FEMALE NARRATIVE FOUNDERS FRANZI KLEIN AND TIJANA TAMBURIC LEARNED A LOT FROM THEIR EXPERIENCES IN THE MODELING INDUSTRY. AFTER MANY YEARS IN THE BUSINESS, THEY TOOK THOSE LESSONS AND STARTED A COLLECTIVE IN SUPPORT OF WOMEN IN THE CREATIVE INDUSTRIES. THEY FOUNDED THE COMPANY IN JANUARY 2017 AND HAVE SINCE EXTENDED THEIR NETWORK TO INCLUDE A COMMUNITY OF UNIQUE WOMEN WITH DIVERSE INTERESTS AND TALENTS. RANGING FROM HEALERS AND ACTIVISTS TO POETS AND PHOTOGRAPHERS, EACH MEMBER'S PERSONALITY CONTRIBUTES SOMETHING DIFFERENT TO THE GROUP. WHILE FN WAS FOUNDED IN LONDON, ITS MEMBERS LIVE AROUND THE WORLD, ISTANBUL, MUNICH, PARIS, NEW YORK, AND BERLIN ARE JUST A FEW OF THE PLACES THE MEMBERS CALL HOME.
THE FOUNDERS FOCUS ON CREATING A WELCOMING, RESPECTFUL AND REFRESHINGLY ENJOYABLE ENVIRONMENT. WITH THESE VALUES IN MIND, WE SPOKE WITH FRANZI AND TIJANA ABOUT THEIR TAKE ON FEMINISM AND THE NECESSITY OF PERSEVERANCE FOR YOUNG ENTREPRENEURS.
dimanche What is Female Narratives? How does your collective work?
Franzi FN is an all female collective and creative agency that tells authentic stories for brands. We work collaboratively on projects with a range of creative talent from our collective.
Tijana What a collective means to us is that everyone in the collective has a visual presence and the ability to have a profile online where they get to describe themselves however they want - that was always an issue with had with our agencies. Utilizing the talents, passions, skills and special individual narratives of these women we create, produce and execute projects, brand partnerships and collaborations across a fresh and dynamic range of mediums. We have an integrated creative agency that runs parallel to the collective. We often also operate as a casting network for talent when a client comes around. We are better and stronger and more visible as a unit than individually.
dimanche How did your background in modelling lead you to create Female Narratives?
F Our combined experience in the fashion industry extends over 20 years . While working within the industry, we discovered many faults, especially in the authenticity of content and gender imbalance in management. Despite the flaws, we met so many inspiring women over the years that we wanted to be part of this project. They were all talented, interesting human beings and not just pretty faces.
T There was a point when I was dropped by my US and UK modelling agencies, the latter which I’d been with for 9 years. Modeling had been the center of my adult life and I felt extreme frustration with the fashion industry. I had so much more to offer than the measurements of my hips or my number of Instagram followers, but my agency had not been promoting or even considering these qualities. I was a writer, editor, publisher and explorer. There’s no agency in the world where girls can write a bio about themselves. I knew there were brands I could not just model for but collaborate with to create something beautiful. I knew there were other women like me. Many things in the fashion industry are frowned upon, but no one has offered an alternative way for women to collaborate on campaigns.
dimanche Why did you decide to extend your collective beyond models?
F In the beginning it was mostly models because those were our friends at the time and they were people we wanted in the collective. We thought models were the people who needed the support the most, but then we realized we had the chance to turn FN into something much bigger. Whether photographers, designers, etc., we wanted young and emerging artist to have the ability to connect with people with more experience.
T If we only included models, that would be a modeling agency. The whole point of why we started FN was because of our frustration with the modeling industry and the fact that models are so segregated from other talent and other creative industries. It would have been contradictory. Not to mention, model agencies for street casting “cool girls” already exist. We didn’t want to do that. Also for our work as a creative agency, we didn’t want to have to outsource from other people. We wanted to be able to pull from our network of producers, photographers, writers, and stylists.
F We just produced an event where all staff and talent were girls from our collective.
dimanche How do you practice feminism?
T We still shave our armpits and wear mini skirts. We believe in feminism as equality of the sexes. We know this may seem hypocritical as we are an all-female business but frankly there aren't enough women at board level in the advertising industry so until that happens, and we are invited into to the table, we will have to create our own.
F We don’t hate men.
T We are an all-female business because there aren't enough women at board level in the advertising industry so until that happens, and we are invited into to the table, we will have to create our own space.
dimanche Have you spoken to your parents or members of an older generation about gender equality? How does their mindset differ from yours?
T We were both fortunate to have parents and even grandparents who always said we could be anything we wanted and actively encouraged us to do so. They lived through all sorts of injustices but it never changed their opinion about what women could and should do.
dimanche Who are your biggest role models? What do they teach you about what kind of woman you want to be?
F My biggest role model is my mother, because she raised 3 children whilst running her own talent agency from home while my dad was often away for work. She is never judgemental towards people and meets everyone with an open mind . She accepts them as they are without wanting to change them - that’s the sort of woman I want to be too.
T I would have to say my mother also, but this is a very recent revelation. It's only as I've gotten older that I've come to fully appreciate and understand that my mom is actually Superwoman.
F A lot of women we surround ourselves with now are our role models. All the girls in our collective are role models for us.
T We are so proud of the projects they do. There’s stuff they do I could never do. Mam Sham runs a comedy and food supper club. It’s only about nine months down the line for them and ASOS and Puma already asked them to do their holiday parties.
dimanche What would you tell your 16 year old self prior to entering the industry?
F To not care about what other people think and to just do things and not think about it too much
T This too shall pass.
dimanche Where do you see Female Narratives in the future?
F We’ve only done one big event together, but we want to do more networking events for our collective to get them to meet each other as much as possible, to cross-collaborate, cross-communicate
dimanche Where do you see it in 5 years?
T We hope to be working with bigger clients to help them tell female-led stories, but also still be working on great creative content with new brands that we believe in, especially ethical brands.
F We want to have our own internal FN events well established by then and even open to the public, like a mini conference for women in creative industries. We also have some other great plans up our sleeves that we can’t share yet!
dimanche What has been the most challenging aspect of starting Female Narratives?
T I think with any start up it’s believing in yourself. You’re new to the game so a lot of people will look down at you and not take you seriously. You might look at one of your big competitors and think ‘why don’t I just work for them instead? It would be so much easier’.
And getting things done is harder, because you are doing it all yourself, but in the end that’s where the satisfaction lies. Going home at the end of the project and knowing no one can take it away from you.
F Just starting with nothing in general is quite a big step, having a co-founder and sharing the load is massive help. Even very boring, small things can be a challenge if you haven’t done them before so it’s also been, and still is, massively helpful to have mentors in the industry.
dimanche Can you give an example of a project that highlights the collaborative nature of Female Narratives?
F Well every project we do wouldn’t be possible without collaboration. We could take our most recent event as an example. We needed a press officer so we brought Bel on board, but we also wanted to create a film piece to be screened at the event so we called Girls on Film. Together with ex-NASA scientists we created a short film. We then asked 6 of our girls to help us host the evening and manage the running of the event, including photography and videography. We worked with about 10 different girls on that evening alone.
dimanche What is a lesson you learned from a particular member of Female Narratives?
T I was on a shoot in Croatia and the make-up artist was really nice, super chatty and friendly and we got on well. She was also amazing at her job and I was thinking about asking her to join FN. I invited her to lunch and we sat in a windy cafe by the beach. I told her my story and she told me hers: a truly heartbreaking one about abuse and bulimia, ache and not feeling good enough. She had recently discovered self-love and was actively practicing it. She isn’t just a make-up artist, none of us are just our occupations, and I loved her for that. Her name is Megan and she recently worked on a campaign with us where she was the face of the brand and talked about love and acceptance and how make-up should be about creativity and fun and not about hiding behind a mask of someone you are not. Megan shares her insights with her 60K instagram followers and so I learn from her every day.
F I’ve learnt a lot from each and every girl we’ve worked with. They are all so different and talented in what they do, but in particular Tijana as my co-founder is a huge inspiration to me as she is incredibly motivated and confident with everything she does.
dimanche How do you see Female Narratives having an impact on younger generations?
T I hope it inspires girls that they can do and be anything they want to. That we live in the age of the freelancer and the startup and that doesn’t have to be scary or lonely, that there are support systems for them.
F We want to encourage girls in the creative industry to be fearless and just go out there and do what it is they want to do and we hope that offering a support network like FN helps with that.
dimanche Where do you see the future of advertising? How do you want to be a part of changing the depiction of women in the industry?
T I believe the future is happening right now. Advertising agencies are realizing that their structure isn’t working anymore and are trying to shift. It’s hard for the companies that have already been around for so long, so the future is really in the startups that are now operating on a new structure - like us. Sometimes it’s about not having a physical office and being able to scale your business to reach millions, utilising new tech etc.
Everyone knows that women have the largest consumer power - we do the shopping. Which is why things are now changing to see more female CEOs as the heads of huge e-commerce platforms. There are still comparatively less women as partners at advertising companies and we would like to prove that is not necessary anymore.
F We want to show that a room full of women can come up with a campaign with a result that’s different, new, and perhaps, even, better?
dimanche How do you find larger communities (like brands, companies, etc.) that align with Female Narrative’s values? How do you engage with them?
T We have a list of companies in mind that align with our values that are our ‘dream’ clients, but due to the wonder that is social media, some clients that are perfect for us, that we may have not connected with otherwise, have been finding us. We have also been working well with referral. Our client tells another potential clients and they call us. As a start-up we are still building our portfolio of work and working with like-minded creative, often female, founders and designers to help them communicate their message.
dimanche Tell us about a few of the members of the collective? How do their talents differ?
F The idea is that we should be able to create any project with the right combination of girls, so we are trying to cover every skill. When we do a shoot we have photographers, videographers, graphic designers, hair and makeup artists, stylists, producers, retouchers and a range of talent. We can also create immersive events; we have girls who can produce female film nights, or female supper clubs.
dimanche In what ways has London provided you inspiration or support in your pursuits?
T London is a great centralised melting pot of creativity and a great spot from which to connect with the rest of the world. Having both modelled here for so many years it’s where we have our widest net of contacts in the industry.
F Coming from a small town in the middle of Germany, London has inspired me everyday in everything I do for the past 6 years. There are endless opportunities and you just have to find them and follow them.
T A walk, a sunny bench and a book, followed by a cosy dinner with friends.
F Roaming vintage markets followed by a Sunday roast with a big group of friends.