Design Week Portland is where it all began.
Design Week Portland is a week-long, city-wide series of programs exploring the process, craft, and practice of design across all disciplines. DWP’s mission is to increase appreciation and awareness about design and its far-reaching effects on matters of cultural and social relevance including community development, education systems, and the economy. This year’s festival takes place April 6-13. You should go!
FTW (For the Women) Mentoring Program
Last year, in 2018, I signed the women of Blue Collar up for a mentoring program born of Design Week Portland called FTW (For the Women). This program was created under the leadership of Swift Agency. A whole slew of partners joined Swift to get this program underway. 17 female-forward businesses, professional groups, and employee networks launched FTW: For the Women, a six-month mentorship and accountability program. 150 women were strategically placed into small teams led by 25 mentors. Together they tackled challenges, spoke frankly, created step-by-step plans for career goals, and held each other accountable.
As part of the program, we each had to bust down the Gorge to Portland once a month to meet with our groups. This was good for a number of reasons, but we especially loved building relationships with women that might have otherwise been out of our network.
The FTW Mentoring program included:
- Setting a six-month goal
- Working on our professional confidence
- Noting wins of the month
- Getting unstuck with creative process
- Building our network
- Taking feedback
- Getting smart with negotiation
- Motivating others with leadership
Individual Growth Experiences
Each member of the Blue Collar team walked away with growth experience that has directly impacted their careers.
April took an Improv class at Brody Theatre that was recommended to her to help her think on her feet by Swift’s Chief Strategy Officer, Meredith Chase. Jaime took a Presenting Work with Confidence course by Mule Designs that helped her keep cool as a cucumber in situations that would otherwise cause sweaty palms. Elle resolved to growing her writer-brain network and has since shared coffee and conversation with inspiring minds like Jessica Shulsinger and Spencer Foxworth. Meredith set goals to ease herself back into more creative work and taking on more freelance projects. She’s since started doing more copywriting and taking on more exciting work thanks to the encouragement of her mentor, Britta Larson, Account Director at Swift.
Since we were all in different mentoring groups, we did our best to keep a conversation going about the program and how we were doing with our respective challenges. Monthly mountain bike rides seemed the most Hood River “work hard/play hard” way to keep each other accountable. Besides riding Dog River and Timberline to Town, we also made a point of recording live footage of the discussion that ensued post-ride.
Growth on a Grand Scale
Not only did we each experience personal growth, but we were positively saturated in success. Many of the women in the program made moves to new, more challenging positions—some even to places far beyond the Pacific Northwest. Many secured much-deserved raises, earned more responsibilities, and some even worked with their team leadership to create new positions altogether! Even after the program ended, we keep in touch on a FTW Slack channel where we share wins, frustrations, networking opportunities, and everything in between.
FTW (For The Women) Partners
Thanks to all the local female-positive empowering organizations who supported FTW
- AiA Portland Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Keen All In
- Ladies Get Paid
- Ladies Night PDX
- League of Women Designers
- The Nightwood Society
- The Perlene
- Portland Monthly
- Stream PDX
- Suitcase Laundry
- Wieden + Kennedy 51%
- Women’s Center for Leadership
- Women Who Code Portland
We are grateful for the women who donated their time and expertise to FTW. Thank you for stepping up to help others.
- Michelle Battista, Proprietress, The Nightwood Society
- Marni Beardsley, Director of Art Production, Wieden+Kennedy/W+K 51%
- Jennifer Birk, Consultant, Propeller
- Mary Blalock, Career Coach, Ladies Night PDX
- Patty Brebner, Director Wieden + Kennedy, Wieden+Kennedy/W+K 51%
- Becca Cavell, Architect, BORA/ AIA Portland Committee on Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion
- Meredith Chase, VP of Client Strategy, Swift
- Kelly Clarke, Executive Senior Editor, Portland Monthly
- Shiyuan Deng, Senior UX Designer, Nike/Women Who Code Portland
- Kate Dumbrell, Executive Producer, Swift
- Meagan Geer + Emily Steen, Meagan Geer Designs, League of Women Designers
- Amanda Grisham, Apparel Designer, Adidas
- Cat Hyland, Group Creative Director, Swift
- Jenene Larson, Business Development, The Nightwood Society/Women’s Center for Leadership
- Kiki Littlestar, Owner and Founder, The Perlene
- Nic Porter, Founder and Project Coordinator, Suitcase Laundry
- Kati Reardone, Global Product Director, Nike / Proprietress, The Nightwood Society
- Christina Rosalie, Head of Brand, Vacasa
- Christina Barry-Simmons, Ladies Get Paid
- Tyesha Snow, Director and Co-Creator, Stream PDX
- Liz Valentine, CEO and Co-Founder, Swift
- Britta Larson, Account Director, Swift