Soho Futures celebrates five years
Our creative access programme is half a decade young. Here, some of its next-gen stars in the making tell us how it’s helped them
Friday 12 May 2023 By Soho House Illustration by Emma Hall
Our Soho Futures programmes – including Soho Mentorship and Soho Fellowship – have been opening doors for young creatives for five years this year, and we couldn’t be prouder. What began as a UK venture open to a handful of talent is now a global initiative that has benefitted more than 1,200 young people across 30 global cities to date, with Mexico City, Manchester and Rome next up on that list (see below to apply).
The creative industries are notoriously difficult to break into: class, ethnicity, disability and more have long been barriers to entry – and in these most challenging of times that’s more acutely felt than ever. Which is where Soho Futures comes into its own.
Our creative access programmes offer mentoring, support and membership to creatives from lower socioeconomic and underrepresented backgrounds to help them flourish in their careers. In Soho Mentorship, they’re paired with a Soho House member to help set goals and develop connections; Soho Fellows get the opportunity to showcase their work in our spaces – and both groups are encouraged to network and grow at Soho House.
Soho House’s Founder, Nick Jones, has always been passionate about lifting up the next generation: ‘Putting people in rooms together where they can connect, share ideas and help each other flourish is what Soho House is all about. I know that offering mentorship and support to people who don’t otherwise have access to opportunities in the creative industries, or who might not be able to afford a membership, is something we should be doing wherever we go.’
Five years in and it’s evident that Soho Futures is making a positive impact. ‘The mentorship programme led directly to the biggest highlight of my career thus far,’ says New York-based photographer and mentee, Jossiell Gomez, whose work now lives in the Miami Pool House art collection.
And access to Soho House platforms has proven invaluable. ‘Knowing I have a community I can “lean on” in certain areas has been truly a blessing,’ says Berlin fellow Lara Severa. And Chicago mentee Steven Tucker agrees: ‘The connections I have made with different creatives in the other Houses have been life-changing.’
Jones has met a number of Soho Futures alumni around the world this year. ‘Bringing mentees and fellows into our global membership only makes it better in every way,’ he says. ‘I’ve learned a lot this year from meeting them, hearing about their aspirations and how we can help at Soho House.’
As we publish our 2022 environmental, social and governance (ESG) report today, detailing the social impact and sustainability goals we’ve set, as well as the progress we’re making towards them, we reveal some of the highlights from eight former and current fellows and mentees.
With our uniquely skilled membership on board ready and willing to offer help and guidance, and our network wider than ever, the future for emerging creative talent has never looked brighter.
To take part in Soho Mentorship in your city, apply here.
Share the Soho Fellowship application with emerging creatives in your network, here.
Read Soho House’s 2022 ESG report here.
Soho Mentorship is run in partnership with Creative Mentor Network (UK), Creative Futures Collective (The Americas), Routes In (Europe) and OWN Academy (Asia).
Lara Severa, knitwear designer (@larasevera)
Soho Fellowship, Berlin‘The fellowship has been an incredible journey so far. I launched my brand at Soho House Berlin at the end of September 2022. Then at the end of October, I had my first knit couture exhibition at Soho Warehouse Los Angeles. Together, they took months of planning and I had incredible support throughout.’
‘This is a tough industry. However much you believe in yourself, as a self-funded start-up brand, life can be challenging. The fellowship has definitely made things easier.’
Steven ‘Tuck’ Tucker, creative marketer (@who.is.tuck)
Soho Mentorship, Chicago
‘The advice my mentor Cyrus Rab has given to me is stuck with me for life. Thanks to him and the Soho House programme I’m working in the Air Council at Nike under the Community Initiative. My biggest highlight so far is holding my own sneaker launch event at Soho House Chicago in partnership with Nike.’
‘My advice to others wanting to follow their dream is to listen and stay uncomfortable in your craft. Take the time to learn more and be present. Growth happens through the discomfort. You learn a lot more from a loss than a win.’
Karina IC La’O, writer (@karinaiclao)
Soho Mentorship, Hong Kong‘The programme was a goldmine of both knowledge and experience. Before I joined, I was a little aimless. The mentorship changed that. Having that valuable third-party perspective on my work forced me to look at my pitfalls and flaws, but gave me the needle and thread to sew up those gaps. I can, with confidence, say that I am a much better writer now than I was before.’
‘I can’t stress this enough: effective constructive criticism changes the game. I applied to the University of East Anglia’s creative writing MA with my reworked draft. Not only was I offered a place, but I was also granted a partial scholarship for the forthcoming academic year.’
Jossiell Gomez, photographer (@jossiellg)
Soho Mentorship, New York
‘The mentorship programme led directly to the biggest highlight of my career thus far. Anakena Paden (Soho House Art Collection Manager), was present at the final showcase – I ended up selling nine prints that are now part of the art collection at Miami Pool House. It was a full circle moment because Miami is my hometown, where I was born and raised.’
‘What surprised me the most about the programme was how well-suited my mentor was for me. Before I knew it, I was stepping foot in rooms I did not anticipate being in so quickly. My advice is: take that leap of faith you’ve been thinking about.’
Nadia Houneini, digital content creator (@nadiahouneini)
Soho Mentorship, Nashville
‘I now work as a social media intern for the NBA’s Denver Nuggets, and I truly believe that I was able to achieve this at such an early stage in my career because of the growth, experience and skills that I gained through the programme. I am endlessly grateful for my mentor, Kelsey Vincent, and look forward to continuing to share my journey with her.’
‘I’m part of Soho House Nashville’s inaugural mentee cohort – some of the most incredibly talented people I have ever met. We were able to build a community that each of us could look to for support, inspiration and friendship. I have made a lifelong connection with not just my mentor, but almost every one of them.’
Rajan Benjamin, fashion stylist (@rajanbenjaminn)
Soho Mentorship, Amsterdam‘When I started, I was a sales assistant at a high-end fashion store. I’m now a full-time freelance styling assistant and work on my own projects, doing what I love most. My mentor, Sofie van der Velden, taught me so much. We’re still in contact and I’m learning a lot from her.’
‘Soho Mentorship is a great way to find your route into your chosen industry. The House is a great place for meeting other creatives – there are always friends or people from my network there.’
Andrina Smith, storyteller and performer (@wekontash565)
Soho Fellowship, New York
‘It is impossible to site my successes over the past year and not include Soho House. When ABC Studios agreed to buy my script, the deal was made in a Soho Works office. I spent many nights at DUMBO writing the script for the VR project MLK: Now Is The Time. It went on to win audience favourite at SXSW. I am now a member of the Writers Guild and able to support myself as a storyteller.’
‘When you’re ready to commit your energy to your needs and goals, then the true magic starts to happen. My fellowship has been an incredibly rich experience. Community is a challenging thing to find in a city so large, and at the Houses that feels effortless.’
Mary Mandefield, radio presenter and journalist (@mary.mandefield)
Soho Mentorship, London
‘I was working in marketing and as a fitness instructor when I joined the programme. My mentor, Jessica Bendien, showed me that my ambition to become a presenter was totally possible – I slowly took steps into community radio and creating content online. I now have a regular show on BBC Radio London, and cover shows on BBC Radio 1 and 1Xtra.’
‘Being given full access to the Houses really motivated me. It’s like I suddenly sat up and realised I could be a professional in the creative industries. Today, I regularly have members on my radio shows as guests, speaking about their expertise.’