It’s an honour to feature the amazing work that Zoe and Laura do at Zebedee management. I first came across Zebedee when I met Emma Gardner who is managing partner at creative agency Elvis and champions diversity in her role there and as a Mum of Dot who has a rare genetic condition STXBP1, which means she may never talk or walk. I was inspired by Zoe and Laura because they are championing the way forward in the world of modelling to help bring diversity into the media. Do check there work out and discover the diverse talent they represent. Zebedee Management
FF: Can you tell us a bit about your background?
Z: Both Laura and I have a background in working with young people and adults with disabilities and additional needs and indeed in the media industry too. Laura is a qualified social worker and has been working with vulnerable children and adults with a variety of needs for 10 years. Prior to this, her background was in recruitment. I’m a qualified further education teacher, specialising in teaching performing arts to people with disabilities. I still continue to run performing arts classes to young adults with disabilities, in addition to this I have worked as a model myself for over 20 years.
FF: What does Future Female mean to you?
Z: For us it’s about recognising the achievements of women and the vital role they play in society and ensuring equality for future generations.
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 and is it something you feel comfortable discussing?
Z: The #metoo movement has been incredible, to see so many women feel strong enough to make a stand against the oppression and abuse they have endured.
FF: Describe your current work, as Founders of Zebedee Management?
Z: As directors we oversee the whole of the agency, from working with clients, booking artists and scouting for new talent, and working hard to get our name out there and ensuring the booking are coming in for our talent. We are a social enterprise, so another important part of our work is developing a community for our members, providing training and development opportunities and developing awareness campaigns.
We’re very hands on. There are definitely not enough hours in the day!
FF: What do you love about being your own boss, and what are the challenges?
Z: Working for yourself offers a great deal of freedom in terms of being able to manage your time, and your working ethos. But it can be a bit like you’re always ‘on duty’ – we can never turn off – from when we wake to when we finally put our phones down at bed time. Also, we really want the best for our talent – so we do take it to heart if a client won’t use us and won’t book our models – we feel a responsibility towards our models, to ensure they get the opportunities they deserve.
FF: Is there a project that is inspiring you at the moment, particularly one championing diversity in the modelling world?
Z: We are loving the Tommy adaptive range, and it’s our hope that adaptive ranges will become the norm for not just high end labels like Tommy, but also on the high street!
It’s also fab to see Vogue and Edward Enniful championing diversity in terms of ethnicity, however it would be great if Vogue branched out to being more representative in terms of age, size and disability.
FF: There is a shift in how and where women work, was it a natural progression for you to go it alone and why?
Z: Laura and I came up with the idea for Zebedee on a fresh winter walk on the beach. Laura was about to return to work at the end of her Maternity leave, and we were having a chat about other work opportunities for her (I’m sure most mums know the dread of returning to work after Mat leave!), my work with the performing arts class, working with people with disabilities and the lack of opportunities. It was a lightbulb moment… we realised that if no one else is going to look to champion disability diversity in fashion and the media, and create opportunities for people with disabilities in this industry, then we will!
FF: With the rise of small business entrepreneurs, particularly women, do you think this movement is representative of women needing more flexible working conditions that are not easily offered in the corporate world?
Z: We love the flexibility that out work offers as we are both working mums. As there are two of us, one of us can always cover for the other if needed. It is true that the corporate word need to offer a better work / life balance which I’m sure would be beneficial for their business If they were just a little more forward thinking.
FF: If there was one thing you would change about your life as a woman what would it be?
Z: This is a tricky question… we love our lives as women!
FF: Are there key messages you are passing on to your children when it comes to gender equality and how important do you think it is to change your story around gender?
Z: It’s incredibly important to change the conversation around gender and talk to our children about changing roles in society, and to let them know that you are capable and able to do or anything you want to, regardless of gender.
FF: What are you reading at the moment?
Z: Zoe: Eleanor Oliphant is Completely Fine by Gail Honeyman
Laura: Reservior 13 by Jon McGregor
FF: How would you describe your style?
Zoe: Relaxed, simple, easy to wear
Laura: Girly, comfy (5 ½ months pregnant at the moment), with a hint of vintage.
A massive thanks to Zoe and Laura for being part of our future female series, we are honoured to champion diversity in the media and we hope to see more of. We will certainly be changing the conversation by promoting diversity across our blog series and social media feeds. If you would like to know more about Zebedee Management contact them through their website Zebedee Management