Female Narratives: Girls Brought Together By Passion
Founded by Tijana Tamburic and Franziska Klein, Female Narratives is an integrated creative agency that operates using a collective of female freelancers to connect brands to real women and real stories - directly. They create, produce and execute content focusing on fresh narratives, dynamic strategies and unconventional mediums collaborating across all aspects with proactive, inspiring and creative women.
Tijana and Franziska: tell our readers about Female Narratives. What is it?
Female Narratives is an all-female creative agency and collective with over 100 creative freelance women from around the world, but mostly based in London. That’s the technical phrasing but really we are a broad group of friends that collaborate on cool passion projects that we are lucky enough to work on!
Where did the inspiration come from?
Franzi and I both have been modelling for a combined 15 years (!) and so we saw a lot of flaws in the industry from our side in terms of inauthenticity. When we went to speak with friends who owned or worked at large ad agencies we saw that from that side it wasn’t much better. There was no streamlined communication system that worked directly between the creatives/talent and the brand itself. There were a lot of agencies along the way all taking a percentage and changing the story until what you got was a very expensive and inauthentic product. It was our dream to try to offer projects that we believed were 100% authentic and true and harnessed amazing creatives to work together.
Even if we could just make 1 project ourselves it would prove that it was possible. 2.5 years later and almost 30 projects later we’re pleased to say it’s working!
You say "We are not just a pretty face": what did you mean by this?
I guess this comes from our experience as models, that because we are models we aren’t allowed to be smart enough to do other things. When I went to LA to model I was explicitly told by my agency there not to mention the fact that I had a university degree. Which astounded me. Modelling agencies, in general, are a platform on which you can view only the visual images of girls. Their faces and bodies. It mentions usually nothing about them as people and any of their other interests. We really wanted to set out to do the opposite and show all our girls with bios and visuals of their work. If a girl happened to be a model, we wanted to show her for everything else she was interested in.
What are the difficulties you have encountered in creating the agency?
When you’re totally new it’s of course hard to win clients and budgets. There are so many companies that open and are all talk and then suddenly they fold within 6 months or nothing ever really becomes of them - so it’s hard to blame brands for sitting on the fence and waiting to see what happens.
That teething period can be difficult but you just have to reach out to your community and see who you know and can connect to and ask them to take a chance on you. Once you prove yourself they will work with you again and again. You also don’t have to pin yourself down to exactly what you wanted at the beginning forever. Your plans are allowed to shift and change as you learn more about how your company is growing.
When we began we wanted as many women as possible to join our collective, but we soon realised that this didn’t really make sense - as we would have all these wonderful women but not enough work to go around. So we shifted and decided that around 100 was going to be our maximum and that every year we would review our collective and see who maybe hasn’t been involved and ask them if this is something they’d still like to be in. Our collective is strong and they all really help and support each other, I don’t think this would have been to case if we just grew and grew.
You have connected so many brilliant female creatives: how did you find them and were you looking for a particular audience?
At first they were all our friends and collaborators whose work we saw and admired. Then those friends told some of their friends and then through our Instagram we got a lot of interest. Which I think makes sense because we wanted to build something that WE would be the first members of. We couldn’t find anything that resembled this and we wanted to be a part of it. So it seems there are other women who feel the same way, which is great!
We now get e-mails every day about women enquiring about collaborating or joining and we would love to have them all but as I mentioned above, we have to be selective so that we stay relatively small. My selecting criteria literally goes like this: Can I envision a project that we could work together on with the client or prospective clients we have and the stories we like to tell? If the answer is Yes then lets do it!
It seems like Female Narratives is not just a collective that supports women in the work environment, but also in their health, lifestyle and business choices. Just lately you've organised the first FN yoga retreat in Puglia, Italy. What did the event involve? Do you think it was important to focus on health - and not just work - and if yes, why?
We had the most blissful time at Masseria Pettolecchia La Residenza in Puglia and we are very grateful to the staff there for hosting us so well. We wanted to create a ‘DIY’ retreat just using our friends and focusing on experiential exchange rather that fiscal exchange. Health is the most important thing we have, without health we can’t work or create or do anything, so sometimes we really need to remind ourselves that that comes first.
You travel very often, both for leisure and work: do you both have a daily ritual to keep yourself grounded?
We both actually love to do yoga which is a great way to re-centre yourself and zone out from work and everything else for an hour or so. We really need it. Whilst you’re balancing, twisting and breathing you don’t have the space to think about anything else but your body and your breath. Aside from yoga and the occasional chilled weekend with friends we’re pretty much working nonstop!
What has been the biggest achievement with Female Narratives and where do you see yourself in the next year?
Our biggest achievement is actually always in the little ways we see our collective thriving - even without us. When I get tagged in a post about a project some of our girls are doing together, or a shoot they’ve pulled together themselves - all just because we facilitated them meeting and trusting each other - is really amazing.
When we come together, especially to support each other - someone’s play or exhibition or talk - it’s really beautiful to see. Our big projects only come together because we all collaborate so well. When we get feedback from a project and people tell us what it means to them - this is a really great moment. Our biggest project yet is coming out in September and we have many more in the pipeline!