Next Creative Leaders: Aisha Hakim
on May 04, 2015
Three words you'd use to describe yourself?
Unwavering. Independent. Precise.
What piece of work are you most proud of and why?
The piece I am most proud of is a pro bono project we did with VocaliD who makes human-sounding synthetic voices for people suffering from speech disabilities. I found them while listening to the founder, Rupal Patel’s, TED talk. I was so inspired by her mission and after I heard her talk I reached out to the general email address on the VocaliD website, and Rupal was the one who responded.
We shared the same vision for her company and quickly decided that radio would be the most impactful way to express her message, since it’s a medium that is solely focused on voice. I’m proud of the creative, but I’m more proud of being in service to a company that’s changing lives for the better. With the amount of skepticism people have toward advertising, it’s important we take every opportunity to put our creativity towards making the world a better place.
How'd you end up in this industry?
I had a really non-traditional path. I started out working in small print shops, and then in magazine publishing—but I wasn’t fulfilled. I ended up leaving a salaried job to take an internship at Innocean. I had no formal training in advertising, and barely knew what an Art Director was, but I knew this was the industry I wanted to be in. I started out at the very bottom, making decks for presentations, but I made it my mission to be a success. I took every opportunity to over perform. Eventually they hired me as a freelance designer, and then as a full-time Art Director. I’ve been so lucky to have supporters at Innocean, who saw my talent and pushed me to reach my full potential. It’s important to me to do the same for other young women.
Your first ad ever ran during the Super Bowl. How do you continue to up your game?
The Super Bowl was a surreal experience. As a junior, I was definitely the underdog—but I thrived on that. I have a bad habit of setting high expectations for myself. There have been meetings where I am the only woman in the room, and that just pushes me harder. I’m always looking at talented people who have more experience than me, and pushing myself to be just as good as they are.
You also design furniture for your husband's company. How has that influenced you as a creative?
Having other creative outlets is so important. It’s easy to get caught up in work and it can quickly become the only thing you think about. Your experiences influence your work. The world around you serves as inspiration. Many times my best ideas have come out of talking to a friend, or flipping through a magazine. The more you expose yourself to, the better a creative you become.
Any advice for young female creatives, just starting out?
The single most valuable piece of career advice I’ve received was from my Dad. He told if someone tells you, “You can’t” they really mean, “I can’t.” If you let your naysayers become fuel for your success, there’s no goal you can’t achieve.
When you’re more junior, you have the opportunity to really surprise people. I think that’s especially true for women in a male-dominated industry. As a minority, we naturally stand out. Why not use that to your advantage?