My name is Alexia Winfield, Co-founder of Privilege
To those that speak negatively of #Privilege614:
Three weeks ago a few friends and I came together for an idea; to unite individuals among various social networks. We wanted everyday people like ourselves to progress, by staying motivated, resilient, cultured, and true to themselves. We wanted people to connect through a social environment in which was safe, positive and most of all, inspiring.
Our idea; we would host social events cultivating a lifestyle of hope, an environment in which we could all connect and join with another’s inspiration for a greater goal. This, we felt was a Privilege, - a special right, a rare opportunity, a pleasure and ultimately an honor to celebrate in the successes of others. As I thought more about it I felt privileged to live in a city like Columbus, privileged to be exposed to such diversity and creativity, privileged to live in a city with such an exciting entrepreneurial spirit and such artistic talent. I feel privileged to be where I am at life and I want to invite people to join with me and share in that. This effort, translated into a lifestyle; a personable and organic brand: an exclusive social experience unlike any other… We thought this would leave folks anticipating, yet we wanted it be encouraging for folks from every walk of life to inquire about Privilege. Furthermore, if they were interested (and many people were), we encouraged them to reach out to us, so we left our contact information: phone number and email. (In hindsight, the word exclusive threw some people off).
Two weeks ago and prior to our first event, we continued forward and with the help of some creative friends, we organized a photo-shoot and video; most of which are a diverse set of personal friends, all whom I admire. These friends, all entrusted a level of respect, responsibility and admiration for this initiative. I’d say we all share a level of inspiration for another; they all instilled their trust in me, as I branded Privilege; through social media, with invites using the photos and videos we shot.
February 7, 2014: We had our first event – Privilege.
Wow, did it come and go fast! We had almost 300 people attend, and together we enjoyed art by celebrating the local talents of fine artists, fashion designers, entrepreneurs – all the inspired. I believe we met our goal, as we not only showcased local talent, but we also added value to artists’ lives by giving them meaningful connections. I truly felt privileged to be in the midst of such talented and hard working people. It was an inspirational night and the response from those that attended was overwhelmingly positive. That night, I received emails of thanks, many messages were centered on inspiration, joy and my dream seemed to take full affect – the pleasure of collective and creative freedom – a privilege we all share.
Monday, February 10. 2014: A dear friend, reached out to me via Facebook.
What he showed me, screenshots of ridicule, that was trending around #Privilege614. This became a harsh reality - screenshot after screenshot, this became a witch-hunt – a “mobbing group-think” mentality that left me heartbroken. What I can see now is that some of the harshest comments came from people who felt like they were taking stabs at a bully. Privilege in their mind represented an elitist clique and they took us to task, I can understand that. Folks were taking this idea, a genuine and heartfelt inspiration, and misconstructing it. Comments on the appearance of my friends and colleagues seemed very much like the school yard bulling that I’m assuming the posters thought they were speaking out against.
I began to reach out to some people who would mob on and on about this. A few of my friends would too, but this spun so far out of control that it became totally misunderstood – the ridicule poured in at an alarming negative rate.
Wednesday, February 12. 2014: Someone from a reputable branding company reached out to me.
To apologize for their addition to the trend, later, they removed their post and ultimately they offered their creative and professional help to brand Privilege. This then realized a meeting in which we discussed my background, love for Columbus, and the future in which to brand Privilege.
My Background: Originally from Florida, most folks would ask: “why would I come from the sunshine state to Columbus?” - (mainly folks from the Columbus community.) Beyond the cold, I am in love with Columbus! I am fortunate to have been recruited 4 years ago, and get hired directly from college to work at a huge firm in town. I went about living in Columbus, and I was blissfully caught up, living in the suburbs. However, what I witnessed; the vibrancy of Downtown Columbus, the Short North Arts District and surrounding areas, was creatively contagious! I packed my bags from Polaris and quickly moved downtown.
I am so fortunate to live here, something is happening!
I met more and more people since my move downtown. Quality people, creative types, allowed me to fall further in love. Almost immediately, I will state that I witnessed the polar crowds and cliques of Columbus. However, I am adamant about not allowing that to be a hindrance toward my enjoyment of this place and I overcame that by befriending some of the most inspiring; entrepreneurs, professionals, artists, photographers, designers, curators of galleries, & bloggers. The lifestyle we all seem to live was that of a creative honor a Privilege, an honorary right and a duty, and it was that duty that I felt fortunate enough to build upon.
What Columbus does best, is highlight its local talent, and I’m grateful that Columbus Alive, Columbus Underground and so many outlets make an effort to do that. I am surprised yet fortunate when Alive reached out to me a while ago to do a piece on me – again that to me is a creative honor, a Privilege.
What is unfortunate is the frightening #Privilege614 trending comments, personal attacks on my friends and me, it is Internet bullying beyond an extreme. These are the collective negative influences of our local creative community. I agree; the Privilege messaging was rushed and could’ve been more thoughtful in regards to content, and brand positioning. However, this went beyond the making of a brand, this became a personal attack. Together, we will overcome that, and as my event highlighted local talent, I will continue to support local by shopping at local boutiques, encouraging the aspirations of fashion designers and upcoming artists. If there is a question related to my color choice in lipstick or the blue dress that I wore? Yes, the dress was by designer Kevin Black – an upcoming fashion designer. The blue lipstick I wore (was due to the inspiration of a local make up artist) and was an effort to contrast with other artists that attended the event over the weekend. It was a collective effort in which we all wore elements of another’s creativity.
I’m really disappointed, that I was made a public mockery and called a “Blue Lipstick Muppet”. It was not funny for my friends nor myself.
I will not allow the hurt that was displayed to ruin my passion.
We are all so privileged. It is out of gratitude that I say that, not a sense of elitism. It is that gratitude that fuels my passion and I am more determined than ever to invest in this community. So with that I would like to invite you to join with me and make Privilege what it was always supposed to be—a celebration. Please, steer this into a better direction, see my email below. Let’s make our creative efforts an honor, a Privilege, of the talent and diversity in this city.
Alexia Sharell Winfield (firstname.lastname@example.org)