It took me quite a while to get into podcasts, but with time, it has become an outlet I use to keep my mind occupied while I run errands or pick up things around the house. As weird as it sounds, and being the nosy individual that I am, (I know you are too), I would best describe it as eavesdropping into an interesting conversation on the dinner table next to you. If you’re new to the world of podcasts or looking for your next one, look no further: we’ve got two podcasts led by two Arab women that you should have on your radar!
If you’re looking to break into the creative industry, then TALK by Dana Boulos is the one you should definitely listen to. Also, sustainable living is a topic many are interested in, including myself. If you’ve ever wondered about where and how to begin, I’ve got the one for you! Joy Asfar’s The Forward Minds is a great place to start. I for one, binged on it.
Turning dreams into actual plans
Dana Boulos is a Lebanese-Sudanese director, photographer, DJ, creative consultant and now host of TALK, a podcast based in Los Angeles. I know you’re probably thinking “how the hell does she do it all?” Right? Well, Dana’s secret is to write everything down and just make it happen. “I’m the type of person who just finds a way to make it through no matter what,” she says. “I want to be able to help others who are also struggling to believe that they can turn their dreams into actual plans. That’s what TALK is all about.”
Her podcast TALK, a sub-journal of her company Brainfreeze, is dedicated to creatives wishing to break into the industry. Each episode is meant to move past the conversation into deep thoughts with an aim to cultivate inspiration, helping listeners tap into the creative careers of their dreams. Dana does not ask the usual questions that every journalist or host usually asks. “I wanted to hear about struggles that creatives go through. Did they have side jobs to pay the bills? Did they ever give up at some point? How do they deal with having representation? I wanted to ask questions that I myself want to know the answers to. I was sick of going into – or even listening – to panels where the guest didn’t give their honest experience about the industry, and just made it look like something that just happens overnight.”
While each episode features a new guest, they all have a thing or two in common. Each guest took risks and had to think outside the box to make their dreams become reality. “The episode with photographer and director Nabil Elderkin really stood out for me because he took the third door. In Nabil’s case, he took us back to when he was a teenage photographer purchasing Kanyewest.com on a whim, with the possibility of him being able to get in contact with the hard-to-reach artist. Sure enough, weeks later, the opportunity presented itself and Elderkin found himself becoming Kanye’s exclusive photographer.”
TALK hit streaming platforms during a worldwide pandemic and quite literally saved Dana. “As cliché as that might sound, it really did. I was able to connect with other creatives on what inspires them. In addition, sharing with them how they were dealing with the pandemic was the only outlet for me.” Dana used TALK as a creative medium to help her dream of a better future and get out of the quarantine bedroom mood that we have all become accustomed to.
In the process, she has managed to inspire a new generation of creatives. “We get a lot of messages on how the episodes have helped take the listener to the next step forward into their career path.” Simply put, TALK captures the real raw stories of each creative featured from diverse backgrounds and lifestyles. Without Dana or her guests, “there’d simply be no rock n’ roll, no punk, no grime, and if we want to be honest, no real fun at all.”
Keep on going, step by step
The Forward Lab is a global platform for mindful humans. It is particularly designed to make sustainable consumerism easy for the modern working woman. Their content hub, provides a depth analysis of the climate crisis alongside practical tips on how to lead a more sustainable lifestyle – fashion included.
The Forward Minds podcast came to fruition after Joy started exploring sustainability, and in the process, the discovery of brands, founders and incredible innovations. “Every day a new business idea comes up, which we are not really aware of.” As such, the podcast aims to highlight leaders in sustainability across fashion, art, beauty, technology and more. With each episode, you listen to inspiring stories and to a spectrum of solutions being created.
Diving into sustainability can be daunting and scary; you will most probably feel discouraged and hopeless. How can I contribute to a cleaner planet? How do my actions impact others? I think about these issues quite a lot. However, when you listen to Joy and her guests, you get a feeling that there is hope. They teach you that being 100% sustainable is nearly impossible; thus, small steps are what matter.
“A good place to start is to identify which areas within the sustainability sphere interests you most, and then go from there”, explains Joy. “You may be interested in sustainable fabrics, human rights, or animal rights. Pick one and be curious about it; do your research, ask questions. This is when you’ll find inspiration.” Curiosity and the idea of being an active participant in this new conscious lifestyle kept coming back in Joy’s podcast. “I find this advice by Anna Brightman, co-founder of conscious beauty brand Upcircle, to be very useful: ‘Small changes over a long period of time. Look at things that you buy often and focus on replacing themʼ.”
Each episode celebrates a leading sustainability expert. One of the conversations that took Joy by surprise was the episode with Oyuna Tserendorj where they discuss cashmere’s supply chain. “Cashmere is a natural fiber that represents 4 billion of the 60-billion global luxury market. Overconsumption is creating a vicious circle that is not only weakening Mongolia’s cashmere’s supply but also wrecking its natural environment. To give you an idea, it takes 3 to 4 goats to make one cashmere garment!”
Trust me when I say, Joy’s podcast is not preachy. It lays down the basics: sustainability is a journey. “Pick one approach and keep on going, step by step. We need to be aware of who produces the things we buy. Knowing where our money is ending up is one of the most important things we can do in order to shape the world we want to live in.”
Photo credits: Joy Asfar by Aline Diepois & Thomas GIlzome / Dana Boulos by Mikayla Miller