From life as an investment banker through into a career in fashion, the life of Bri Patty has had many twists and turns on a journey which has led to ‘The Spring Projects‘.
Launching on 1 January 2015, the essence of the project was “to give people a chance”. That chance will come when one lucky street artist from anywhere in the World will get the trip of a lifetime to paint in the famous Leake Street Tunnel for Femme Fierce on 8 March 2015.
It’s a bold initiative from a woman who has always forged her own way in life. Who, after quitting her job at the fashion company Celine chose to do something entirely different during a year long sabbatical. But, instead of using her savings to buy a car or going on an exotic holiday has chosen to pump it into a project designed to give young creative minds a start in life.
The story doesn’t seem quite so strange when you consider some of the other abrupt changes in life direction she has made. A lifelong lover of fashion she found herself in investment banking before giving it all up at the age of 32 to go back to school and studied at the ‘School of Fashion’ in Paris.
Then when the time came to hunt for jobs, it proved to be a bit of a challenge especially with her background “they said you’ve got some great managerial skills but I was too junior for a senior role and too senior for a junior role so I was stuck in the middle” she told me.
It was Jimmy Choo who gave her the chance with a job that involved stapling shoe boxes together “I started at the bottom just to realise my dream” she smiles. “They needed somebody to immediately to cover maternity and I went there and they gave me a chance and then people could see I was really serious.” After that she moved to Dolce & Gabbana in Italy and then on to Celine to become the global head of their shoe divisions.
“No guts, no glory” is what she says when I ask Bri to describe herself. I can see why, she tells me a story about being scared of heights and so her solution is to go to the top platform of a diving board and jump off. She tells me that her love of fashion gave her a yearning to work with some of the Worlds top fashion companies but moving from a well paying job as an investment banker to an entry level position in a shoe company was perhaps never going to be a natural move.
But despite having achieved a lifelong dream and having worked for all the brands she wanted, the pressure began to show “it was like ‘Devil Wears Prada’ hardcore but times two.” she told me. “Every Wednesday you were in London and every Thursday in Venice but I lived in Paris so at a certain moment your body is just dead.”
A trip to India to recharge the batteries caused her to think once more about what it was that she wanted. It was there that she realised that now might be the time to focus on what the next stage of her life might look like. The realisation came that of all the wonderful places she had been and the experiences she had had “the most fulfilling thing of my life was when Jimmy Choo said to me, you’re in! It was that thrill of the moment for when you get in, it’s something that I wanted to give back to somebody else in the World.”
And it’s here that Bri’s real passion comes through, realising that as just one person there wasn’t much she could do with issues on the global stage but there was everything she could do to change the life of a person however small on the local one. “It’s a case of saying, just don’t solve Syria tomorrow just solve (the needs) of that person today” she told me.
Now with the ‘Next Best Thing’ Bri’s Spring Projects will be sponsoring one girl to paint at this years Femme Fierce. That’s all flights, all accomodation, everything and from anywhere in the World for what for one young artist would be the trip of a lifetime and what does she want in return? “Well I hope people say thank you” she smiles.
So far there have been 107 entrants from all over the World, from Nepal to Senegal and from Argentina to Ecuador with the interest from such a wide section of the globe having been overwhelming. The artist, to be chosen by a panel, will join in what will be the largest all female street art gathering ever assembled as 150 artists turn the famous Leake Street tunnel into a remarkable outdoor gallery space.
For one lucky person it could be the start of something big, to put street art in their country of origin on the map. For the other artists involved, a chance to mix it with the Worlds best and for the public, the chance to immerse themselves in one of the purest forms of art. Knowing Bri though she’ll probably just be smiling as the next big thing takes centre stage.
The Next Big Thing is due to be announced on 16 February 2015 with the winner receiving an all expenses paid package to paint at Femme Fierce in London on International Womens Day 8 March 2015. The winner will be determined by a jury of experts including Bri Patty, Stuart Holdsworth from Inspiring City, Ayaan Bulale the founder of Femme Fierce, Ingrid Beazley the curator of the Dulwich Outdoor Gallery and exciting photographer Alexandra Henry