Designed to Connect

Designed to Connect: The new social

20th October 2017

The last couple of weeks were very exciting for us at Arran Frances. We launched our new collection, we were featured in a leading fashion magazine: Glamour, we sold out Iona.classic in olive and we had our first pop-up store in London. But this experience was heightened as we shared our small wins with a community of people who love what we make, share our values and feel connected with us. This brought us to realise that ultimately and famously articulated by Aristotle — We Are Social Beings. And, as a brand, we want to be a part of a social structure where we engage and interact with people who appreciate what we are trying to accomplish. But would this real-time engagement that we now enjoy even be possible if we were not connected through technology, would we be able to connect with people who are not geographically close to us but feel they belong to this community that we are trying to nurture. A community that appreciates the beauty in design simplicity, design functionality, and most important design honesty.

Today, social media could be every investor’s muse for its unicorn valuations or the paparazzi’s pursuit with the rise in ‘Tech Stars’. It could be infamous for crippling communication or as a facilitator for political tumult and alternate truths. But for us, social media should simply be designed, built and adopted to accomplish a social mission. These social missions could range from connecting the world positively, engaging with fans, the discovery of new talent, enhancing ones career, finding a life partner, seeking inspiration… and the list goes on. Just like how artists make it their purpose to inspire thought or people of science make it their mission to solve a problem, a great social media company designs platforms to build communities that are authentic, real and loyal to its social mission.

But how can a platform maintain its authenticity when it’s built around people, their opinions, interests and user-generated content. With universal selfishness on the rise, many platforms derailed themselves from their envisaged function of facilitating a positive dialogue among members of its community. It’s become a legitimate battlefield where trolling springs from human insecurities, the more likes equals higher self-worth and within seconds anything can be blown out of proportion and taken out of context. So is this a result of flawed design in how the platform is built or is this innate in humans that we tend to make more foes than friends? How much of what we share is real, and how much of it is mere cosmetics for the virtual world? Ultimately, until the greater mass of users are filled with a sense of social responsibility, no good can come out regardless of how sophisticated and well-designed the social platform.

But we are hopeful. If you closely watch how the Gen-Z or even the millennials to a large extent engage on social media, it’s becoming less for entertainment and more a lifestyle choice. Be it Influencers, Instagrammers or Bloggers, content is built and shared, keeping a particular set of people with a certain kind of lifestyle in mind— the ‘tribe vibe’ effect. People with magnetic personalities develop a relationship with their followers to narrate stories that resonate with their audience. It’s the advent of interesting times where the lines are blurring between the virtual and the real. Innovative platforms are now designed to promote real social interactions through user organised events or premium events designed by the platform itself – GirlCrew, Meet Up, Eventbrite to name a few. These platforms are tools that connect like-minded people who then interact in the real world. Sometimes all we need is a push, an answer to the excuses we make to get out there, meet new people and share great experiences.

Well, at Arran Frances we engage with our tribe primarily through Instagram and Facebook. What was truly fascinating for us was to witness the journey of our followers from being virtual to real friends – first hand. We were ecstatic when we met with so many of our instagram followers at the “Meet the Makers” event in October at the Circus West Village popups in London. Platforms that are designed to connect help us craft and curate posts for our followers, share with them what we are up to on a daily basis, and inform them on upcoming events. But it’s an experience unparalleled to meet a follower in a real person to person context, have a great conversation (over a cheeky glass of wine…), tell them stories about our journey and the journey of every piece we make for them and listen to their feedback.

For us, the ‘new social’ is at its best when it’s designed to also connect us in real life.

0.6 GirlCrew

31 October 2017

Together they designed and grew a platform to connect women around the world S.C.U.L.P.T a life filled with great adventure, new learnings and awesome friends. Founders Elva Carri, Pamela Newenham and Áine Mulloy are a dream crew for any start-up with their specialised skills in graphic design, technology and marketing. They have been featured on Facebook and have met with tech stars – Mark Zukerberg and Sheryl Sandberg. The GirlCrew team shares with us their experience as women founders and helping women around the world accomplish their lifestyle goals.

1. The journey of GirlCrew

GirlCrew began one Friday night when Elva Carri really wanted to go out dancing, but had no one to go with. All her friends were either busy or tired. Believing there had to be other women in the same position, she put a call out for some platonic dancing buddies on Tinder. She had no idea she would quickly garner more than 100 enthusiastic matches. She added everyone to a secret Facebook group in Dublin, where she was based, and GirlCrew was born.

Simply, GirlCrew is a platform for women to make new friends, network in a social and professional capacity, seek advice and share knowledge. It’s the easiest way for women to make new friends! With the help of co-founders Aine Mulloy and Pamela Newenham, she scaled GirlCrew globally.

The community now has more than 100,000 members across 46 cities worldwide, including Dublin, London, San Francisco, Toronto, Melbourne and Edinburgh. In the summer of 2017, GirlCrew launched an app on iOS and Android.

2. The common perception – Women: Foes or Friends?

In our experience, women are friends. Just like the Balmain army, we’re strong and powerful when we come together and always have each others backs. Sure, we may disagree on certain topics from time to time, who doesn’t, but when the call is put out to #GirlCrewAssemble you can be sure that they will answer the cry. This perception that women can’t work together seems to be more a fabricated idea, than anything we’ve actually seen.

3. It’s designed to connect..

GirlCrew is designed to connect women looking to make new friends. They might have just moved to a city and thus know no one there. Or they might have found all their friends are settling down and getting married, and they are the last single person in the group. They thus need more friends to go out with. Or, maybe they have taken up a new hobby, such as running, which none of their friends are into. They thus join GirlCrew to find someone to train with.

4. We weren’t friends ourselves before we started GirlCrew

None of the GirlCrew co-founders were friends before GirlCrew began. We joined forces purely to work on GirlCrew and grow it. We think this is one of the secrets to our success. Our working relationship is very professional, and we all have our own friends outside of work, some made through GirlCrew! We all have strengths in different areas, which means we complement each other very well. When a decision is being made, whoever knows that area the best will usually drive the decision to be made.

5. The key ingredient to make a business partnership or friendship work

The key ingredient to making a business partnership work is communication. A start-up is very fast paced. You have to be quick. As a result, good communication is vital. When everyone is caught up in driving their area forward, it can be easy to forget to talk.

6. We help women design a lifestyle for themselves…

Women can sometimes appear shy, but from our experience, most women have that glint in their eye that hints at something deeper. She wants more from life and if an opportunity pops up she’s sure to be there front and centre. We’re always on the lookout for the next thing – the best hotspot, the newest restaurant, a new business opportunity – whatever the case may be. Doing things with new friends can make that journey more exciting, as you have someone to bounce ideas off of. A sense of support can be that little thing some need, so that little push can stem from someone else simply saying “Yes, I want to go too!”

7. The coolest event organised by us ..

Our favourite event for members is GirlCrew Pro. It is a careers event which helps women land their dream job, start their own business or climb the career ladder. We have had some brilliant speakers at GirlCrew Pro over the last few years, including Microsoft Ireland managing director Cathriona Hallahan, Independent News & Media group business editor Dearbhail McDonald, Celebrity chef and author Domini Kemp, KPMG tax partner Anna Scally, and Fionnuala Meehan, head of Google Ireland. Members have secured jobs, started businesses and gained pay rises as a result of attending GirlCrew Pro. We have also organised some very cool events for GirlCrew Premium members. Our favourite was when we chartered a yacht in Dun Laoghaire and went sailing.

8. The biggest accomplishment until now for GirlCrew

Our biggest accomplishment so far was launching the app, which we did this summer. The app launch itself was brilliant, as we opened a pop-up shop in Temple Bar, and had four days of events in the store to mark the launch. We believe real friendship happens in person, so we loved having a brick and mortar store where members could come and meet other members.

9. What drives us to #AccomplishFurther

As a team, as a community, we’re always striving for more. We want to see each other thrive and accomplish their goals. If someone from the network can help with that, then they are always happy to offer assistance. Our personal aim is to help work towards a place where no woman gets left behind. The network isn’t about any one person, it’s about us all and for us all, so it’s important that we’re all focused on that goal. What people put into it, they get out of it, so for us, the hard work is rewarded when you see the community uplifting each other.

10. If GirlCrew was Girl, her Arran Frances style would be..

A GirlCrew girl is her own person, she is sooo a .mood – with a splash of .bold, and a .classic twist. She’s intelligent, feisty, and fun. The kind of girl that knows what she wants, and will work to get it. She’s not afraid to speak her mind, is forward-thinking and willful. Our members bring a variety of perspectives to the table, and can hold their own no matter what the setting. Whether you’re looking for someone to enjoy a relaxing spa weekend, jet off to a surprise location, create the next big business, discuss any topic with from arts to political affairs with – you’ll find the perfect partner in GirlCrew. A GirlCrew girl is everyone, and undeniably herself, all rolled into one.