Submission to #Girlgaze from Sophie Green; Bangers and Smash

IT STARTED WITH A HASHTAG: #GIRLGAZE

By Terri Stone

In February 2016, photographer/entrepreneur/media mogul Amanda de Cadenet partnered with Teen Vogue magazine in a search for photos of girls taken by girl photographers. That search, conducted on Instagram and hashtagged #girlgaze, tapped into a reservoir of pent-up interest, energy, and skill so vast that it now powers a multi-armed organization with a creative agency, zine, book, in-person shows, and social media channels. In this interview, de Cadenet discusses the success of Girlgaze—and how you can become part of it.

[Editorial note: One of the images in this article contains nudity.]

Create: Two years is a very short time to grow from a single magazine feature to the current organization. Why and how did Girlgaze explode like that?

Amanda de Cadenet

Amanda de Cadenet: It all started as a call to action, a competition, where female photographers could submit their work using the #girlgaze hashtag, and the winner would then get the opportunity to do an editorial shoot for Teen Vogue. It was so much more than awareness because there was this real, tangible job opportunity attached.

Then the submissions started flooding in. We didn’t realize how many we’d get—in just six months, there were more than a million, and now we’re up to something like 2.8 million images submitted. We received so many submissions that we needed more than just one story in Teen Vogue to recognize the work, so we ended up curating the entire September issue, which was the first time an entire issue had been created by girls, for girls.

That's when I realized that we needed to do more—we needed a network to bring together creatives and brands and create job opportunities. We needed to create a platform for these incredibly talented girls to be seen and heard and their work to be recognized and utilized.

Photo on left by Lauren Withrow; photo on right by Flora Negri

Create: Besides offering jobs, how does Girlgaze support its creative community?

de Cadenet: Through our social networks, we have created a platform to connect, support, and inspire our members. We have offered mentorships and collaborations with women in industries who are like-minded and value the growth and promotion of female-led creativity; that's also led to opportunities for our members to be involved in projects such as Glamour's New View short film competition and the Annenberg photographic exhibition. We also offer educational moments via our platform. Our weekly recurring release "Not Fake News" keeps our community abreast of breaking events. Most recently, we've offered informative guides on cervical cancer and women working in STEM.

Create: Do companies needing creatives seek out Girlgaze?

de Cadenet: Absolutely; we are constantly approached by brands for female-identifying content creators. The consumer market is changing and people are more aware of social issues, injustices, the gender gap, and marginalization. As a society we need to actively be more inclusive, and brands need to ensure they are supporting this inclusivity and representing the social changes that we as a society are cultivating. They understand that we are in the midst of a new generation of creative femmes who come from all over the globe, who have a unique eye and style that reaches and speaks to the next major consumer market: Gen Z. 

Posters from the film series #IShapeMyWorld, produced in partnership with Levi’s

Create: How do you select the creatives who get gigs via Girlgaze?

de Cadenet: All of our creatives connect to us through our Instagram, which we love as it provides an open forum that is accessible for most people around the globe and provides an even ground for people to demonstrate their work. We are working on a bigger network that will also provide a launch pad for creatives to find jobs and brands to find creative partners, but we can't reveal too much of that yet!

Create: Do you have practical tips for creatives who want to be considered for Girlgaze jobs?

de Cadenet: Being proactive is key in our community, so if you want to be considered for a job at Girlgaze, make yourself heard; reach out and show us what you have. Tenacity is key and I believe that every team member at Girlgaze has it in abundance.

Create: Any advice for female creators who want to launch their own creative company?   

de Cadenet: In today's competitive job market, it is integral that you are willing and able to familiarize yourself with every aspect of running a business. I try to ensure that I understand and oversee all the moving parts of my company, so that I am aware of where we need to focus our attention, where we are falling short, and ultimately how we can improve.