Emma Gardner – Managing partner at Elvis and Mama to Dotty – Friday Future Female

I recently met Emma through Instagram, and then we met in the real world.  I am humbled by the journey Emma is on, learning that her daughter has a rare genetic condition STXBP1 and how she is living with the idea that Dotty may never speak or be able to walk. Emma’s energy and positivity is inspirational. The work Emma does as a managing partner at Elvis, a creative brand agency, is breaking the mould of traditional ways of communication and adopting diverse and inclusive ways of engaging consumers and communities. Discover how Emma juggles her time as a working Mama and take a look at her blog Mama Be Okay ,Emma’s Instagram journey and her work at Elvis

FF: Can you tell us a bit about your background?

EG: I rolled out of drama school drunk at 18 and pretty much fell straight into advertising. Instantly captivated by its energy and creativity, I loved it. It was so dramatic and challenging – and never boring. I was hooked then and have been ever since.

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Emma and Dotty

Starting my career on reception, I worked my way up at two agencies before joining the production team at ELVIS at the age of 22. Some 13 years later, I’m now a Managing Partner, wife and mother, and it’s safe to say, the juggle is real.

FF: What does Future Female mean to you?

EG: It means everything. For me, my daughter, the women I love and manage and importantly, it’s inclusive of the men around us that support and stand alongside us.

It’s about gaining strength by opening up and owning our vulnerability without fear of being ostracised. To change the actions, inherent language and stereotypes that hold us back.

FF: The recent #MeToo hash tag caught the attention of many women who joined the conversation, what is your view and have you been affected by misogynistic behavior during your lifetime?

EG: It’s a powerful and emotional movement, whether you’ve been directly affected by it or not. It’s highlighted serious wrongdoings, past and present, that society has had no choice but to listen to and act upon, and rightfully so.

The advertising industry has been under great scrutiny as a result, and having grown up in it, I’ve come across my share of misogyny. When I was younger, the behaviour of predatory or territorial men didn’t resonate as it was wholly accepted as normal. The language or tactics used to undermine were positioned as banter, and to be included in such was seen as something to be proud of, not to challenge. Thankfully at ELVIS, I’ve been surrounded by strong, likeminded women and decent men for many years now and it’s not something any of us entertain on any level.

FF: Your daughter Dotty has a rare condition STXBP1 that effects her physical and cognitive development. How has this impacted your life and what advice would you give to other parents managing this condition?

EG: Her condition is fairly new so there isn’t much information out there (or at least any that’s consumable) to help us understand the full effects of what this means for Dotty.

What we do know is that she’s at risk of seizures, severely delayed developmentally, may remain non verbal and will likely need additional care all of her life. Coming to terms with that was, and still is hard, but it’s had a profound effect and changed me for the better. She’s the happiest, most wonderful child I could’ve hoped for and I’m immensely proud of her.

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Dotty

My advice would be not to bottle up any feelings. You can still be strong for your child after a massive cry. It’s important to release that stuff then get back up, focus on the positives and celebrate what you can.

FF: Describe your current work role and your creative process?

EG: ELVIS is positioned as a global creative partner for brands including Cadbury, OREO, Honda, Stella Artois, Budweiser & Corona. Lively and all consuming, it’s bursting with creativity and no day is the same as the next. Being part of a team that shares the same vision and gets to steer the ship is a genuine privilege and one I look forward to every week.

I’m at my most creative when I’m writing. I’m braver with what I put on a page and like the immediacy of reading and feeling whatever I’ve written down, regardless of whether I keep it or not. It’s definitely an outlet and something I enjoy doing.

FF: What changes would you like to see in the world of advertising?

EG: I think we could do much more to address ableism both in the industry and in the media to provide fairer opportunities and better representation.

FF: Can you tell us about a project that is inspiring you at the moment?
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Elvis featuring Zebedee talent agents

EG: I’m currently working on a really exciting project with a specialist talent agency called Zebedee Management. They represent people with disabilities and are doing great work in casting their talent in campaigns for River Island, McCain, BBC and much more.

FF: If there was one thing you would change about your life as a woman what would it be?

EG: I’m not sure I’d change anything to be honest. Not today anyway!

FF: What are you reading at the moment?

Screen Shot 2018-04-12 at 14.13.11EG: The State of Affairs: Rethinking Infidelity written by Esther Perel, a psychotherapist and ‘expert on relationships and sexuality’. I’ve been a fan for some time now but after seeing her speak at SXSW, she’s cemented herself as one of my favourite women of all time and this is a bloody good book.

FF: How would you describe your style?

EG: Impulsive!

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A big thanks to Emma for being part of our future female series, investing time to share her journey is very important for our growing community.