Lauri Levenfeld (Filmmaker, Photographer and Founder of AgentC: A creative agency building brands with strategy, storytelling, stills, motion, identity, web and digital content) and Adrienne Arieff (Managing Director at BECK Media and founder of her own advisory group AEA Advisory) are two friends who live in LA that have come together to support women through creating both Project Mentor & The Project For Women. Below is a Q&A with them where you’ll learn about their careers and how these 2 organizations give back.
How did you start Project Mentor x The Project For Women and can you tell us what each of them are?
In 2018, on International Womens Day, we launched Project Mentor after realizing there was a deficiency in effective mentoring. We target the most vulnerable – serving and empowering women experiencing homelessness and mental health issues. We’ve made it our business to talk with dynamic women around the country and ask the tough questions.
Over the past 3 years, more than 1000 women have participated in Project Mentor initiatives in Los Angeles.
In 2020 – during Covid we decided to merge with the Project For Women to further amplify women’s incredible stories in the world.
What’s the mission & message of these organizations?
Our mission is to connect and support women by providing them access and opportunity to advance their careers, pursue their dreams, and become role models by providing mentorship.
Our mentoring resources act as an add on to support other nonprofits who need our services in mentorship from brand work to mental health and soft skills in the workplace.
Tell us some stories or takeaways you’ve had from the women you’ve worked with
Homeless women — including the ‘hidden homeless’ — are particularly vulnerable to multiple forms of victimization including forced, coerced, or manipulated sexual activity.
You really need to show up as your best self with a lot of gratitude and an open heart and mind. Sometimes, we cry. Sometimes, we have breakthroughs. We never pass judgement and all learn from one another with our collective experiences.
What are some things entrepreneurs should be doing to enhance their brand?
During the transition to entrepreneurship, take an inventory of your entire social media presence. Scrub anything unflattering or irrelevant to your personal/ professional brand.
LinkedIn is a great place to share content because it’s a business platform, and you can get away with simply sharing company and industry updates. There are only so many of your followers who are going to be interested in that content, though, so we recommend mixing in some personal posts and empathetic moments to encourage more interest in your personal brand.
For more creative industries TikTok, Snapchat and Instagram are a great place to display your original content.
What’s holding women back from taking it to the next level?
Our Top 5:
- Reluctance to claim achievements
- Expecting others to spontaneously notice your work
- Leveraging relationships
- The perfection trap
- The disease to please
Lauri – what are some things you’ve learned from the people you’ve encountered through your filmmaking (Nelson Mandela, Hillary Clinton, Robert Redford etc)?
Working with some of the most prolific figures of our times has impacted me profoundly as a storyteller. With each experience I have broadened my compassion for others, while harnessing an acute sensibility to collect and connect the necessary and important details (of my clients and the people around me) to capture, create and catapult their personal and/or brand stories.
As one of two women who graduated from the Cinema Arts Program at USC over 20 years ago, it became my mission early on to create visual stories with purpose that help inform the community and integrate platforms which empower and impact the voices of all women. I have built a multitude of platforms to service and mentor women creatives and women as a whole. Each community provides a safe space for women and girls to congregate, share ideas, and learn from one another.
Adrienne – any innovative digital marketing tips you can share with us?
Short form unscripted video and gamification of anything really is so much of marketing these days – look at the data and growth over the past year – it’s really mind blowing but makes sense based on all the time people have been at home. This trend is not going away, only growing in my opinion.
There is so much you can do on TikTok, Snap and YouTube in video but there is a lot of noise so I always say understand your brand before publishing content. The key is consistency and authenticity. Original content always wins. However, some people just aren’t good in front of the camera. If you are one of those people – stick to stills!
Sense of humor always wins but make sure you are sensitive to diversity and inclusivity.
ALWAYS be authentic.
Be and stay humble.
Read. All. The. Time.
Think about being one step ahead. I am always looking ahead, betting on the next interesting business trend which helps in marketing.
How can people get involved?
For starters follow us on Instagram @theprojectforwomen
Our mentoring resources act as an add-on to support other nonprofits – we always need volunteers. Apply on the website to volunteer. Live in Los Angeles or remotely from anywhere else via zoom or teams for our monthly programming.
What’s next for Project Mentor x The Project For Women?
We want to further amplify the positive impact of the incredible non-profits and women we mentor. Together we are continually activating a community of mentor do-gooders to help increase personal development through on-site events that focus on wellness, mental health, social and business opportunities as well as 1:1 mentoring and storytelling.
Where can people find you?
Alison + Delia