For this month’s member story, we interviewed Sara Kärpänen, a freelance writer, multimedia artist and founder of Women of the Wick. We asked her about being a new Echo member, her many projects and her Echo guest blog take-over.
Tell us a bit about yourself and your business? Where did the idea come from to set up Women of the Wick?
Hello! My name is Sara Kärpänen, I am a Finnish born, London-based freelance writer and multimedia artist. Women of the Wick started as a podcast series in 2019. I moved to the artist community in Hackney Wick in 2013–just after the Olympics. I couldn’t believe what I had found: a place that really felt like home—a space to create, grow and explore my personal practice.
I felt a strong sense of belonging and support from the other artists and quickly found myself working with many of the local individuals and businesses too. As the area started to change and the new development took place, I wanted to make sure the stories from the incredible women that had contributed to the community were going to be recorded and heard.
I also wanted to have a safe space to talk about the highs and lows of being an artist, and to talk about everything from sex to social media and all topics in between! Women of the Wick has run writing workshops, queer poetry nights, feminist book clubs, a festival and talks. Today it represents that same sense of belonging I once felt when I moved to the area.
You also run two podcasts – tell us a bit more
Women of the Wick has two podcast series: How to Occupy Space that is dedicated to the work of artists, activists and academics working towards a more equitable world. The most recent series is titled Girl, Get A Real Job where we talk about all the things no one taught us at art school: money, taxes and the real worth of our creative work!
We’re slowly heading towards the end of lock-down. Have you had to make any drastic changes due to the crisis, and what have been key learning moments for you?
Yes, some of the plans I had for Women of the Wick for this year have changed quite drastically. I had physical events planned and we were going to set up a Women of the Wick HQ in Hackney Wick, among many other things.
We are still working on that plan, though! (Psst. Hit me up if you have space available.) Also, I’ve moved all the workshops to a virtual space (like everyone else). The good thing is that during the global pandemic our local community became more global. Now, having said that, I am very excited to be hosting our first writing and ritual workshop in person in April!
You’re a new Echo member. Welcome to our community. How did you first hear about Echo and what attracted you to join?
I am super interested in the cultural commons and the idea that we can exchange and share our skills. I think the idea behind Echo is fantastic. I think I heard about Echo through the community around 2016 if I am not mistaken. Quite a few years ago!
What are you offering on the Echo marketplace at the moment?
My time to have a chat about gender inclusivity. It is a topic very close to my heart and something I am passionate about to talk more in the creative community.
What are you hoping to get out of being an Echo member and the network?
Great question. New connections, skills and who knows—perhaps even partnerships.
You will be taking over the Echo blog as a guest blogger, every month from April onwards. Could you reveal a snippet of your ideas for your first think piece?
Yes! I am going to share some thoughts on why so many of us creative freelancers have blocks around talking about money, finances, taxes and pricing. The topics vary each month depending on the episodes. The pay gap in the creative industry and among freelancers is drastic, and I am ready to tackle those issues and start working towards real economic justice.
Are you working on something new or exciting behind the scenes?
I am! I am currently writing a book on feminist ways to occupy public space. It is coming out in 2022 by Into Publishing. Unfortunately, it will be published in Finnish, but who knows, perhaps it will be later on translated into English as well… I am also finishing my second Master’s studies at the Bartlett School of Architecture this year. To move all teaching online has been an interesting journey, to say the least.
What do you love to do in your spare time when you’re not working on your business?
I think I am always working, even when I am not. I don’t want to sound boring but I enjoy taking bubble baths, they are my sacred routine. I am a massive fan of meditation and yoga too. And I love books…especially non-fictional and autobiography books.
I often go for long walks to listen to audiobooks. I also read them on the Kindle app. Before bedtime, I grab a copy of a physical book. Reading and journaling are my favourite things to do in the whole world. Now that I’ve started to think about it: I do love dancing too! Dancing, listening to some cumbia and cooking. I often do all of them at once. I’m definitely a multitasker extraordinaire, it runs in the family.
What was the last thing that inspired you? E.g. could be a podcast episode, talk, book, website, quote, anything you like…
A book called The Big Leap by Gay Hendricks. It’s a brilliant book about recognizing what’s our ‘zone of genius.’ Also, I just finished a month-long mentorship programme by the Elephant Room so I need to give two more names: my mentor Rachelle from Grow Wyld coaching programme and Melz Owusu, the founder of Black University. Both of them are in-cre-di-ble human beings. So lucky to have met them both.
Join Women of the Wick’s next online event: Sacred Circle for Creatives
And look out for Sara’s first guest blog for Echo coming soon, sharing her thoughts, inspiration and practical tips for the creative freelancers in our community!