International Women’s Day: Meet Julia, Creative Lead at Hotfoot

Posted on by

Julia Carefoot is a strategic brand and design specialist, with over 16 years’ experience in successful design strategy and implementation. Julia has a passion for design with purpose and works with our clients to bring their brands to life. Her expertise lies in brand strategy, creation, identity, and project leadership. 

We caught up with Julia about International Women’s Day, who and what has inspired her in her career to date, and advice she has for anyone starting out in the creative industry.

What do you enjoy about being a creative professional in Lancashire?

I love the opportunity to problem-solve and think conceptually, educating clients on the deeper essence of design beyond mere aesthetics.

In Lancashire, there’s a vibrant culture that fosters creativity, and I thrive on collaborating with clients who have a disruptive mindset and seek to challenge conventions to create meaningful outcomes. Lancastrians have a rich history of innovation, and design has always played a pivotal role in our identity. From historic inventions like the Spinning Jenny to cultural movements like Northern Soul and the music scenes of Manchester and Liverpool, creativity is ingrained in our heritage.

Working in the North West provides lots of opportunities to engage with SMEs and startups, creating strong partnerships that contribute to shaping strategies that deliver results. My approach to design is customer-centric, with a focus on benefiting both people and the planet.

The spirit of ingenuity seems baked into who we are as a people. We don’t wait for things to happen, we roll up our sleeves and get on with it!

What advice would you offer to individuals embarking on their creative journey?

Immerse yourself in learning from passionate individuals who excel in their fields. Maintain a sense of curiosity and embrace opportunities to diversify your experiences, whether by exploring different sectors, working in-house or agency-side, and acquiring various skills and disciplines. These will stand you in good stead for a long career in a sector where technology is ever changing.

As a creative, I think it’s crucial to stay attuned to local and global issues across geopolitical, social, and environmental realms, as this will inform your work throughout your career.

Always challenge the status quo by asking ‘why?’ and where possible use your knowledge and experience to go beyond conventional marketing.

Do something that scares you every once in a while, something that forces you out of your comfort zone — this fosters growth.

Above all, have faith in your capabilities. The journey of a ‘creative’ can be arduous, demanding resilience and confidence in equal measure! Remind yourself that you are worthy of recognition and capable of leaving a lasting impact.

Who has influenced your career journey?

At the start of my career, both Mark Ross and Tom Shaughnessy left an indelible mark. I started working for Glorious Creative, before I had technically graduated from the University of Central Lancashire, and really didn’t understand what being a Graphic Designer was all about! It was a steep learning curve but their unwavering dedication to the craft of design and the power of transformative ideas was a great foundation. I still hear their voices when I’m designing today!

I’d also have to give a shout out to the Graphic Design course at UCLAN, spearheaded by Andy Bainbridge and John Harker. These instilled invaluable principles of design thinking that continue to guide me, and ties to industry gave me the real-world experience necessary to navigate the complexities of the creative landscape effectively.

Beyond these mentors, the work of Michael Johnson and Johnson Banks serves as ongoing inspiration. Their work transcends mere aesthetics, they literally want to change the world for the better. It’s good to have lofty ambitions… as Oscar Wilde once said “We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars “.

If you could share a meal with three inspirational women, alive or deceased, who would they be and why?

There are lots of women who have influenced and inspired me — from my mum, through to my sister Gill and friend and collaborator, Amy Martinez. All these women (like so many) quietly go about their business, changing lives and making a genuine impact on the people and world around them.

In terms of those who have garnered wider recognition, I’ve chosen the following three women.

  • Andrea Zollo: I was fortunate to have met one of my heroes, Andrea Zollo, a musician who played in the post punk band Pretty Girls Make Graves. If you were fortunate to watch her perform in the late 90’s early 00’s then you’d know just what a powerhouse of talent she is. She comes from a lineage of women in music, doing their thing, with no compromise or limitations, inspiring future generations to pick up the mantle and carry it on.
  • Björk: I’d also love to hang out with Björk, a multifaceted artist, as she intrigues me with her ability to defy categorisation and maintain authenticity across various creative endeavours. I’d love to delve into discussions about her creative process, how she balanced fame with motherhood, how she overcame barriers and the relentless drive for innovation that fuels her work.
  • Caroline Dowsett: When it comes to design, I really love the work of Caroline Dowsett. She is not only an artist, but also a painter and maker, crafting pieces that emanate from the interplay of shapes, colours, and lines. Her work draws inspiration from emotions, sounds, words, and the ordinary moments of everyday life and feels fluid and vital.  I find myself drawn to her work as it makes me happy.

Why do you believe it’s crucial to commemorate International Women’s Day?

International Women’s Day serves as a vital reminder that despite strides towards equality, pervasive gender disparities persist. Women continue to face barriers to accessing positions of power and influence, perpetuating a world skewed in favour of men.

 In my industry there are too few women who have reached the levels of Creative Directors or who hold the title of ‘Design Guru’ and as a young woman, I struggled to see women in positions of power and influence who didn’t have to sacrifice things in the process. If you can’t see yourself represented, it becomes challenging to envision your own path to success and fulfilment.

Looking more outward — In the face of ongoing global challenges and crises, it’s evident that a shift is imperative. Our world urgently requires healing, empathy, nurturing, compassion, and collaboration. International Women’s Day underscores the need for a collective effort to cultivate these qualities and promote a more equitable and inclusive society. It calls upon us to embody the spirit of Gaia, symbolising interconnectedness, and harmony with the Earth and all its inhabitants.

This entry was posted in Design, Hotfoot, Lancashire, News, Team and tagged , , , , on by .

We'd love to work with you

Get in touch & let’s chat through your project

    Awards & accreditations

    • The Drum Recommended
    • Marketing Lancashire
    • The Bibas Winner
    • Lancashire Business Awards Nominee 2016
    • Boost Business Lancashire
    • Prolific North Marketing Awards
    • Awwwards Nominee 2016
    • Digital Lancashire Founding Member
    • Northern Digital Awards Winner 2023
    • Red Rose Winner