A few weeks ago I saw an article about kind people leaving place cards around London detailing that all different kinds of people there. The idea: to spread some kindness during a time that seems to be characterised by hatred. I was fortunate to speak with Daianna, the heart behind this operation.
- What inspired you to create Thoughtful?
Like most ideas, Thoughtful didn’t come from one single source of inspiration or stroke of genius. It developed slowly, subconsciously even, over 15 years working in sustainability and marketing, making connections between a bunch of valuable experiences and interesting people. But if I had to name one thing, I was always inspired by the Margaret Mead quote, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
- What is the main aim of the company?
We help thoughtful, creative people learn from and collaborate with each other to make things that make a difference.
Thoughtful started as a digital magazine featuring lifestyle, design and culture making a positive impact. This spun off a creative studio to help make this way of doing business—aligning social mission and commercial ambition—the norm.
Over the last couple of years, we’ve grown into a 4,000-strong global community of like-minded entrepreneurs, designers, innovators and artists. So this year, we’ll be introducing new and exciting ways to better serve that audience.
- What is one of your proudest achievements since starting it?
Last autumn our digital magazine moved to a quarterly publishing model—a sort of experiment in what I like to call “slow digital.” Each quarter we focus on one thought-provoking topic and serve as a platform for the work of contributors interested in that theme. For our inaugural issue, HOME, I was privileged to work with some of the most talented, kind and inspiring people I’ve ever known. Watching them all get to know each other over drinks at the launch event was a small pleasure I’ll never forget.
- How did the idea ‘A Welcome Thought’ come about?
The US elections, Brexit, terrorism, the growing refugee crisis… 2016 seemed hell-bent on dividing us. So, to help people of every race and creed feel welcome, wherever they are, Thoughtful launched this simple campaign for tolerance, kindness and understanding.
A small group of us put hundreds of place cards all over London, each with a simple message: “A place for _____.” Everyone, You, Immigrants, Muslims, Homeless, Redheads, Cat lovers… The cards could be addressed to anyone, by anyone.
Place cards are traditionally a symbol of welcome, and these have provided a way to help people feel a greater sense of belonging and solidarity. Because we open sourced the place card template , the campaign spread to cities all over the world.
- This has grown massively; are there any plans to expand on this?
Yes! Given the attention it had from participants and media (going back to proudest achievements, being covered by The Huffington Post, Positive News and Upworthy was definitely up there!), there’s clearly an appetite for more. So we’re working on an even bigger, better version of the project, and I’m on the lookout for partners, collaborators and funders to help make it happen. Anyone interested should contact me!
- What’s next in the pipeline for Thoughtful?
Our winter issue, FIX, launches mid-January focusing on all the ways we can mend, repair and improve things that are broken, forgotten or neglected.
We’re also introducing a big initiative bringing social enterprises together with top ad industry talent to help everyone involved develop, grow and succeed in a world where thoughtful creativity is needed more than ever.
- When did your love of sourdough begin?
I lived in San Francisco for a few years in my early teens. I’d never really liked bread, but then I tried the local sourdough and it was a revelation! It never occurred to me to make my own until last year—our food writer shared her sourdough recipe and I’ve been experimenting ever since. Alas, I have yet to achieve a bakery-quality loaf.
- Is there anything else you would like people to know about Thoughtful or A Welcome Thought?
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*Photo by Robbie Dale