WeLearn Workshop #2: How Creative Media Inspires Impact with Alexa Gantous & Ochuko Akpovbovbo
This week’s WeLearn event featured not one, but two incredibly dynamic individuals who are making strides in the realms of social impact and creative media: Alexa Gantous and Ochuko Akpovbovbo.
Our first speaker, Alexa Gantous
Our first speaker, Alexa Gantous, is a creative brand strategist focused on eco-consulting. Her practice bridges design, business, and community building as tools for cultivating ecological innovation. Alexa’s motivation to make a difference in the world of sustainability stemmed from a singular question: when you say you are going to throw something “away,” where is “away”? Her curiosity could not be satisfied without an answer, so she began researching into this sphere. Unsettled by the shocking statistics that were revealed, Alexa was on a conquest to turn this into an opportunity for innovation.
“Always be open to pivoting. Sometimes, the best ideas are the ones that come when we are willing to let go of limiting beliefs.” — Alexa Gantous
Alexa’s unique experiences have been instrumental in driving her forward. From traveling through the Peruvian Amazon to working with Lauren Singer, a zero-waste environmental activist, she is constantly working to understand what she wants to see in the world on a personal level. During Alexa’s time as Communications Strategist for Parley for the Oceans, one of her biggest collaborations was with Adidas. By allocating efforts to creating sports jerseys made of plastic found in oceans around the world, Alexa managed to further the sustainability conversation to athletes, soccer clubs, fans, and so many more individuals. But she asked herself, “how can I amplify this even more?” And just like that, LitterRally was born. LitterRally, an epic mobile trash pickup dance party that Alexa spearheads, is a movement that aims to address our global waste crisis. However, with the world engulfed in the COVID-19 pandemic, Alexa had to pivot and strategize how she could continue to have an impact virtually. Thus, her latest project Trash Talk Studio, a podcast empowering humans and brands to embody their environmental aspirations, was born. Overall, Alexa demonstrates that as the world constantly changes, creating impact is a journey that requires us to try new things and be open to pivoting.
Our second speaker, Ochuko Akpovbovbo
Our second speaker, Ochuko Akpovbovbo, is a 22-year-old Nigerian entrepreneur and the Founder & CEO of Parachute Media — a media brand that creates content and experiences for women and nonbinary people of color, with the goal of helping them reclaim their narratives. Ochuko is also an Incoming Assistant Brand Manager for Adidas Originals and works to help diverse founders build their companies through her role at Envision Accelerator.
“Entrepreneurship can have a very capitalist connotation. Take a lot of these good innovative frameworks and rework them.” — Ochuko Akpovbovbo
Parachute Media blossomed from Ochuko’s desire to create a media brand that looks at humans as multidimensional. Extracting from her personal story, growing up in Nigeria, Ochuko was mostly surrounded by Black people. So, naturally, when she moved abroad, she experienced a huge culture shock. Through social media, newsletters, events, a virtual community space, and so many other platforms, the intention of Parachute was to further the representation of diverse individuals. In order to create the most impact, Ochuko firmly believes that one needs to invest in their team and, more importantly, to foster creativity. She has successfully implemented numerous initiatives in her company to reach this goal: mentorship pairings called “Parachute Pals,” onboarding brainstorms that allow new members to put their ideas to paper, reframing social impact, and tracking progress with OKRs. Particularly, it was fascinating to hear the emphasis Ochuko places on the Myer-Briggs personality test. She uses her understanding of her team members’ personality types to form effective project groups in order to maximize collaboration and interpersonal connection. Thus, Ochuko showed us that there are so many ways to foster creativity in order to create an impact on both team members and society.
We concluded our event with our favorite: The Q&A session. As always, our WeLearn community never fails to dig deep and ask insightful questions. Whether it was about their definition of success or advice for up-and-coming entrepreneurs, Ochuko and Alexa saw eye-to-eye. In fact, Ochuko even requested Alexa to be interviewed for Parachute Media! Interesting how two women in separate industries come together to communicate the same values. Both Alexa and Ochuko illustrated that social impact does not have to be limited to a specific industry or role; it is possible for all of us to innovate and foster creativity in something we are passionate about.
Hungry for more? Take a look at this Social Impact Resource Guide we created for you!
We hope this article provided an insight into different ways to consider social impact. To get involved with WeLearn, mark your calendars for our next event on Wednesday, February 23rd for a panel featuring 3 amazing women on Self-Developing a Co-Op and Internship! 💚