4 ways women in leadership can uplift other women in the creative industry

State of Escape
Two models holding State of Escape bags on a rooftop

When women come together to create, great things happen.

International fashion brand State of Escape knows the importance of investing in opportunities for the success of women more than most. The brand is committed to providing greater opportunities for students entering the fashion industry, and has partnered with Adobe to donate 100 Creative Cloud licenses to underrepresented students studying fashion and design at Torrens University.

In a recent conversation with State of Escape co-founder Desley Maidment, we discussed the new Creative Cloud license program and how the industry can better support women.

Desley revealed the four ways that women in leadership can empower others in the fashion and creative industry.

1. Strengthening digital literacy skills

When it comes to the intent behind State of Escape’s pledge to underrepresented students studying fashion, Desley explains that digital literacy skills are essential to accelerating women’s careers in the industry.

“We really believe in digital literacy, being able to give women access to the technology and digital tools that allow them to enhance the skills and those natural abilities they have.” she said.

As the fashion industry continues to evolve its manufacturing processes, e-commerce, retail and social media, there is a rapid expansion of new roles and career opportunities emerging. Understanding technology and relevant software helps women to build confidence in what they create and how they share it – all while enhancing their ability to be both industry players and in positions of leadership.

2. Uplifting women at all stages of their careers

According to Desley, tapping into the talent of early career starters and building a community of women who support each other is critical.

Women in leadership need to support other women in their career growth and acknowledge the power new starters have, instead of waiting for them to reach a position where they are valuable to the business. Desley stresses the need to “bring women in early, develop, nurture that talent so that they can naturally progress into these leadership positions.”

It’s up to business leaders to give women a seat at the table and offer the right training and tools that ultimately help them evolve into valuable leaders. Businesses should also consider the trajectory of women’s future careers, with Desley explaining that “it isn’t an overnight situation where a woman, or anyone, is going to become a leader. It is a process, and you have to support and nurture that along the way.”

3. Championing ‘womentorship’

A powerful way to strengthen and help women progress in their careers is through ‘womentorship’. Through their work with Torrens University, State of Escape is not only helping to build digital literacy skills amongst underrepresented students but is providing mentorship and guidance to those in the early stages of their careers.

Desley explains how students in the program have the opportunity to visit the State of Escape head office for one-to-one sessions with Brigitte MacGowan, co-founder and Chief Creative Director. The sessions are a chance to discuss firsthand experiences and challenges and workshop how the mentees can develop their career in the industry.

For State of Escape, mentorship is a two-way street. It's not only what the students can learn from the brand's co-founders but also what they can learn from the student's individual experiences.

Desley further elaborates on ‘womentorship’ and how the mentor-mentee relationship transcends beyond just career aspirations, stating that “it is not just about progressing your career, but it's about finding someone who can spark that internal kind of motivation, energy and self-belief.”

4. Strengthening support and collaboration in the fashion industry

For the State of Escape founder, education is one of the crucial ways to build better support for women in the fashion industry - but that education should be accessible and universal. This is one of the core beliefs that drove State of Escape to partner with Adobe for the 100 Creative Cloud licenses.

In fashion and design, “it’s not some sort of exclusive club, that you have to have a particular creative talent for to be inside the industry. It’s about having grit, determination and a passion.”

Fostering support is also part in parcel to the way women come together to collaborate. For instance, within the fashion industry, there is an amplitude of expertise across roles like design, planning, finance and merchandising. In such an evolving industry, women should be looking for ways to collaborate across these diverse disciplines to build critical thinking and share knowledge for both their personal and business growth.

‘Womentorship’ marks an opportunity for all women to champion the importance of sharing advice and supporting one another.

Need more inspiration? See how our creative community are sharing in the spirit of ‘womentorship’ here.