by Kevon Browne
St. Kitts and Nevis (WINN): Food for Creative Souls (FFCS) is an educational initiative based and operating in the Caribbean offering Creative Bootcamps, Mentorships, Scholarship Assistance, Portfolio Development and Networking Events according to their website.
The mission is to strengthen the Caribbean Creative Sector by being a source of support, growth and knowledge for persons driven by their creative passions and creating opportunities.
Art Director and Creative Strategist Naadiya Mills, the point person for FFCS, in an interview on WINN’s Island Tea Tuesday, March 16 spoke about her experience in the US as being the only person of colour, or one of the few who were in the classroom, intern pool and advertising agencies.
“The industry… it’s a niche group of people and it’s a very tiny door to get into… so quite often I was the only person of colour in the classroom, in the agencies, among my intern group and you kind of go, ‘Well there’s a lot of talented people. Why aren’t they in this room?’ and you realize the kind of ideas that are being pumped out, how it influences our experience of life and you realize these voices are critical and we need to have them in the room,” Mills explained and went on to indicate that she has observed that currently in the US there’s a strong push for diversity and opportunities for people abroad, especially in the Caribbean to enter the advertising industry, “… it’s the first time that tiny door has been open a lot wider and I would love to see a lot more Caribbean people especially from St. Kitts in the advertising industry.”
Mills has expertise in graphic design and art direction and worked for some advertising companies in the US such as Ogilvy, BBDO, and BrightHouse before she ultimately decided to come home to be a mentor for young people who wish to traverse the creative world as their career.
Currently, FFCS in collaboration with the Department of Youth Empowerment is hosting an eight-week Creative Bootcamp which started in February and will ultimately culminate in a ceremony and panel discussion on March 27 to close the Boot Camp.
The participants include students from the youth media group within the department of youth empowerment and Mills is providing her expertise and network for free to elevate the creative industry in the federation.
“I essentially share my knowledge for free with all these students ranging from copywriting, photography, strategy, art direction… anything creative I openly share with my students.”
With Mills during the interview was one of the participants who gave her testimony of what she experienced during the boot camp.
“Like Naadiya said I’ve been a part of the Boot Camp twice now, first in 2019 and now this year. I’ve always had an interest in the creative industry and I could definitely say that because of the boot camp… I’ve realized that this is… the path that I would probably go down. Naadiya… he knowledge is beyond what I could explain. I’ve learned a lot from the boot camp and a lot of careers that I’ve never even heard of…” the student expressed.
The participants of the boot camp are engaged in a virtual walk-through of a creative ad agency with mentor Alex Brueggeman, Recruiter and Diversity Lead at “72andSunny”. They also were mentored by Russell Dodson, Creative Director at “72andSunny” and former original Executive Creative Director of trailblazing advertising agency “David.”
“This boot camp is eight weeks long, the students have three projects and essentially they have two weeks to complete the project. Along the way I invite mentors from the US… we’ve had Russell Dodson, [of the advertising agency] “David”… Taylor Reaves from TBWA… Alex Brueggeman [a] recruiter and diversity lead [who] led the students through what’s going on in the US and how they could fit in… We’re actually having a certificate ceremony and panel discussion on March 27 and the Executive Creative Director and General Creative Director of “72andSunny” [are] going to be there opening discussing how we could eventually advance the creative industry in St. Kitts and Nevis,” said Mills.
Check out the full interview with Naadiya Mills here: