Coffee Cocoa Gunpowder’s art director on the necessity of diversifying the industry, being part of a creative team and the challenges of thinking outside the box, writes LBB’s Natasha Patel
Lauren Maneschi credits her love for the creative sector to her two grandmothers: Grandma Gae and Mimi. Both of these women were creators in their own right, with Grandma Gae being a prize-winning doll maker who taught her granddaughter ‘to colour within the lines’ and her paternal grandmother, Mimi teaching Lauren her work ethic, imagination and resourcefulness.
Combine this with growing up in a mixed Italian and Australian household and you’ve got a pretty clear picture of Lauren’s early years. She’s always been pretty much based in Sydney and so it seemed fitting for Lauren to study there – not least because she found the local campus cool. “I studied Media & Communications at The University of Sydney, and majored in Art History and Marketing. Coming out of Year 12, I find it slightly mental that I made this decision so quickly and didn’t think much about the consequences of either pathway. I’m a strong believer in going with my gut, which helped me not overthink the decision too much.”
Post-graduation and a chance encounter with a friend lead her to work at TBWA Australia’s PR agency Eleven as a PR account coordinator. This first foray into the creative sector had Lauren innovating with a campaign to tailor a hair and skin brands release. Through this project, Lauren discovered just what creativity can do, “Very early on in my time at Eleven I realised I wanted to transition into advertising and ultimately be a creative.”
After leaving this role, Lauren went into the full-service creative agency JOY where she worked in the social media and content team. It was during this time that she enrolled in AWARD School where she met her creative partner Lewi Clarke and honed her art directing skills. Shortly before graduating, she met Ant Melder and Chiquita King, co-founders of Coffee Cocoa Gunpowder and the rest is history. She reflects, “I’m so stoked to have landed an art director position with them at the beginning of 2021 and be working on awesome projects alongside unbelievably talented people.”
It was with ‘Cocogun’, the name coined by employees at Coffee Cocoa Gunpowder, that Lauren was shown the real-life impact that working in advertising can have. In particular, the team worked on the Human Mart campaign with The Glue Society to highlight human slavery that especially gave her a jolt. “It’s shocking to hear that human slavery still exists in Australia, with those involved in the trafficking trade thinking humans can be bought and sold. So to demonstrate this to the public, the team created Human Mart, a supermarket ‘selling’ products which represent victims of trafficking.”
Being a part of the team at Cocogun has also given Lauren plenty to think about with diversity in the industry. This was specifically brought to light when Ant co-founded #OnlyOneInTheRoom to inspire and celebrate diversity in the Australian advertising scene. She adds that diversity can be ‘one of the most important ingredients for creative thinking’. The Cocogun team also celebrate the Indigenous community with cultural training alongside Aunty Margaret Campbell, a pioneer in the aboriginal community. Lauren explains, “It’s a journey of connecting, learning and understanding, and one that’s really important to the entire team.”
Outside of work, Lauren is a keen sports player with plenty of activities on the go but she finds that having a routine relaxes her and forces her into the kind of discipline she ‘might not ever have’. She’s also passionate about using the wealth of online information to learn new software. A self-taught Adobe Suite user, Illustrator has become one of her favourite hobbies.
Pushing herself to think outside of the box is one of the most challenging parts of Lauren’s day job but this doesn’t take away from her number one motivation and that is working as part of a team. “Being part of a team that respects, values and motivates me is honestly the thing that drives me forward. This is evident in my work (being part of a creative team, playing a role in the agency), my hobbies (staying fit and doing my bit for my AFL team) and relationships (being the best sister, friend, partner and daughter I possibly can be).”