Founder & Creative Director
Wakeup World Designers Group
The Wakeup World Designers Group is an international group of creatives, business professionals and visionaries focused on producing work for the better of mankind.
The collective is the driving force for the Wakeup Campaign, a creative behavioural change social enterprise headquartered in London.
Founded by Viviane Williams in 2010 the organization uses design disciplines to help bring social change to local communities, producing marketing campaigns, innovative advertisements, guerrilla marketing, social media strategies and events.
The Wakeup Campaign was the recipient of this year’s O2’s Think Bigger Award and founder Viviane Williams was named one of the UK’s young social entrepreneurs of the year at Striding Out’s Future 100 awards.
Why did you decide to start your company?
I decided to start up Wakeup Campaign because I believe there needs to be great design, ideas, creativity and knowledge to drive social and sustainable projects for entrepreneurs, companies and organisations. This can be achieved in a way that is original, stimulating and innovative to help growth and development in business.
The name, Wakeup Campaign, was conceived from an invigorating experience gained while undertaking development work in Ghana. I myself was “waking up” to issues dealing with aid, environmental factors, infrastructure issues, employment and technological subject matters while working out there for a few months.
What inspired your decision to go to Ghana?
After working as a creative designer and operations assistant at The Walt Disney Company, I wanted to go back into education to master my craft of branding, marketing, economics and graphics design. So I decided to do a Masters at Goldsmiths University of London in Creative Cultural Entrepreneurship.
I had three months spare so I decided I wanted to travel, but not just to go on a holiday and be a tourist, I wanted to do development work in a developing country. So I decided to go back to my roots in Ghana, West Africa.
Once there I taught at schools, helped to build a community centre for the village, farmed rice and cocoa pods, worked in clinics and helped to build the communities infrastructure with a team of 16 UK citizens.
What was your career path prior to starting your first business?
Before starting my business, I threw myself into various roles to not only understand the types of work I could get into, but to comprehend what these roles required. I wanted to understand which career choice to make.
I completed a BA Honours degree in Design Branding & Marketing, my course was so broad and I loved a lot of aspects to it. I’ve worked for a variety of companies such as The Body Shop working in marketing, The Walt Disney Company in the fashion and home team and working for ethical fashion brands such as Katherine Hamnett.
Did you always know that you would start your own business?
Deep down I think I have always known I wanted to start my own business, or at least be at the top of my game in whatever field I chose to go into.
My dad, who is an entrepreneur, runs his own financial company. I have been fortunate to be surrounded by a mixed bag of not only business minded people, but creative and academic people also.
What are you working on at the moment?
At the moment, I’m working on Wakeup Campaign’s “Conscious Swap Shopping Events.” The events will be an exploration of our consciousness through the way we consume, behave, shop and feel. The events will debate identity, habits, behavioural patterns and the psychoanalysis of our shopping rituals.
The event space will include a costume designer customising clothes, ethical fashion brands selling their garments and a Q&A session from influential people in the fashion, lifestyle and academic spheres. We’re launching the initiative on the 17th September at Rich Mix arts Centre in Shoreditch London.
Can you describe your typical working day?
My daily routine is checking my emails, monitoring our social media channels, reading blogs and articles on social affairs, sustainable news, finance, business and design related topics both in the UK and around the world.
What has been your favourite business project to date?
My favourite business project to date would have to be our new initiative “Conscious Swap Shopping Events.”
We’ve had some great sponsors such as O2 as well as brilliant support from academic institutions and brands. Producing an event is a very competitive and difficult task, but we feel that we have all the elements to showcase and produce great work, so we’re very excited.
What have been the highlights of running your own business?
The highlights have been meeting new people and working on exciting projects. Being the driver and boss of what I’m doing to see my vision through is very fulfilling. I love it! I am extremely thankful.
What is the hardest part of running your own business?
The hardest part of running your own business is you have to be at the top of your game, you have to constantly innovate, have a team of great people that are adaptable and current.
You must know what’s happening in the markets, understand the trends and cycles of business, generating sales can be tough, but once your foot is in the door, you have to continue to deliver. It takes a lot of responsibility, handwork and dedication; it’s all about focus!
What has been your proudest business moment so far?
My proudest moment so far is being chosen as a UK Future Leader by the Power List publication and receiving my award at The House of Lords. I was honoured.
What, or who, inspires and motivates you?
My parents are my motivation. They have given me a fantastic up bringing which I am forever grateful. They have passed down their knowledge, support and advice onto me and this gives me belief, courage and motivation to do my best and work hard.
What does the future hold for Wakeup Campaign?
The future for Wakeup Campaign is to work on governmental projects here in the UK and abroad, tackling issues of work, employment, entrepreneurship, aid, humanity and our environment as a whole.
We’d like to work with key players in the sustainable arena and offer our expertise from a business and design perspective to get the results met in a way that was not envisioned.
What advice would you give to someone who is considering starting a social enterprise?
Understand what you want to do and achieve. Test your idea first, and gather feedback every information is valuable.
Begin to get to grips with your business model. Are their potential revenue streams? You must remember it is a business at the end of the day so you need to generate revenue.
Continue to have the drive and passion for what you are doing. People around you may not understand what you’re doing but don’t despair, find those like-minded people and build your network.
Viviane, is there anything else you’d like to share?
At Wakeup Campaign, we go by this quote by Ralph Waldo Emerson “What lies behind us and what lies before us are small matters compared to what lies within us.” Everything around you is created from man’s vision’s and dreams, so now we need to wake up and dream of a better future.
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Viviane Williams was interviewed by Octavia Goredema, founder of the Twenty Ten Club.
Octavia Goredema was awarded an MBE in the Queen’s Birthday Honours List in 2012 for her work at the Twenty Ten Club, supporting Black female entrepreneurs.
Do you have a question for Viviane? If so, please feel free to post a comment below: