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Me Now: Charlotte Irwin and Rose Stewart

Rose Stewart

What drew you to a creative career?

Rose Stewart: I know this is a bit of a cliché but I genuinely gravitated towards art and design when I was little, and then still loved those subjects through school and university. I’d always fared better where I could demonstrate a skill through coursework or making something than a single exam; I found graphic design was a great place to problem solve in a way that suited my learning.

Charlotte Irwin: It’s a similar story for me. Words have always been my thing, but it took me a while to get to copywriting. 

I landed in a media agency after uni, placing ads rather than making them. I naturally found myself advising on the copy we received for clients and eventually one asked me to write some social media ads from scratch. I’d (wrongly) been told how ruthless and competitive creative agencies were and, even though I loved writing for brands, I didn’t think anyone would take me on.

So I did an MA in journalism and spent a few years writing for magazines and papers. I enjoyed the experiences I had – and the training was invaluable – but I never felt comfortable. Fast forward a few years and I finally decided to apply for copywriting jobs. That’s when The Frameworks took a chance on me – and I haven’t looked back.

What are your superpowers?

RS: For me, I’d say empathy. Our work is so much about people, from clients to end customers, and I place a lot of importance on listening to and building relationships with colleagues and clients alike.

Charlotte, yours is your sense of storytelling – we’ve worked on a lot of projects together celebrating authentic, human stories and I love how you balance the business and personal side of these.

CI: Thanks. I do like that human aspect. I think I’m good at finding people’s voices – and getting them down on paper. 

Rose, it’s got to be your ability to collaborate. No one lifts people up the way you do! You sprinkle your creativity across projects so generously. And our work is so much better for it.

What is your biggest failure  – and what did you learn from it?

CI: Where do I start? The error on my university personal statement… that was a howler. Lesson: always fact-check thoroughly! 

RS: I’m not sure I’d call it a failure but not job-hopping earlier in my career, which is traditionally the recommended approach to things. But I learned that you don’t have to. Perhaps it’s a benefit of working at an agency where the work and clients are varied, but it also provides a place to forge longer-term relationships with some clients and I love that side of it too.

What work are you most proud of (so far)?

CI: This is tough. We won two awards for UST last year. I’m super proud of that.

RS:  I think a campaign we did for IBM called “This is IBM” has been one of my favourites to date. It ran from 2019 to 2023.

The aim was to show the breadth of IBM’s everyday impact. It celebrated heritage highlights through to current projects, and gave those who work at IBM a library of stories they could share to show what IBM does through tangible, real-world examples. 

During the campaign’s lifespan it grew from a single UK and Ireland-based website to printed promotional assets and event stands, and was reimagined in several other geography-specific web pages across Europe and Asia. It brought together great storytelling, authenticity and the ability to be easily adapted for different locations.

Describe your dream client.

CI: Any client that is willing to take a risk. I’d love to sink my teeth into something that could ruffle feathers. Maybe a big name’s rebrand…

RS: Anyone who’s open to where a project might go. We often feel like employees ourselves once we get into a project – we have to get fully invested for the work to land – so a client who trusts us to take things in the right direction is the dream.

If a client also happens to work for a good cause – or with dogs – for example, that’s an added bonus.

What advice would you give to women looking to start a creative career today?

CI: Share your work. Embrace criticism. And if someone tries to make you feel stupid, that’s on them.

RS: Pursue it. We need you! And be yourself. I’ve been fortunate that I’ve always felt very supported as a woman in our industry, perhaps because I’ve worked for or with a lot of women in senior roles. But I know there’s still work to do and, since I’m better at championing others than myself, I hope I can have a positive impact on those around me.

What would you say to a younger you?

RS: I’m not sure I’d want to change her path but I might tell her not to worry so much.

CI: Make mistakes. They’re (usually) worth it. And don’t listen to people telling you that creative agencies aren’t nice places to work.

Who inspires you?

CI: Roxane Gay, the writer behind the “Bad Feminist” essay collection. Her voice and candour are really inspiring. I also love the acerbic wit of Jo Ellison, Editor of the FT’s How to Spend It. I interned at the FT Weekend when she was Fashion Editor and got to observe her working – and entertaining those around her. She’s pretty badass (and extremely organised).

But really I could name any female leader, in any field. It’s still so hard for women to get to the top, I have to salute anyone who makes it.

RS: I’m inspired by so much and so many people – I follow a lot of designers, illustrators and agencies on Instagram, and I’m always inspired by my colleagues. 

I love when we come together to share projects we’ve been working on and feel genuinely inspired and proud of the team’s work.

What do you do outside of work to nurture your creativity?

CI: I read and write little snippets of fiction. And I watch a lot of TV and films. My partner’s background is art and we love to spend a day touring London’s smaller galleries and grabbing coffees (or pints) in between.

RS: Same! And I’m not sure if this is a good thing but I don’t really switch off from design. I have an illustration side project, I like to visit art and design exhibitions and I go to the cinema a lot.

This is you now. Where do you want to be in the future?

RS: I love everything about my role now, so in the future I want to hold onto all the bits I enjoy but in a more senior position. And I want to continue to learn as I go.

CI: Hear hear! Me? I want to do things that make people take notice.