In Creative Conversation with Leo Young

Leo Young

Upon researching designer and Good Nugget founder Leo Young, I noticed that in his LinkedIn bio he is credited as a ‘Diversity Advocate’. While of course I had a general idea about what a Diversity Advocate encompasses, I Googled the specific definition just to grasp a more precise idea. The top result read the following; Diversity Advocates are committed to educating themselves and others about oppression, discrimination, privilege and other social justice issues, and combating these issues on a personal level. If we are to stay true to this definition then Leo Young is nothing just of a full fledged Diversity Advocate through and through. With a background in luxury and premium branding design, Young set up Good Nugget, initially as a side hustle, last year during the pandemic. It was a privilege to speak with him and gain an insight into the benefits that Good Nugget’s 12 week mentorship programme provides people aged 18-25. If you’re interested in applying for the programme, check out goodnugget.co.

Wishu: What motivated you to start Good Nugget over 18 months ago?

Leo: I really wanted to find a role where I could still design but for a more worthwhile purpose that gave back to the community. That’s how Good Nugget was born, from wanting to start an agency with a difference, one that puts people at its centre. By putting people first we change how we think about design and how it can help people. I didn’t want to operate as a normal agency which is where our social enterprise element came from. We use our time and profits to support the community i.e via the mentorship programme. So I spent the first 6 months really working  on the mentorship programme.

Wishu: How important were developing relationships and networking when it came to continuously learning and growing within the industry. 

Leo: I’ve been in the industry for a while and have a variety of experiences from working freelance to permanent employment. This means I have met a lot of different people during my experience working in London, Paris and Singapore. That’s my network foundation but networking is also about utilising your first network – your friends – and reaching out to see who they know. Then I will also reach out to like-minded businesses who have the same ethos as us – helping young people and wanting to revolutionize design. Being mindful about other great work that other people and businesses are doing in the field is crucial so we always keep an eye out to extend the desire to make a difference. 

Wishu: “Our vision is that every young person should have the opportunity to access a creative career, irrespective of their start in life.” – what spurred you to make this a motto for Good Nugget? What ignited this passion to encourage the equality of opportunities for young creatives from a diverse range of backgrounds. Root of the passion 

Leo: We wanted to create an environment that put culture and people first and this really breaks the mould of conventional design agency culture. That’s why we prioritise mentoring and collaboration. Quite a lot of businesses put profit and awards first rather than putting individuals at the centre of the company. We want to create a distinct culture which influences our design and how we recruit as well.

Wishu: Since the pandemic and in recent years in general are you noticing a positive move towards a more people-centred direction? Are you feeling optimistic for the world of design? 

Leo: I would love everybody to think more about educating consumers and people and if everybody was encouraging the industry. The need has always been there but we are only starting to think about individual experiences. These conversations should have happened a long time ago. If you look at fast fashion for example, that’s an example of a lack of education regarding design because it’s being manufactured so poorly and in such large masses we, consumers, think that a decent, sustainable piece of clothing is unaffordable when we should be prioritising quality over quantity. At the end of the day we are consumers, so of course commodity will always play a role in modern society but we need to be mindful about how we teach that element of design to designers and consumers. 

Wishu: Do you think most clients you work with acknowledge sustainability and cultural inclusion as necessary criteria or not yet? 

Leo: Yeah definitely. Our ethos is to work with smaller brands and empower them but we also have to be realistic. What we understand is that you can’t revolutionize the world overnight. Whenever we work with a client we discuss levels of ‘good’ credentials. For example, if you have all the budget in the world you can be super responsible or if you only have X amount you can meet good credentials level one. As in, we understand that being responsible is not easy but as long as clients are transparent with their consumers and aim to always be striving upwards it’s those conversations that really matter. 

Wishu: Could you tell us some of the most rewarding or even unique and interesting outcomes that you have witnessed from either mentor or mentee perspective from the workshops. 

Leo: We can get hundreds of applications and try to read all of them, 50 of which are then invited to a matchmaking panel. This is just a quick assessment to get to know the young people better. The best thing to watch is someone’s confidence grow and be able to talk fluently about their craft and evolve their knowledge of their industry. Helping someone be more confident in what they’re talking about is all we can ask for. We don’t promise jobs, although those things do tend to arrive, but what we want for the mentees is a better understanding of the industry and of course a growth in confidence to help them hone in on what their goals are. 

Wishu: Even just sending the application takes so much courage and providing people with that confidence is great. Some reviews from previous programme mentees read; 

“If 6 weeks is already having this positive impact, another 6 weeks will make you feel invincible.”

“It;s more than I expected. I would never be where I am now without the confidence to purse things if it wasn’t for my mentor Good Nugget”. 

Leo: When I read these I love that they then have the confidence to apply for a job. If we can give people that sense of empowerment that’s amazing. 

Wishu: Could you tell us more about what the programme entails, who qualifies, who can apply in case some of our readers want to do so? 

Leo: Our main aim is to change the creative industry because the same type of people from the same universities are more often than not the main people getting recruited for the same types of opportunities. That’s how we tackle social mobility and diversity within the recruitment aspect of the industry. For this reason we mostly look for people from low socioeconomic backgrounds aged 18-25. However, that doesn’t mean we are completely exclusive. We do get candidates over the age bracket messaging us and explaining their situation and we encourage them to apply if they meet our shared company goal. We also understand that application forms can be quite daunting and we take into consideration that some people may be unsure as to what to write. 

We then invite some to the matchmaking panel where we decide together who we take onto the programme and matchup to each mentor. Once they’re on the panel we offer induction training by a coached therapist – both mentors and mentees are trained. 

Throughout the 12 weeks, we encourage our mentors to meet with their mentees at least once every two weeks, that’s 6 sessions in total. However we find that most pairings end up meeting once a week. 

We also offer mini master classes by volunteers we call “make it happen educators” who are industry experts who want to come in and host them. On this current programme we have “how to build confidence in your creativity” “how to utilise social media as a creative” and other online masterclasses. 

Halfway through the programme we host a mixer so that mentees can network with all of the mentors and the other mentees. The end of the twelve weeks also sees a showcase of what the mentor/mentee pairings have been working on, some have been on shoots with their mentors for example. 

Wishu: What elements do you look for in a mentor? 

Leo: We call out to several different agencies we already have relationships with. Whether a mentor has worked for four months or fourty years within the industry, they regardless already have so much knowledge to share with someone who is at the very beginning of their journey. Mentors aren’t teachers or coaches so we encourage them not to tell the mentees what to do but rather bestow their own experiences and look back on it and think how it can help others grow in their experience. 

Wishu: From a creative perspective how evolutionary are your 20s and what advice would you or do you in general personally give to creatives in their late teens and early twenties in terms of developing their craft and connections? 

Leo: It would be easier to tell my younger self just to be confident and passionate but the conversations we really need to have are ones showing how to embrace differences. These conversations really have evolved in the past five years. Being proactive and showcasing initiative is also very important – don’t be afraid to slide into someone’s DMs and tell them you admire their work! Also don’t be afraid to ask for advice from people you aspire to. At Good Nugget we try to have an open door policy and get back to anyone who asks us questions. 

Links to connect with Leo 

website  |  linkedin  |  facebook |  instagram  |  twitter

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