Can you tell us a bit about yourself and your background and what inspired you to set up “The Time is Now” series of events?
My name is Esther Mogada and I am a multidisciplinary creative artist based in Belfast. I am mixed race, of Irish and Ugandan descent. During my teenage informative years, I grew up in the Middle East and moved backed to Belfast about ten years ago. I would say that my background involves a mixture of many different things. I started off studying Fashion and Textile Design in the University of Ulster, specializing in printed textiles. From that, my colleague and I created our own fashion brand called “Inspire the Sound”.
“Inspire the Sound” is a Streetwear/Menswear brand and we would consider ourselves to be a DIY brand. The focus is on creating art through our garments, as well as Textiles, and we see our clothing as practical, but also as individual pieces of art. We are currently rebranding our company and will be releasing fresh content next year.
I would also say that my passions in life are music, filmmaking, and event’s curation. I have always been drawn to organizing and hosting events, with the aim of bringing people together. Being curious in listening to other people’s background and stories has helped us realize the direction I want to take. I have always felt that within the creative industry, there hasn’t necessarily been a space for me and that I didn’t fit into the local arts scene. This compelled me to create my own space and this is how “Creating A Space” was born.
“Creating A Space” is a formation of different things. We are a brand that focuses on showcasing local aspiring creatives through the medium of interview and film. We are inspired by other people’s stories, creative processes, and outcomes, and love capturing that through our interviews. Our passion also lies within events curation. We began with hosting panel talks like this one, where we discussed different topics that allowed for open conversations. This allowed us to focus on the process of the journey rather than the end destination. Out of that, it springboarded into creating music events by making use of up and coming independent multicultural musicians here in Belfast.
We are passionate about creating content that represents our cultural backgrounds. My business partner and I were not born in Belfast, but have lived the majority of our lives here. Therefore, we feel that it is important to represent ourselves in a way that fits our narrative within the context of our cultural background.
We are still learning and growing but want our ethos to always be intertwined throughout all the work we create. We are an inclusive brand that emphasizes the need to be true to yourself, to trust your own processes and recognize that they are valid. Through our work, we want to encourage individuals to push themselves out of their comfort zones and to keep growing regardless of the struggles that they encounter.
Globally right now, I sense there is this powerful energy existing amongst women where we are coming together to unite. It inspires me in a lot of ways because I can take ownership over myself, be inspired to learn and grow in different spaces and be united with other amazing women.
I feel strongly that events like this need to happen on a regular basis because it affords a space to check in with ourselves and in turn be inspired by others. I have a panel of four amazing women with different creative backgrounds who will be giving insights into their careers, shedding light on the things that they have struggled with, but also emphasizing how they are strong and powerful within their creative industry.
You have said in the event blurb you have noticed a change within the creative scene in Belfast, what are the most tangible changes you have noticed as a young woman starting your own creative enterprise and what impact have these had?
The most tangible change that I have noticed as a young woman starting off, are people’s energy, mindsets, and awareness of what’s going on around us. It feels like in the last few years there has been a shift of openness, a shift of wanting change and a shift of taking ownership over what we want to create. I have found that very inspiring because it has given me the courage to step out and create my own things. It is exciting to see Belfast change in a way that is becoming more inclusive and has the potential to become a thriving creative city.
I feel that Belfast has always been a community-based place, and I am excited to be a part of it, making my own mark and structuring it in a way that represents me. I have felt very welcomed into the creative community and that is the beauty about living here. There is an amazing space to create what you want to create because a lot of it didn’t necessarily exist. Therefore, you have the freedom to be adventurous without fear. It is also a great space to learn and grow at your own pace.
How can we as a creative community make the most of and build on these changes and make Belfast the most successful, inclusive and creative city it can be?
As a creative community, we are doing very well with hosting various events that promote different things which is exciting to see and to be a part of. I think if we continue to do more events where more people get the opportunity to share their background and story, it will transform Belfast into an inclusive, diverse city.
You have also mentioned empowerment – what are your top tips for empowering yourself and coping with the struggles of being a young female creative entrepreneur in Northern Ireland?
Some of my top tips are:
• Surround yourself with the right people. I think it is easy to fall into spaces where you aren’t really expressing your true self. For many years I struggled with finding my tribe of people that understood who I was, what my background is about and understand the vision of what I wanted to create here. It can feel suffocating not being understood or heard. However, once I found my tribe of people, things really started to change. I am surrounded by people that pour so much love and light into my life. People that encourage me daily to do better, but also keep me accountable for when I am not on the right track. That is so important. Don’t surround yourself with people that are always saying yes to you, or agreeing with everything you are saying because you won’t grow that way.
• Create a healthy relationship with yourself. Creating a healthy relationship with myself is an ongoing journey that I am working on. Over the last few years, I have been working on loving myself deeper, taking ownership of who I am and being proud of the person that I am becoming. It's exciting because the more you work, the more you grow. Even though growth can be painful and exhausting, it is so essential on how we live our lives.
• Collaborating with others. Working with other people has been such a powerful tool in my career so far. I am constantly being challenged on my perspectives, and projects end up being multidimensional, which is great to have more brains concentrating on finding solutions.
• Giving yourself grace. This has been such an important thing that runs deep in my life. It always goes back to giving myself grace and not being so hard on myself on where I think I should be. It is so easy to compare yourself, your life, your career to other people’s and disregard all the work that you’ve done. That is where creating a healthy relationship comes in because you realize that everything that you are doing is valid and worth something. I am learning to continually just to stay in my own lane and keep working hard regardless of other people’s journey.
• Last tip is to encourage others. There is room for everyone in this industry. It goes a long way to be positive in outlook and to send good vibes to other people.
Creating a Space is made up of culturally diverse people, is there enough representation within the creative and business communities for Black people in Northern Ireland?
From my experience, I feel like there isn’t enough representation of black people within the creative and business communities in NI. However, it is changing which is exciting to see. There are a lot of groups within the cultural sector working on projects based around community and diversity, but I feel within the creative scene it doesn’t overall exist. I feel excited to have this opportunity to be part of that change and to showcase my version of representation through my projects. I am eager to learn more and to collaborate more with others. Overall my theme is to learn how to continue to empower myself and others.