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Tileyard London in Conversation with: Girls I Rate founder Carla Marie Williams

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Founded in March 2016, Girls I Rate is a not-for-profit organisation and platform for girls and women to collaborate, develop and empower each other.

We caught up with the founder of the organisation, Carla Marie Williams, a British multi-platinum songwriter for an array of artists including Beyoncé, Britney Spears, Craig David and Sean Paul.

How would you sum up what GIR sets out to do?

We set out to create opportunities for women in the music and creative industries and we also want to push for equality within these industries.

Our mission is operation COUCH which stands for Change, Opportunity, Unity, Celebration and Hope. We also started On The Couch Conversations in collaboration with Tileyard London where we invite women in the industry to come in and talk about their life experiences and stories and offer advice to young women. So basically it´s set up with them sitting on a couch having a chat whilst our mission is also COUCH – it´s like a double-edged sword so you can pick what you want from that!

I think it´s really important that we support future females starting out in the industry and that´s why we have the GIR Arts Academy and the Pop Up Club; to provide opportunities, to develop and learn through our masterclasses and weekenders for women aged 16-30 in particular.

At what point in your career did you think an organisation like GIR was necessary?

In 2013 I felt like I really wanted to meet and work with more women in the industry. I tried to get something like GIR off the ground but it didn’t work so I put it down. However, two years later I felt really compelled. I was having a bit of success thanks to my first cut with Beyoncé but then after that it was more just the pressures I was getting again from working with certain males in the industry who kind of stifled me, pigeonholed me and didn’t allow me to grow and develop into the person that I wanted to be. At that point I knew I wanted to create a platform to be heard and to give other people a voice.

What do you think the current climate is like for women in the creative industries? Do you think this is evolving?

Yeah, I do think it is evolving. I still feel like there is a long way to go but I also feel like we need to change our mentality a little bit. We need to not make excuses for ourselves, we need to get up, see a vision and really go for it. As difficult as it is, we need to find that inner strength and keep going for what we are.

However, the good thing that is happening now is that there are a lot more of us shouting about what it means to be a woman in the creative industries. It is now a topic of discussion and everyone is openly discussing it, whereas I think beforehand it was frowned upon to discuss it. There are men who are wanting to make a change so I think that´s where the evolution is. Everybody is now involved in the conversation and making a contribution to this change.

I just want to add that men involved in the conversation are very instrumental to making that change. I also feel that we are at a stage where although there might be more women in business, we need more women at senior levels. So equality is one thing, but what level of equality is a completely different conversation.

Which artists have been the most encouraging to work with?

For me Lily Allen has been one of the most encouraging artists to work with and that has supported GIR. The fact that at her level she voluntarily presented one of our events and gave up her time for the COUCH mission was amazing. She also gave us access to use her studio to record with a bunch of urban female artists on the scene again for free. Yeah, I definitely think Lily’s support and encouragement has been great for GIR.

What advice would you give to your teenage self about how to be successful in creative industries?

My advice to my teen self would be to just have a vision, keep dreaming and don’t give up. You have to know and understand that it’s not easy – it’s a rollercoaster, hold on for the ride. I would also say that getting as many experiences in different fields is really important to just have balance in your career.

GIR Pop Up Club Details

On Thursday 18th April, the Girls I Rate team launched the first of their monthly GIR Pop Up Club at Tileyard London in The Gallery.

The Pop Up Club is a space formed by young female creatives within the GIR Movement to bring the members together on a monthly basis to empower, develop and champion women in the music and creative industry.

The club has two segments: the Arts Academy & Club Night.

During the day, the GIR Arts Academy will host masterclasses, workshops and development programmes. In the evening, the space will turn into a monthly club night showcasing female DJs and talent.

The Pop Up Club will take place on a Thursday every month from 11am-6pm (members only). 7pm-11pm guests and members.

If you would like to join the GIR movement click here

As a GIR member you can look forward to: using your voice to empower and champion fellow women in the industry, photoshoots, early bird access to GIR events, networking with your creative peers as well as opportunities to sit in on the GIR meetings to help build and plan for future GIR ventures.

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