Women of Wolf & Badger: A Q&A With Barbara Klekowska, Head Of Studios

by Wolf & Badger

At Wolf & Badger, we’re doing more to champion equality and inclusivity. That doesn’t mean putting a spotlight on female leaders once a year, but always working to make sure we’re doing what we can to level the playing field for everyone.

That doesn’t also mean we can’t celebrate our outstanding female leaders who help us do what we do. So, to celebrate International Women’s Day & B Corp Month, we sat down with our Head of Studios, Barbara, to discuss her leadership career, and get her thoughts on gender equality, female leadership and more.

Could you please tell us a little about yourself and your working background?

I am originally from Poland. I moved to London when I was 18 wanting to pursue my styling and production career. I studied fashion at UAL, where I learned about Wolf & Badger. I spent a few years balancing styling work, studies and fashion jobs. At university, my cohort had an opportunity to design a window display for Wolf & Badger stores, which we won. I always felt a solid connection to this company as the values aligned so well with mine. March 2022 marks a sixth work anniversary with Wolf & Badger. My journey with Wolf & Badger saw me pursue many roles. I appreciate the incredible opportunity I had over the last years to grow and push the limits of what’s possible. As a woman in the industry, I witnessed a lot of intimidation and unfair behaviours. My mission is to remove it, to empower my fellow creatives to flourish in a safe and open environment. 

Did you always want to work in a creative agency environment?

I always knew I wanted to work in fashion, and I spent many years trying our various routes. I almost went into fashion design but decided to pursue styling as I’ve been doing that throughout my teenage years. I’ve naturally progressed to shoot production from there, and I’d say this is the environment I most certainly thrive in. Wolf & Badger Studios is a unique environment. We’ve built a space where we want to see our clients and fellow contributors feel encouraged to express their vision through true collaboration. 

What do you do in a typical working week?

I spend a lot of time speaking to our beautiful clients, finding new ways we can help them shape their businesses. Usually, my week starts with a team-wide catch up on Monday to align the team for the upcoming week. It’s an excellent opportunity to find gaps in people’s busy timelines and assess what will be the most beneficial. I review my schedule before the days start to make sure I’m on track with my day to day tasks and can be there for my team. People can say my calendar is too much, but not having a plan would be scarier. I like to look at it like a jigsaw. Optimise and move forward. I work with my fellow management team to support the growth of all Studios departments. I also make sure I have enough time built into my week for development. Continuous growth is the only way to stay relevant. I believe the best ideas come from experience. 

What does working for a B Corp mean to you?

For myself, sustainability and fairness are crucial. I think the B Corp community is driving a fundamental change that we need to push the world further. I have spent many years in the industry seeing not enough change. We need to constantly evaluate our actions to see where we can do better. Being a part of the B CORP community makes accountability more approachable. I always lead with the weakest link in mind. If we don’t prioritise discomfort, we cannot move forward. Having built a team of incredible purpose-driven creatives, I see change every day. One smile at a time. 

What advice would you give to women who want to develop their leadership skills?

Work hard and know you have the strength. Check-in with yourself. Educate yourself. Knock on doors. But most importantly, figure out how to apply whatever skillset you have practically. How does a sailing course in your teenage years apply to your career? Did you learn how to focus or develop resistance? Ask yourself those questions. 

And what advice would you give to a woman looking to kickstart their leadership career?

My main advice to all women who want to be in leadership is to go for it! It’s difficult to hear a no, but if you don’t try, you won’t find yourself in a position of power. Listen to what others say and then speak up. Try to experience as much as possible and draw conclusions. Create new connections in your brain. You never know what value an unexpected conversation can bring five years down the line. Make mistakes, be brave. 

At Wolf & Badger, how can we do more to support our female colleagues?

The female community at Wolf & Badger is solid. Over the years, I’ve found inspiration in my colleagues, and no one will support you like a Wolf & Badger gal. We need to create more experiences to share this unique culture. Having a support network is vital in any work environment. As a leader, I want to ensure people want to speak up and feel heard and listened to. In creative, there’s a lot of brilliant female power. We work hard and support each other every step of the way. I think women at W&B should feel empowered to seek conversations with our female peers, check in with them and see what value we can bring to each other. 

A big thanks to Barbara for taking the time to participate in our Women of Wolf & Badger as part of B Corp Month. Stay tuned for more content soon.