It is so great to meet young black creative’s who are carving a path in their fields. Young people who have identified gaps and have taken the plunge to go after their dreams. One such risk taker is Lusanda Worsley. A fierce woman who definitely knows what she wants and is moving boldly in that direction. I recently listened to her TEDx Talk where she spoke on diversity in the Advertising industry. She is inspiring on all levels. We came together as creative minds where I directed her Empire promo video that represents the relaunch of her company. I interviewed her on her plans and vision.
Nthabiseng Mosieane: Let’s talk about Empire. To someone who is not in the industry, tell me what it is that you do and how your company EMPIRE is structured?
Lusanda Worsley: EMPIRE started off and remains one of Africa’s first and only black female driven experiential marketing agency. We created customized and unique experiences for each brand in a way that really resonate’s with consumers using key consumer insights. Empire has now expanded and taken the leap from just an experiential agency to an ‘Innovations Agency’. Empire is now more than just an advertising agency, it’s an innovation platform. Part agency, part consultancy and part business developers. We are the modern age of advertising that innovate brands in an ever-changing world. Everything we do, we believe in challenging the status quo. We think differently, we act differently and we create innovative and unique solutions that change mindsets. This creative platform is a for young African creatives and entrepreneurs to shine talents and grow their empires. Based on a shared economy model, we have a pool of different freelancers and agencies, we called them EMPIRE Innovators, that we collaborate with to customize and innovate brands from app developers to wine makers, film production to singers, experiential specialist to creative strategist and publicists. The list is endless. Whatever you need to innovate your brand – that’s what we have. “I stand as one, but come as ten thousand”
NM: With the relaunch of EMPIRE, what are the key differences between the old and the new?
LW: A year into running my own experiential agency and being labeled as a female driven, events and PR agency I started noticing a trend that I had been experiencing at every agency and brand that I have worked on, not just from me but from my peers. Sadly and bluntly put it is the discrimination and misrepresentation of young African creatives. From being a face of something you don’t really believe in, creative ideas taken advantage of, and not being credited for your own brilliant ideas that keep the company sustained. I had to reflect on the real reason why I started my agency:
- For EMPIRE to be a platform for young African creatives to shine their talents.
- For creatives and entrepreneurs to build an EMPIRE of their own.
It was then when I had decided to transform EMPIRE into an innovation, and that is the key difference.
NM: Who are the Innovators?
LW: Our database have a specialized pool of innovators that form part of the EMPIRE collective. A wide and beautiful mixture of young African creatives that are specialists within their own fields.
NM: Your promo is quite captivating, a black and white theme that has incorporated individuals from all skill sets. What is the significance behind the concept?
LW: The concept was to create something visually appealing that represented EMPIRE in a unique and innovative way. A piece to launch the new EMPIRE and crush all the stereotypes of what EMPIRE was labeled as. All elements shown in the commercial are a visual representations, powerful, bold and in your face – to act as a metaphor to what we are and what we stand for. All elements shown in the commercial are a visual representations of growth, power and strength.
NM: You are a young black woman in Cape Town. What challenges do you face? Would you agree that Johannesburg would be more of a better working landscape for someone such as yourself versus Cape Town?
LW: I’m not going to smile and pretended that it’s been an easy ride starting a business – let alone in Cape Town. As much as Cape Town Is my home and I do love this place, it is extremely difficult to get into certain circles that you need to do business in. In my opinion, people are extremely clique-y and keep a tight community within their own circles and are very hesitant to allow any new people in at all. Because I do majority of my business in Johannesburg, I have noticed the difference when doing business there. Again in my opinion, Johannesburg is the city that expresses more support for black-owned business, female and start-ups to thrive.
NM: If you could change anything about the industry what would it be?
LW: I would love to see more equally African owned and run advertising agencies in South Africa but specifically Cape Town.
NM: What is the future for Empire and what is the legacy you would like to see built?
LW: It would be the restructure of EMPIRE into an innovations agency and to grow the creative space in South Africa and Africa on an international scale. That is the legacy I want to leave behind.
EMPIRE exists on three different platforms that will be integrated in the near future.
Platform 1 – Innovations Agency.
Platform 2 – Creative Consultants, Strategist for creatives and entrepreneurs to innovate and grow them as a brand within Africa and on an international platform.
Platform 3 – Business Developers, An in-depth and experiential curated networking platform for creatives and entrepreneurs to get to the next level of their EMPIRE.
LinkedIn: Lucy Worsley
Instagram: Empire_exp / Lusanda_worsley