• Ella Wood

Ambassador // Sarah Cain: Design Director

We caught up with Sarah to find out more about her story.

Explain a little about yourself and the role you play in the creative communications industry, e.g. how did you start out in the industry and what has your journey been?

I am a graphic designer. I studied at UniSA and was lucky enough to have a lecturer (John) who had a son in advertising. John recommended I interview for a junior role and I got the job. I was there for five years, in a very retail-based environment which taught me deadlines, time management and hard work, plus developed my computer and software skills. It was a great apprenticeship and I still call on everything I learned there daily.

For the next five years I worked in advertising agencies and design studios - big and small - before taking the leap into working for myself. Going out on my own was scary, but I am scrappy. I needed to work so I made it happen. This meant going out of my comfort zone and spruiking my skills, learning how to register a business, how to quote and invoice and do my taxes. The hardest thing to learn (and still is) was how to sell myself. Over the years, I have gained a loyal group of clients who I love working with and appreciate every day.

What do you enjoy most about what you do?

The problem solving. All jobs, whether basic or complex, have a problem that needs to be answered. This is not just the creative scope - within the job there will be other issues to resolve. Budgets, environmental aspects, opinions, personalities, delivery etc, all need to be solved to execute the brief. All the pieces need to come together for a successful outcome.

What challenges have you faced in the industry and how have you overcome them?

When I started in the industry there were a lack of women in creative roles. I would have loved a female mentor. I certainly found male mentors who were kind and generous with their knowledge, but I always felt a little locked out of the club. I thought that the way to overcome this was to work harder and longer hours than the men around me, but in the end, fostering relationships is important. Making the effort to push your way into the club a bit can help you to be seen and considered.

Having my voice drowned out. I worked at an agency where this was an everyday occurrence and became increasingly erratic and intimidating. It did inspire me to start my own thing and that was 12 years ago, so in the end I am thankful for the push I needed.

What advice would give to someone just starting out in the industry, particularly young women entering the creative community?

  • Find yourself a mentor and allow yourself to be mentored.

  • Don’t let your creativity be stifled by other people’s parameters. Allow yourself to think past boundaries to develop the creative fully. This doesn’t guarantee that the work will not be altered, but starting with an open mind will result in the best work. Whether or not it is used will come down to other factors possibly out of your control.

  • Work hard. Be prepared to go further than the next person. Do your best work every time.

  • Get paid what you are worth. Believe in your worth and be prepared to argue the case of your value.

  • Don’t allow yourself to be bullied.

  • Always be learning. Don’t allow yourself to be complacent. Always be open to new ways of doing things.

  • See the world. Expose yourself to different ideas and points of view. It will change everything about how you work.

How do you believe the industry could be more accommodating to women?

By including women in the conversation. Really listen to them. Be prepared to hear a different view and perhaps try things another way. Put women in senior roles - giving younger women something to aspire to.

Website: sarahcain.com.au

Instagram: @sarahcaininstagram

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