How does one become an ambassador?
Let's start with the definition of ambassador, courtesy of our friends at the Oxford Dictionary.
• an accredited diplomat sent by a state as its permanent representative in a foreign country: the French ambassador to Portugal
• a representative or promoter of a specified activity: he is a good ambassador for the industry
Since I'm in no position to claim I'm an accredited diplomat, we can safely assume that the second bullet point sums up the ambassador role for which I speak.
I have been an ambassador with the Rod Aldridge Foundation since 2009. The Foundation was established in 2006 after founder Sir Rod Aldridge retired from Capita, the business he set up and in turn went on to become one of this country's most successful companies to date.
The foundation was created with a view to harness entrepreneurship for social change. Rod says of the foundation; "I want it to help young people reach their potential, and improve their communities".
How is this done?
The foundation sponsors non-selective academies in areas of long-term deprivation or underachievement. The academies have a lead specialism of entrepreneurship. Let's break for another Oxford definition.
• a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit: many entrepreneurs see potential in this market
Entrepreneurs are key to the Aldridge Foundation's commitment to support social change and community regeneration. The academies are there to provide opportunities to people who would otherwise not have had.
I was approached to become an ambassador with the foundation because of my background as an elite athlete in Sydney and now as a London small business owner; stylist and editor of fashion and lifestyle site, Stylist And The City.
As ambassador, I recently lead a sixth form design and textiles class at the newly opened Darwen Academy in Lancashire, Darwen. The Darwen Academy is just one of five academies set up by the Aldridge Foundation as a catalyst for social growth using entrepreneurism, specialising in arts and sports.
Enthusiasm and positive energy is in my mind, both contagious and conducive to creative result. The academy boasts some amazing student work and I'm proud to have a voice that can potentially showcase some of these works to a wider audience.
My class was structured to help the students:
1. Define & Inspire
2. Select and create
I drew emphasis on the importance of market research as an entrepreneur with a questionnaire to kick off the lesson, helping them identify the creative process and their unique talents as future artists and business visionaries.
Magazine clippings, books, articles and objects were then used to create the themed mood boards they will call on over the course of the coming months to remain consistent in approach as well as inspire and shape their end product.
The end product they create will be judged by me (Lord help me) and announced in September. The winner will not only attend London Fashion Week events and catwalk shows with me, but also potentially attend a week's work experience at a London magazine.
I wish all my kids the very best of luck and urge my readers to get behind the academy and the work they are doing by commenting, tweeting and sharing this post.
I am currently working with the foundation to source and provide a small gallery space in an effort to display the final pieces that the students create from my lesson. Please do get in touch with me if you're interested in working with me and the Foundation on making this presentation happen.
I know it's a dream for so many to have their vision seen and shown in London.
A very special thanks to teacher Geraldine Baxter, the Aldridge Foundation's Elizabeth Anderson, Charley Williams, Sangeeta and Olivier of Olivier Laudus Bridal and my dear friend Ksenia Goryainova for their continuing help and good will.