It was a close-run race, a photo finish, but after lots of discussion the judges opted for a young journalist that if she had a pound for every air mile she has clocked up would be a millionaire.
She considers the 23 countries she has visited as her office and international time zones as a minor inconvenience.
Globetrotting Lauren Razavi qualified in politics and international relations, and more recently achieved an MA in creative non-fiction from the University of East Anglia. Lauren has been a freelance journalist and content strategist for 18 months, and is an ideal candidate to carry off our 2016 Aspire IPSE QA award for a young emerging company boasting a figurehead with a real drive to succeed.
Lauren typifies what a 21st century journalist should be: equipped to write and debate on a wide range of issues, and comfortable with both traditional media and social media. Over the years Lauren has built her own audience across Twitter (12,000 followers), Instagram (6,700 followers), Facebook (1,200 followers) and Medium (1,200 followers).
She has more followers than the readership of a small traditional newspaper!
Miss Razavi took time out just after the Awards to give me an insight into which cloud this high flyer is on… cloud nine or even cloud ten! “It is absolutely incredible and quite unexpected,” she said. “I didn’t expect to win, because all the other finalists were quite fantastic and I was blown away by their work. So I am humbled and honoured to have won the Aspire award.”
In her short career Lauren has achieved so much, so what does tomorrow hold? “I have expansion plans and want to keep developing – for instance, I’m currently developing a brand identity for the business and focusing more on commissioning.” It is that diversity and drive that impressed the judges, and the commitment to be a champion for the sector is already there to be seen.
Lauren delivers guest lectures and leads workshops and classes on getting started as a freelance writer, the importance of constructive journalism, storytelling for brands and companies, and working as a female foreign reporter. She has been involved with the prestigious Guardian Masterclasses, the University of Cambridge and the soon to be unveiled National Centre for Writing based in Norwich.
Her voice can be heard speaking regularly about travel, foreign affairs and culture on national and regional radio, and she has appeared on BBC’s Politics Show. Like Freelancer of the Year Emmeline Pidgen, Lauren is keen to promote freelancing and that is still one of her main goals.
“I call it ‘community outreach’, bringing people together, often online, who have an interest in journalism and organising local meet-ups,” she explained. “Through this I have seen a stunning amount of talent, often people who have the ability but are struggling to find work. I want to utilise their talent and connect them with people and outlets that can help them progress.”
And who did Lauren pip at the post? The exceptionally gifted Alice Selwood, a textile designer based in Cornwall who was runner-up in the Aspire category.
Now, for anyone who thinks embroidery was a pastime for the D’Arcy girls or our great-aunts they must look at the admirable Miss Selwood’s work. Alice is a designer extraordinaire specialising in embellishment and embroidery for the luxury interiors market. Her studio on a small hobby farm in Cornwall is causing a stir in some of the leading fashion and interior design houses in London and throughout Europe.
As her business has expanded Alice has provided employment for the local community, including graphic designers, textile workers, and sales and marketing professionals. After graduating in 2015, Alice won the famous New Designers Wilcom Associate Prize, has exhibited at Première Vision Paris and been approached by Vogue.
Was she deflated or elated to finish as runner-up?
“No, it is amazing, so cool. I am absolutely thrilled,” she said. “I just love what I’m doing and to receive this award is stunning. In embroidery, I have found something I am so passionate about; the colours, the design, the threads, there is something so exciting about what you can do with the technology. I love it!”
She added: “What IPSE is doing is so cool, just amazing, and to have the recognition is such a boost to me and my business.”
The IPSE QA Awards Aspire category searches for tomorrow’s champions. The young business explorers, all under the age of 23, who are forging ahead with their vision and dreams.
After meeting all five of the Aspire finalists the judges were united. Visions and dreams were plentiful and it was a delight to meet the trailblazers of the future.