hierarchy and a clear division of labour. What we believe, on the other hand, is that self-management trumps division of labour and hierarchy.
Sure, our system has project leaders but, for us, they act like guardians of the project. Guardians bring stability, order and rigour to the projects we take on.
Wow. What we have learnt so far, and know, is that working together in a collaborative network encourages partnership, a healthy discourse and a personal sense of accountability. Every person involved within the project has a vested interest in its success from the very start to the end. I know you must be thinking — if this way of working makes so much sense, then why are we still stuck in the old paradigm of organisational structure?
Well, change takes time — and most importantly, a lot of awareness and many, many success stories. I know one thing from experience: creativity and collaboration, together, are capable of endless results — something I witnessed firsthand in New York.
One of the two instances that I can recount are the time when I was extremely fortunate to have worked with some of the most talented and accomplished individuals in the esoteric field of Media. They taught me all about managing innovations in media and that there are no bounds to human potential when we create collectively.
This takes me back to this one time in 2018. An artist, a blank canvas, a media entrepreneur and a designer shared ideas. One year later, the story of a young girl, a dress that was made in the most natural way in the heart of Auroville in India, many visits to The Met museum, and countless art galleries — all found a place in this painting. John Mitchell, my dear friend and the artist in this instance, used to say that a painting is a collaborative effort. People, expertise and resources from all walks of life contribute to every layer of paint on the canvas.
And the designer, Viji Joy, is the founder of That Thou Art, a conscious fashion house from India that created the beautiful dress for the subject in the painting I just mentioned. She enlightened us by sharing that the garment that is now forever personified in John Mitchell’s artwork, is made of organic cotton. But check this out — it was not woven with a handloom. Instead, the dress was created with solar power.
Her reason? Handloom is labour-intensive, and that’s why production is limited. Using solar power is a more natural way of doing things, and there is potential not just to scale up the production of such fabrics and garments, but to do it sustainably.
Everything that independent networks like DV Media Co., Good Intentions, Mandalah and The Sway Effect have to offer is more important than ever before. The communications industry is at an inflection point; it is time to make the best possible use of the resources at hand and do more with less. Today, brands need access to experts to meet the challenges of the modern marketing and communications industry. And these are exactly the people who make up these collectives and collaborative networks.
Collectives and collaborative networks might not be quite as popular in India yet, but they’re hardly a new concept!
I believe, in opening up this conversation about the power of the collective, it is possible that we have raised more questions than we’ve answered. But maybe it’s time we introduce these ideas into the public discourse, because envisioning the future of Media is not just about imagining a preferred future. It is about using that vision to decide what to do right now, in order to move towards the preferred future.
There is an urgent need for a more empathetic, inclusive and sustainable way of life — and building this ‘new normal’ is something we’re committed to — we’re all buckled up and in it for the long haul!
So that brings us to the end of our second episode of Empty Suitcase. Tune in next month for our conversation with Mayank Garg — Head of Content, MediaCom, Middle East & North Africa — on the intricacies of creating content in a post-Covid world.
Catch you next month! Stay safe, stay sane.
Written by Aditi Dharmadhikari and Dona Varghese
Produced by Kaleekarma