about Chauncey Zalkin
For Small Businesses – Social Media – Identity Creation, Storytelling, & Mgmt.
& For Medium to Large Businesses, Introducing
Chauncey Zalkin is a writer, brand strategist, ethnographer and curator. She founded her first website, girlonthestreet.com, in 1999, which was nominated for a Webby in 2003. Through Girl on the street, she developed a network of women in fourteen countries who contributed slice of life cultural insights for the website, and later collaborated with her to offer insights for her clients when she joined the ad world full time as a senior brand strategist in 2004.
After leading strategy on brands from Coca-Cola to Victoria’s Secret to Louisiana Pacific Lumber, she left the ad world behind and moved to Paris in 2007 to write a novel, which she has just finished, now in mid-2010. Meanwhile, over the past few years, her passion for discovery and innovation evolved; She gravitated away from the fashion industry and toward industrial design, crafts, and fine art – both for the aesthetic thrill and the ability of design and visual thinking to solve the world’s problems. Like many others, she became enamored with sustainability and social business. She started to develop What Women Make while reporting on design and innovation from the Milan furniture fair, the Frieze Art Fair, London Design Week, and Art Basel, and while teaching design school students in Barcelona. She also wrote culturally specific brand features for brandchannel.com and Trace Magazine from various cities she was visiting. One such article came from her favorite consulting job to date – working for a female Japanese entrepreneur where she traveled to Kyoto, read and watched all the major classic Japanese movies or documentaries she could get her hands on, read anthropological texts, conducted studies of the perception of Japan’s ancient culture in the west through awareness studies she built, and then synthesized her findings to develop a lifestyle brand concept that reflected ancient Japanese traditions in a contemporary context. This client work was the first indication that she could work with the best of the best in female creativity, get involved with the entrepreneurial spirit of tomorrow across several industries and to several ends – but only work on projects or for companies that were doing something positive and valuable.
Chauncey has spoken at The Future of Interactivity in Paris, the VNU ‘What Teens Want’ conference and Ad Week’s Imagination Festival in New York, hosted a workshop on ethnography in Barcelona in partnership with Brain Ventures, and teaches Brand Strategy and Insights at the Barcelona campus of the Istituto Europeo de Design. Her reportage has appeared in Honey, Complex, MTV News, the New York Post, Trace, Terrace, The Source, Cosmopolitan, and Comunicas?, the magazine of Spain’s major financial paper, Expansion. What Women Make is the evolution of her continued dedication to showcasing global female creativity.
Contact Chauncey Zalkin
The earlier manifestation of this site was Girlonthestreet.com founded in 1999 as a pre-blog era blog on social trends and female creativity in New York and around the world. GOTS had a team of 100 women around the world who reported all the trends and creative interests they witnessed from their unique vantage point. There were reports from Dusseldorf, Riga, Singapore, Paris, Berlin, Athens (Georgia), Sydney, Melbourne, Bangkok, London, and so on. The site was an early pioneer in the field of online trend reportage, arguably the very first, and was featured in several magazines, both U.S. and international and in 2003 was nominated for a Webby. In 2004, the founder joined the advertising world as a full-time brand strategist and Girl on the street functioned as a tool for ethnography and creative insights and not as a public website.
In 2007, girlonthestreet.com relaunched in Paris as a flash site showcasing video reportage of creative events around Europe as the founder worked on independent projects both as a creative writer, business writer, and as a brand strategist for female entrepreneurs, namely in Japan.
Now based in Barcelona this new site is primarily a design blog but differs from other design blogs in that it serves to aggregate and showcase the best and most exciting female makers of all kinds from around the world. Welcome to What Women Make.
- Brand Strategy & PR: With an advertising brand strategy background with top agencies, 10 years of trends and insights leadership, 12 years of online identity and presence building, I utilize brain storming, ethnography, and workshopping techniques to drill-down to untapped opportunities to find the essence of a company or venture’s goals, reconnecting them to the soul of their offering before finding optimal avenues for services, product, and communication (emphasis: social, online identity, positioning, polish, and real world activity that integrates back into the company building on itself, enforcing values, and making the project stronger and more meaningful).
- Social Media - At first it didn’t occur to me that this help was needed. Social Media is everything to me and has been since my own homegrown network in 2003, the ‘girl on the street’ network with women in over 14 countries. Things have changed a lot since then and I admit I obsessively ride the tide and push it forward wherever possible. Let me help you best implement powerful social networking tools from Facebook to Twitter to Flickr to LinkedIn to blogging software. Instead of wandering around online or letting it be a time zapper, you can build dialogue, build trust, and build business by doing it right. Either have me teach you and make a schedule of when you will do what or let me do it for you. Or a mix of both. This is the most obvious, accessible way to begin working with me. I’ll be speaking on the topic at two events in the next month (March 2011) here in Barcelona.
- Live Events - In late September 2010 I curated a group show in London with an accompanying event: What Women Make ~ Women in Design 1st ed. WWM was an official partner at the London Design Festival and part of Designersblock. My efforts included:
- Hand-selecting 10 award-winning or otherwise lauded designers from around the world – Japan, China, Canada, the U.S., Austria, Poland, the Netherlands.
- finding the venue for the exhibition & the launch event
- producing the exhibition space
- producing the accompanying event
- finding drinks sponsors
- arranging speakers
- writing press releases
- editing bios
- conducting interviews
- acting as agent, publicist, mentor, coach and brand strategist to all ten designers forming unique relationships and roles with each one according to their specific needs
- coordinating all international shipping and handling of exhibition and sales items
- creative cross-promotional sales
- producing online and social marketing strategy
- executing social media strategy for the event, coordinating with the festival and the venue producers
- acting as liaison between designers and retailers, galleries, press, and festival partners
- designing and producing a website to showcase the work of all the designers offering a select few designs for purchase in conjunction with my web design and programming service providers
- new e-tail
I can advise and consult your company on any of the above.
- Speaking & Coaching – Both speaking to large groups and workshopping with internal teams to set up methodologies and processes for accessing true and deep insights about the people you are trying to communicate with and serve. I can help you access an ethnographic, anthropological approach to research and product development using the modern tools of crowd sourcing, digital or blitzkrieg ethnography, developing a sustained network of producer-consumers in the social sphere, and open up dialogue and creativity between various departments in your company to create the most value possible.
Deep Consumer Research – Ethnography Since my first blog where I had a network of 100 creative young women in 14 countries who I accessed for insights about their day-to-day lives – the language they used, the trends on their streets, and the things that mattered to them, my approach to research has always been the deep dive as a curious observer and participant, allowing myself to break assumptions and open up to learning and revelation. Since those days, I’ve traveled the U.S. to learn about not just iterated but observable male attitudes toward men’s fashion, hip hop industry insiders attitudes and behaviors toward the brown liquor category, how college age women consider another person’s eyes and eye color in social assessment, and through digital ethnography, the production of media by teens, plush toys and identity in the life and memory of an adult female, and so on. Each one ended in a new strategic platform for a brand or ways to grow a product story. I take a similar approach internally as I do externally, ending in actionable recommendations that fit with the business you’re in. Here is a workshop I presented in Barcelona on ethnography.
- I recruit the people you want to hear from –specializing in luxury, social networks, cusp thinkers and players, entrepreneurs, and of course women from all walks of life. I’ve lived in New York, Paris, Barcelona, work with London & Japan and stay linked to India and the Middle East through Girl on the street and What Women Make. I can recruit all over the world.
- I conduct custom digital and field ethnography to build brands + products + services. Research and distilling of insights can last 2 days or 3 months. All is relevant to breadth and scope. Examples below.
- I workshop the client. I mix and match people from all areas of the company — from those that work the phones and interface with the customer in the field to all levels of management. No department is spared. I bring in accounting, marketing, operations, customer service, production, HR… I take them through fun engaging exercises to get to know their relationship to the job and what they think of the business, the product, the service from where they sit day after day. I also ask questions that have nothing to do with the business but the world around them, the cultural moment, their personal goals and interests and habits and opinions and families. I listen. I participate. I throw out the marketing talk. I work to help everyone see their business afresh finally putting new ideas, new approaches, new opportunities through the ringer until we have insights that mean positive change and a better business and workplace. I take into account all developments in social networking and the 2.0 lifestyle, the economic crisis, sustainability, fast technological change, globalization lending experience and my endless research in these areas.
Three Day Exploratory at the Sunset Marquis, Los Angeles
Culture, through the cues of design. at Salone del Mobile, Milan. 2007
Further Reading: Here are some articles I’ve written that outline my approach toward brands, products, services, and building businesses in a new era where we consider how to share this earth, not simply dominate it.
- NEW! My Eyes, Your Mirror in the magazine of Spain’s leading financial paper (Comunicas in Expansion) (06/10)
- Post Adverpocalypse: Agents & Facilitators in a New Era
- Ethnography: Immersive, Dynamic, and Unscripted
- French Perspectives on Shifting Definitions of Luxury – for Brand Channel
- New Brand Lessons from Ancient Japan – for Brandchannel
Further Explanation of Presentations Above (1) Looking at storytelling, fashion iconography, pop culture, trends, identity, and ideas of romance I explored meaning, memory, and the cultural role of plush animals for young women (not girls) using the Girl on the street network. (2) A look at attitudes toward beverage consumption and an exploration of cultural symbols, communication, social groups, defying stereotypes and simplistic market demographic assertions. 2006. 3 days. 3 sets of interviews. Myself, a video camera, and my recruits from hip hop, film, and the Girl on the street network. Sunset Marquis, Hollywood.(3) For teen tobacco I recruited 11-17 years olds across the U.S. to learn more about the current state of their media habits. (4) a cultural trend report through the lens of design and creator vision at the fair.
Contact Chauncey Zalkin