InZone Agency, a youth led creative agency that undertakes consumer insights and strategy based work for the likes of Nike, Jordan, Foot Locker and Urban Outfitters has opened a multi-purpose studio in North West London for underserved and underrepresented young creatives.
The studio, which is completely free for 18-25 year olds, is located in Kentish Town and offers mentoring, therapy, studio time and educational workshops and learning programs. It also creates a hub where young people can collaborate and feel part of a like-minded community.
As an agency that specialises in youth culture, InZone felt it had a duty to give back to the community and help empower the next generation. Batuala Alexander, founder and CEO of InZone Agency, grew up in a disadvantaged area with a lack of opportunities for young people which has driven him to ensure the next generation in his community have the support they need to become the best versions of themselves.
Therefore, InZone Agency founded a sister community interest company called Creators House, a not-for-profit youth empowerment organisation that aims to help and support young creatives from underserved and underrepresented backgrounds, especially those from ethnic backgrounds, who are disproportionately more likely to be discriminated against and have more barriers to opportunities within the creative industry.
“As a young man of colour, growing up in a council flat in Kentish Town, I didn’t feel like I had many opportunities, or even anyone to look up and aspire to. I was fortunate that I found creativity and sport at a young age which helped to shape me as a man. But a lot of people from my background aren’t always that lucky. This has made me determined to ensure the next generation of underserved young people have more support and opportunities than I did. They deserve it, and as a community we need to see them succeed.”
Alexander chose to support young creatives specifically, because the industry is growing exponentially. According to UNESCO data, it represents 3% of world economy GDP and around 30 million jobs worldwide. By 2030, the creative economy could grow 40%, adding more than 8 million additional jobs. Yet facilities and equipment are expensive, communities are hard to build, and knowledge and mentoring is hard to access. This means there are lots of barriers that are stopping young creatives from the outset, especially those from less privileged backgrounds.
Creators House is a space to help tackle these issues, which is achieved through four pillars: Mentoring, Mental Health, a Creative Studio and Creative Communities.
Research suggests that 79% of young people view mentoring as a crucial aspect to having a successful career. Creators House has therefore developed a mentoring program that connects young people to industry leaders who will help them build a successful career. This is delivered as a small, personal mentoring program, but also shared via a podcast to reach a wider audience.
The mental health of young people has been significantly impacted by the COVID-19 crisis. Referrals are higher than ever before, with NHS waiting lists up to 18 months long. Creators House help to tackle this by offering free therapy to 18-25 year olds. The service has been so popular that Creators House recently had to bring another therapist on board to keep up with the demand.
Studio time can be very expensive, sometimes costing up to £100 an hour, with the purchase of equipment also running into the thousands. The multi-purpose studio space that Creators House has opened in Kentish Town (just a few roads away from where Alexander grew up) contains everything a young creative would need to start, build or elevate their creativity including cameras, microphones, lighting, stands, backdrops, music equipment, an iMac and more. As well as being an experiential space, Creators House also run educational workshops and learning programs which will help to forge creative communities.
Having a strong community and network is a big part of success, especially within the creative industry, but as Alexander experienced growing up, it is hard to build communities when you don’t have a starting point. Creators House aim to change that by being intentional about bringing young people together to collaborate and support each other.