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Open to Change, Converse and Dazed
Samuel Ross leads the Open to Change mentorship session with the All Star team

How to turn your creativity into a business, according to Samuel Ross

As part of the Open To Change initiative in partnership with Converse, young designers, artists, creatives, and filmmakers are mentored to make their creative ideas a sustainable business reality – watch the first session here

Are you a young artist, filmmaker, designer, or creator at the beginning of your career, at the crossroads of making your creative ideas a sustainable, commercially sound reality? As part of the 2021 Open to Change initiative in partnership with Converse, A-Cold-Wall* founder Samuel Ross leads a mentorship opportunity of a lifetime. Namely, empowering a new generation of creatives from across their respective industries to make their creative ideas their livelihood. 

Ross – a longterm Converse collaborator – brings a roster of young artists, designers, filmmakers, and changemakers under his wing. This culminates in a series of workshops led by Ross and his network of peers and collaborators, designed to develop the ideas of the mentees across various themes.  It’s all part of Open to Change: a Converse partnership fostering opportunities, education, and representation within the creative industry and emphasising underrepresented communities.

Touching on fashion, design, technology, and more, each of the sessions offers space for mentorship, inspiration, and knowledge exchange to transcend the creative industry’s biggest challenges. Each session is also being filmed – and we’re premiering the first one right here. 

In this first episode, critical thinking and creative entrepreneurship is the main theme. Ross leads and introduces us to the All Star team and their respective businesses and ideas that they hope to make commercially sustainable. Supporting Ross in the mentorship session is Alix Rustey, senior menswear buying manager at SSENSE, who he brings in to shed light on what actually scaling a fashion business means. Ross and Rustey have worked together for more than 11 seasons, paralleling the rise of A-Cold-Wall* to become the fashion and streetwear phenomenon it is today with so many successful campaigns and collections to date. As Ross says, the focus is on “creative directors and designers being at the forefront of business development for the next generation of the fashion industry”.

“It’s important for the next generation to know that any creative idea can become a business,” he says in a statement. “By being exposed to leaders from across the industry you develop your knowledge and start to understand there’s a red thread. All the creatives who are changing the game work hard, understand collaboration and community and never give up when they hit barriers in the road – knowing that when they started out it was down to them to shape their own futures.”

The All Stars line-up engaging in the Open To Change mentorship sessions include stylist and agency head Coco Mell, visual artists Fon and Fa, designer and label founder Reece Yeboah, photographer and filmmaker Nathan Clement, artist and designer Jaimus Tailor, photographer Dijby Kebe, and environmental scientist and advocate Tiziana Zen. In the film, we hear from the All Stars on how they plan to evolve their practice and their next business moves. We also learn about developing a fashion business using sustainable materials and discuss themes such as the role of storytelling in fashion, combining art and business without ‘selling out’, and recognising value in creative work.

In a closing statement, Ross shares some final pieces of advice on the importance of planning and a calendar for commercial activity. He says it helps creatives plan their next creative and business moves deftly and have 2-3 year goals. Ross also concludes on looking to artists and creators in your generation or the generation above you to use as a model or partial road to follow: “their snail trail is often the blueprint”. Planning and forecasting shrewdly ultimately means you can pursue the more creative ventures you have the passion for longterm.

Watch the first session above, and keep an eye out for the next Open to Change mentorship session with Samuel Ross. You can also explore the Open to Change digital hub now live on Dazed.