Grace Ladoja is known for her drive to positively influence culture, trailblazing a path for the next generation. Managing artists including Skepta and Sarz, she champions creativity, whilst working to build economic independence in the Black community. Her mission to “change the blueprint of the world” is totally aligned with The Art of Drive’s ambition to champion future changemakers.
Here, she shares lessons on sending a standout email, staying authentic, and building each other up to create change that really matters.
On starting out and getting noticed
One of the things I admire are people who are brave enough to start. Everyone's scared at first. But, as I love to tell people, there's no such thing as failure. Starting is everything.
At the beginning, when you’re trying to get the attention of a mentor or investor, there’s an easy way to do it – a really good email subject.
The email subject is the key, trust me! Be brief and be clear about what you want to achieve. Think about what you can do that’s unique to grab their attention. Do a little bit of research and connect with them in a way that's going to be captivating.
A lot of my mentees have gotten to me that way. Or they've bumped into me and just given me the elevator pitch straight away: "I'm the right person to back. Your time is important. And I know that I'm worth it." I respect that.
On not letting social media define your success
It's really important not to succumb to the pressures of social media. There's so much pressure there to succeed. So, you really have to be mindful of the fact that success is what you want to make it. It's about how you interpret it.
Personally, I'd prefer to have an impact on people than make a million pounds or have a million followers. Your legacy lies with the people that you affect and the change that you make.
Often, what you might define as the ‘big success’ is so big that it’s better to take bite-sized chunks. Approach it in stages, celebrating little moments that make you feel good. For me, sometimes that is just getting out of bed, going for a run, and starting my day with a clear head. That is all part of your success, too.
On being your authentic self
Authenticity in any creative career is so important, it’s the number one thing I look for. Whether you're a skate brand coming out of Lagos, or you're a designer that's only working with progressive technology, you have to believe in it, be passionate about it and be good at it.
It's your thread, the thing that's uniquely yours. The great thing about all of us as humans is that no one can think like you, no one has exactly the same idea as you. It's just that some people action those ideas, and some people don't.
Ask yourself, what's your brand bible? All the things that are authentically you. Then amplify them through the partnerships or collaborations you do. When you have something that's really true to you, people will be drawn to it. Start that way and everything will evolve from there.
On leaning into your support network
Your personal community is everything. Everyone needs to be backed. That's what community is, people who give you the confidence to grow.
It doesn't have to be huge. It could be a family member. It could be a friend. It's just someone who knows what you're trying to achieve and will check in and hold you accountable.
I always have five people in my life from different worlds, who hold me accountable. One person might be in the business. Another is someone that's very much in a counselling or mentoring space. Someone else is looking out for me – am I eating well? Am I doing ok as a human? These people are all there to make sure that you are in the right place to push yourself forward.
On taking ownership of your culture
What I want to see for the future is that the people who own the culture actually get to benefit from it. That they are really allowed to flourish. Culture is not something that you're the advert of, you have ownership of it – and you should take it.
To achieve this, I'd love to see way more collaboration. A generation that builds each other up and really wants to drive forwards and make change. I think we have quite a fearless generation coming next, and I want to see them come together to break down barriers and push things through.