ILE WA by WE ARE SOUL the National Billboard Campaign creating impact this Black History Month

Tiffannie Mersades

Tell us a bit about you, what you do and why you do it.

I am Tiffannie Mersades, a photographer and co-founder of the creative platform We Are Soul with Itunu Para-Mallam. Our team comprises 14 skilled and talented women with expertise in various fields including photography, directing, editing, and creative content production. At We Are Soul, our mission is to celebrate and showcase pioneering emerging talent in the realms of art and music through captivating storytelling and imaginative content. Moreover, we are dedicated to extending support to underserved youth communities in Nigeria. In this current year, we've already provided support to 335 individuals in the creative field, and we anticipate this number to grow further by year's end. As part of our agenda for Black History Month, we're excited to introduce our collaboration with JCdecaux for a national billboard campaign. This campaign will spotlight 41 creatives photographers, artists and poets from Africa and the Caribbean featured in our coffee table book and ILE WA initiative across 200+ Billboard locations in the UK for the whole month of October, this will be one of largest Black History Months campaigns in the UK.

How did you go about setting it up?

In 2016, we launched Soul Sessions, a live music event. Over the years, we have expanded our mission, now known as Soul Purpose, to not only support and empower musicians but also nurture creativity within the art and music community. Leveraging our expertise in creative production, we curate impactful storytelling series that allow creatives to share their authentic journeys, including the challenges they've faced. Our influence extends beyond the UK, reaching countries like Nigeria. Through our Soul Purpose campaign, we aim to assist young girls in Nigeria who have suffered from abuse or violence. In collaboration with QWEENS, we offer them a secure environment and financial support for their education, recognizing education as a powerful tool in enabling women and young people to lead better lives.

When did you have your first win and know you were onto something?

While every victory holds its own significance, Soul Sessions in 2015 stands out as our inaugural triumph. It marked our initial sold-out event, setting the precedent for all subsequent gatherings, which have consistently sold out. This enthusiastic response affirmed our belief that we were onto something special, as we're frequently queried about the next installment. While there's a plethora of live events across the UK, ours stands out for its meticulously curated experience. It not only offers a perfect setting for our audience to connect and interact but also provides a secure network for them to share their passion.

What's been the hardest thing about setting something up in the creative industry?

Securing consistent funding and establishing a reliable income stream remains one of the most challenging tasks. While opinions and feedback are abundant, adhering to our purpose and brand principles is crucial. It is essential that we remain steadfast in our focus, as it is this very focus that has brought us to where we are today.

What's your favourite thing about running your business?

Witnessing the enthusiasm of our community during our victories and having the privilege to celebrate it with them is truly remarkable. Our most recent billboard campaign not only showcased the efforts of our team but also highlighted the contributions of our global community. Experiencing this collective achievement has been an unparalleled joy.

Any tips or advice for anyone else who's looking to set up a community-based platform?

Don’t give up, ask for help, no risk no reward, shoot your shot and believe in yours.

And finally, anything we can do to support your business?

Kindly subscribe to our newsletter, spread the word, and join us at our events. Your participation is invaluable, especially if you're a creative - we welcome you to share your work with us. Remember, without our community of creatives, we wouldn't be where we are. If you're able, please consider contributing to our Soul Purpose campaign. Your donation will go towards supporting more girls in this important initiative.

About the Author

Tiffannie Mersades

At 28, Tiffannie is a dynamic digital creative entrepreneur and academic, holding degrees in Adult Nursing and Midwifery. She co-founded WE ARE SOUL, which has evolved from "Soul Sessions" into a versatile organization encompassing art, music, and philanthropy. Tiffannie's impact extends to renowned film photography and cultural initiatives, leaving an indelible mark on platforms like Selfridges and Google Art and Culture. With a vision for community, arts, culture, and music, Tiffannie aims to evoke significant change and create more space for creativity and development.

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