Since 2009, Tess McCabe has been the main face behind creative networking group, Creative Women’s Circle (CWC). She took the reins from original founder Dearne Herrenberg and for the past three years, has been juggling freelance graphic design work, motherhood and CWC.
Based in Melbourne, the group has steadily grown, both in numbers and output, and next month is celebrating its first Sydney-based event. Tess McCabe spoke to us about running CWC, what it offers for local creative women and how to potentially lend a hand and get involved.
What promoted the beginnings of Creative Women’s Circle? When, where and who?
I discovered the CWC upon relocating to Melbourne from Brisbane in 2006. Back then founder Dearne Herrenberg was bringing together a bunch of like-minded ladies regularly at a gallery cafe to discuss their work and support each other. It was a great way for independent creatives (like myself) to meet others in Melbourne and inspire each other in their own practices. When Dearne decided in 2009 to pursue other projects, I put my hand up to keep it going. I saw the value in continuing the CWC but with a slightly different format and knew there would be a wider audience in Melbourne who would love to be involved.
Can you tell us about the type of events that CWC has held in the past and what’s coming up?
We hold events roughly six times a year. The events usually consist of a guest speaker (or partnership) who is doing interesting things in their creative industry, giving a presentation about her career and creative life. Recent speakers have included Beci Orpin, Fiona Sweet, the ladies of Harvest Textiles, and the founders of NorthCity4. Around 60 women attend each event, and after the talk we have tea and cake. It is a nice, easy way to network and connect with others in the local creative community. On September 23 we’re excited to have Julia Pound of Fitzroy boutique Dagmar Rousset speak to us, and next month we’re holding our first event in Sydney.
How many people are involved behind-the-scenes and in what capacity?
I coordinate and organise all the events and do all the administrative work associated with the events, our website and the membership base. In short, I do a lot of emailing! At the events I often have hands-on help with setup and a photographer to capture the event (I’m always too engrossed in the speaker to remember to do that!), and I’m so grateful to know that when we have a special project, like the book Conversations With Creative Women that I published last year, people are always willing to help out in different ways. This year I have brought on contributors to write a variety of interesting and inspiring columns for our blog, covering topics such as social media, sustainable creative practice, creative women from history and many more. It’s been great to have so much original and diverse content to read every week.
As current coordinator of CWC, how do you balance CWC with your other responsibilities (graphic design work etc)?
Over the last few years, as a full-time independent graphic designer without ‘colleagues’, I found coordinating the CWC to be a nice way to keep connected to other people who were making their living in a similar way. As of this year, I have ceased working in graphic design for external clients, to concentrate on the CWC while I raise my young son. I’m sure many readers will agree, it’s hard to balance client demands with those of a baby! Concentrating on the CWC is a good way to maintain my connection to the creative community here, dabble in graphic design through website and publishing projects, and keep my brain ticking over in between choruses of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star…
How can people get involved in CWC?
There are a number of ways. In person you can attend our events, and online you can read our blog; talk to us on Twitter; or become a Full Member which allows you promote yourself via your own profile page on our searchable database, access podcasts and receive event ticket discounts. Of course, we are also interested in partnering with businesses who are aligned with our values and interests to help us grow and develop.
Do you have plans to extend to other states?
Yes! Our first Sydney event has been announced for Saturday 27 October, 2012. Sydneysiders have been contacting me about bringing an event up north for a few years now, and it is finally happening. The Sydney Event mailing list is up and running and subscribers will get all the details when they are released early next month. I’m very excited about the speaker for this event, as I have been a big fan of hers for a long time. Next year we hope to begin holding events in other cities and states, but I’m conscious of it being an organic process of growth. If there are readers who think there might be demand for such a thing in their city, I’d certainly be interested in hearing from them.
For more information about Creative Women’s Circle, head to creativewomenscircle.com.au.
Fiona Sweet event photos by Martina Gemmola.