In the Diaspora: Ruby-Jade Aryiku, VAMP UK
'A social marketing agency that understands that digital culture is evolving so we produce forward thinking strategies to evolve with it' - Social Agency, VAMP UK
JF: Who are you and what do you do?
RA: My name is Ruby Aryiku and I am Head of PR for a social marketing agency called VAMP which was founded 2 to 3 years ago.
JF: Would you like to share a fun fact about yourself?
RA: Both of my parents are from Ghana and are Ga. My mum actually grew up in Nigeria so I have a lot of extended family in Nigeria too. An interesting career fact is that I have done internships at both Disney and Universal Pictures.
JF: That is extremely inspirational, congratulations! I can imagine it was a real worthwhile experience. When was the last time you went to Ghana and do you have any interest in going back at all?
RA: I haven’t been to Ghana since my grandfather passed away almost 9 years ago. My family and I used to go to Ghana every Christmas and stay at my grandfather’s house. It would be an opportunity for the whole family to get together. As I am a lot older now, I am definitely interested in going back hopefully soon to explore on my own.
JF: I am sure you will have a fantastic time when you go! If you aren’t afraid of heights, I would definitely recommend visiting Kakum National Park and doing the overnight forest trail! So, tell me a bit more about VAMP as an agency and the role it plays in the market today.
RA: As aforementioned, VAMP was founded a few years and we officially registered last January but whilst my business partners (Christina and Rumbi) and I were at university. We categorise ourselves as a social marketing agency and work with influencers – women of colour and persons of colour to encourage diversity, inclusion in lifestyle, beauty, fashion and entertainment industries. We go to brands and encourage them to create PR and marketing schemes and strategies that represent an underrepresented market. We connect the brand to the influencer and vice versa.
JF: What does your role entail?
R: Working with influencers is a relatively new realm given the rise in social media usage and kind of falls into PR. I work with PR teams, on press releases, with digital teams in the entertainment and beauty industry and a lot of my work involves digital PR. We recently worked on the Black Panther release here in the UK and we reached out to black owned platforms, consciously diverse writers and content creators; scheduled a number of interviews with the cast, giving black journalists and media platforms an opportunity to see the film and produce coverage.
JF: Given a lot of things on social media and evident lack of representation in a number of industries, it is admirable that VAMP is actively working to close this gap within the creative industries. What challenges have you faced since inception?
RA: The fact that we are all 24 year old ethnic minority women proves challenging in itself. There is already somewhat of a negative stigma surrounding young black women and these are things that could potentially go against us. Within an industry like PR and marketing, diversity isn’t evident and it is a big issue. There are times where people may try to make you feel like you do not deserve to be in such a space but we have persevered and understand that we have the clout to speak, the experience and passion to change the industry in any way we can.
JF: Given the industry you are in, challenges are expected and inspiring to see that you are working through said challenges. What advice would you give to other young people that are interested in making a difference?
RA: Work out what your niche is! It is amazing to see how many young people are doing fantastic things within their respective fields. But, like anything, things can get saturated, don’t do things just because they are popping right now. Make sure that there is a purpose in what you are doing and that you are filling a gap. I would also say, be realistic with your goals. We all quit our full-time jobs last year and as you can already imagine, us getting jobs in the creative industry straight after university was an amazing thing in itself. Deciding to leave those opportunities was no easy thing. I would advise young people to work in their full-time roles for as long as possible in order to save enough money to be able to quit. This is essential as you genuinely do not know how long it will be until you can make the same amount of money and more. Running a business is not easy and it certainly isn’t cheap. Make sure you have the necessary provisions in place!
JF: I agree. I think it is important to note that being an entrepreneur isn’t for everyone and I do think it is a title that is somewhat glamourised. It is important to evaluate yourself as an individual to see how you fit into the market and how you can excel within that space. What do you think Ghana should focus on in the coming years?
RA: Not being bias but Ghana is literally the best! We are praised for our humility, kindness and general welcoming nature. I think this is a good generalisation and we should use that to advance the tourism side of things. My Dad and Uncle currently work with US students and volunteers who want to come back and work in Ghana. They have a school that they can come and work in, learn about Ghana and also go on day trips. The feedback is always amazing.
JF: You have raised an important point. I think as Ghana still a developing nation and travel and tourism is a fantastic way for the economy to be boosted. Having seen your dad and uncle give back to Ghana in their unique way, what advice would you give to young people interested in doing the same?
RA: Again, any creative, business owner, I would say work out your niche, stay grounded in what you are trying to be. It is always important to build here and be able to mirror it back home. I know a number of people within construction and engineering and they did the exact same thing. I would also say do not feel the pressure to do some immediately, especially if you are not ready.
VAMP UK is an amazing social marketing agency that is catering to an underrepresented demographic. It is so inspiring to see this brand grow and understand a little bit more about VAMP and motivations behind starting it. If you are a person of colour and an influencer, please follow VAMP UK and remain abreast of the developments within the creative space! I look forward to seeing the heights that VAMP will reach this year and in the years to come.