Everyone knows we love a Girl Boss here at House of Coco so this week we caught up with The Bulb a creative production agency that produces sustainable events. We wanted to know more about the event agency and of course Selina Donald and Ruth Weldon the driving force behind the The Bulb!
They bring creativity and passion ensuring that every event they design and deliver is good for their client, and the clients budget, the community and most importantly the planet.
Tell us a little bit about you – how did you meet?
Ruth We have known each other for over ten years and first met in Leeds. We have the same circle of friends and had been bumping into each other at parties and social gatherings for a while. When I moved to London, I got in touch with Selina as she was looking for a freelancer to work with her at ITV as well as to fill a room at her house. At one point we were living together, working together and planning our business together!
How important is sustainability to you?
Ruth We don’t see sustainability as a separate entity to The Bulb, us or our work. It runs through everything we do – all of our decisions are made based on our values and ethos.
This year has been a momentous year for sustainability and climate change. The creation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals and the ratification of the Paris Agreement with 112 countries agreeing to do everything in their power to fight climate change. Climate change is a bigger risk to the world than terrorism but yet people just don’t know about it which is worrying.
Selina At the moment we are busy working with a team of experts to finalise our manifesto and reporting and metric system. We have chosen five key areas that we know we can have an impact, reducing food waste, choosing production materials responsibly and setting three year targets that will result in measurable positive social, environmental, economic and community impact.
We are building innovative partnerships with people from different industries, taking findings and understanding how we can be better
Ruth Transparency is one of our core values, and setting clear targets and reporting regularly on them keeps us accountable, drives us and allows us to share what we’ve learned and inspire others to head the same direction. Our approach will develop, grow and adapt as new information and trends shape them, and as our business matures over the years.
How did The Bulb begin? Tell us more about your ethos and what you stand for
Selina Sustainability has always been an interest for me, from an early age I have been following the news on climate change, sustainability development and animal rights. Working on the London 2012 Ceremonies, I was part of the sustainability committee and it was the first time that I realised that events are notoriously wasteful but yet don’t need to be. I’m really proud that we delivered the most sustainable Ceremonies in Olympic and Paralympic history.
Ruth We’ve both worked in the events industry for over ten years, have had brilliant experiences working with huge brands and knew the market was saturated with great agencies. We looked at our passions and expertise as well as what was missing in the market and decided that we wanted to create an innovative and forward thinking agency. Deliver on our passions and expertise.
We spent three months researching, identifying our strengths, weaknesses and meeting key people in the industry and from potential clients to put the concept in front of them and see what they thought. It gave us the confidence to know that it there was a gap and we were the right people to fill it.
We are all about the #girlboss here at HoC tell us what motivates you?
Selina That’s one of our favourite hashtags to use! Other successful women motivate us. We are so lucky to have a group of fantastic and inspirational female friends, mentors and colleagues that we can bounce ideas off, talk through the emotional rollercoaster of running your own business and just encourage and instill confidence in each other.
We went to the recent TEDX Covent Garden Women and it was fantastic – some of the women have been through things that you can’t even imagine and to hear them talk so positively and discuss their achievements was incredible. I guess the other motivation are the young girls that we mentor, we want to succeed so we can inspire them to succeed – if we can do it then so can they.
Favourite holiday destination and why
Ruth As well as The Bulb, we also have another business called Ruth Alexander Weddings which is a wedding planning agency based in Ibiza. Ibiza is an island that has been special to us for a long time and we decided that we wanted a work-life balance from the mania in London and set up over there too. We have ten clients at the moment and all the weddings are beautiful, high-end and creative set everywhere from a beach, to private villas and even one wedding in a woods! It gives us the opportunity to work but also get out of London and get some head space, do some yoga and relax in the Balearic countryside.
What do you like doing to relax?
Selina Ha! – erm…aside from the time out in Ibiza, I really love to read and have to have a book on the go that is nothing to do with work in order to switch off. Recent brilliant recommended reads are When Breathe Becomes Air by Paul Kalanithi and Men Explain Things To Me by Rebecca Solnit – both completely different but brilliant reads.
Ruth I have a puppy, Rafferty. He is absolutely nuts and keeps me on my toes! I love going out for long walks with him and having that time out.
Selina you have an extensive background in events – what makes The Bulb different?
Selina The Bulb is set up differently to any other agency in London. We’ve taken all of our experience and passion and put it into one agency that delivers brilliant, creative events using digital technology and innovations but with the added bonus of being responsible to the environment and society.
We know that the businesses who will thrive in the future – including events companies and those who commission events – are those who can do great things with less. We have done away with the ‘old fashioned’ approach to events with the past legacy of food waste, unconscious energy use, throwaway sets and short-term focus. We also have a particular passion for social sustainability and how we can use events as platforms to empower, educate and engage an audience.
It’s a mans world – have you faced any issues being women in the events industry and how do you tackle them?
We disagree that it’s a man’s world. It’s a scary time but it’s also an exciting time – women are coming together to revolt again patriarchy and rising the profile of women’s rights across the world. Look at the #HeforShe campaign lead by the fantastic Emma Watson, the WOW festival run by Jude Kelly at the Southbank Centre, the rise in feminism across the board – people are talking and making a difference.
Yes, somehow the most powerful position in the world has been filled by a misogynistic predatory man but this should just encourage more shouting and more action. It means that we have to come together as people to highlight and unite against wrongdoings. People are finally talking about rape culture, the gender pay gap, the impact of porn and social media and encouraging women to ‘lean in’ and stand up for themselves and we have to make sure that those conversations do not stop. We certainly won’t be silenced and will shouting from the rooftops, using our events as platforms to further encourage social change.
If you could change one thing about the world today – what would it be?
Selina The current deforestation and impact on the oceans. There are one third less wildlife in the world today since 1970. There are so many species of animals on the brink of being extinct because we, humans, are cutting down their homes, making way for palm oil and the like, filling the oceans with plastic which kills over one million sea animals a year. Every time you use that plastic straw in the pub, it stays on the planet for over 500 years and ends up floating around in the sea. Imagine the world without us, or the world without animals – pretty powerful stark contrast isn’t it?
We are loving Planet Earth Sundays at the minute – how do you spend your days off?
Ruth We LOVE Planet Earth too! There was a great interview with David Attenborough where he was asked what should we do about Donald Trump and he replied, ‘perhaps we should shoot him’. Brilliant! David Attenborough for Prime Minster and World Leader we say!!
Back to the question though… we spend our days off (which are minimal at the moment) with our loved ones, we have the same brilliant circle of friends who are incredibly supportive of what we are doing and we love nothing more than a fun, boozy Sunday roast in an East London pub – red wine, Yorkshire Puddings and lots of laughs!
Your company values are wonderful! How important are they to you to maintain – even in the toughest of situations?
Selina The creative concept and sustainability of our events are intertwined. We will not ever deliver an event without the impact of the environment at the forefront of our planning. These are our passions as well as our work so we know that we will maintain them and keep credible.
Name a place in the world where you’d love to organise an event?
Selina I was talking about this last night! Our dream brief would be to organise the an event on the Virgin Galactic Spaceflight. How incredible to organise an event in space, looking back on the Planet. I think it would be a life affirming and changing moment, you would realise just how insignificant we all are.
Richard – if you are reading this – get in touch!
What can we expect from The Bulb in the future?
Ruth BIG things! We are releasing our manifesto and reporting targets in January on our year anniversary. We’ll be starting the year in Las Vegas working on a huge project for Redken. Then we’re working with Vivienne Westwood’s Climate Revolution to produce an 800 people event to start Fashion Week off with a bang in February as well as working on International Parity Day – the day celebrating and promoting equality between everyone. There’s lots of exciting conversations taking place and we absolutely can’t wait to see what 2017 brings.
Who inspires you?
Selina We were incredibly moved by Michelle Obama’s speech on women, education and Donald Trump. It was so powerful, you could have heard a pin drop in our office. Michelle for President 2020 we say!
Ruth Both of us are lucky enough to have fantastic mentors who have supported us along the way and provide objective advice to help us move forward and which we are incredibly grateful for.
Selina We’re also inspired by the younger generation. We keep meetingso many amazing people in their early 20’s who have start-up’s and are absolutely smashing it! It’s so inspiring to see someone young, confident in their abilities and not afraid of failure.
Thank you for taking the time to speak to us Selina and Ruth! we are so excited to hear more from The Bulb – and you can keep up with their journey and adventures