Former fashion editor-turned-entrepreneur Natalie Alcala has built a career out of shining a light on rising and established talents, whether through her bylines at Who What Wear, Vogue, Elle, Blackbook, and other outlets or as the editor of Racked Los Angeles. While still heading the latter (and now defunct) online publication, in 2014 she launched Fashion Mamas, a community for stylish mothers working in creative industries. Now, Alcala is throwing her abundant energy and love of creativity together for her newest project: Creative Career Club.
The platform brings creatives together to share ideas, advice, inspiration, and generally talk unfiltered shop. Membership is $150 per year, and you'll get access to the company's portal of resources, private forum, mentor sessions (led by Alcala herself), exclusive talks, weekly digital gatherings, and many other perks. The current roster includes writers, designers, DJs, content creators, brand strategists, art curators, and other creatives in Los Angeles, New York, and beyond, so you'll be in good company no matter your locale or industry.
Once it's safe to gather again, Alcala plans on hosting IRL events — think panels, member mixers, and perhaps even cannabis-fueled workshops — for local members at her 1,000-square-foot Creative Clubhouse in Silver Lake.
We sat down with the L.A.-born entrepreneur (and cool mother of two) for a conversation on what community means to her, and how launching Creative Career Club during the pandemic was actually the best decision for her business. Read on below, then apply for membership online here.
First off, how long has Creative Career Club been in the works, and did the pandemic affect the launch?
During the pandemic, you're forced to look in the mirror and continue to do things that bring you joy [and find] your life's purpose. I remember having a convo with a friend over text, and she said, "It's hard out here for a small business owner, let me know when you have something for someone like me."
I'm an obsessive domain buyer — I have like 30 to 40 domains. Creative Career Club was available, so I asked my coordinator at Fashion Mamas [to help get things started] and it just started to flow.
And then [I thought], What the hell am I doing? Should I do this right now, do I even have the bandwidth? I decided to take the plunge because this was something that I was missing — writing and telling stories of all human beings regardless of their background and identity. I have friends that are not mothers, and not women, and I wanted to continue telling their stories and connecting them. It has been FUN, and in turn, if I'm helping people, then it's a no-brainer.
How do you define a creative?
A creative is anyone with a unique vision, passion for a cause, the ability to tell a compelling story about themselves, and the willingness to do what it takes to participate in a creative community.
What do you look for in a Creative Career Club member?
People with unique visions. We welcome everyone. I'm always asking, How do we create an inclusive experience that doesn't feel performative?
We want participation and to honor everyone's time, but to build this world it takes the whole crew. We [ask applicants] what causes they believe in, because that's very important to me. That lets us know where people stand. It's non-partisan, but it's also non-hate.[Coming from Fashion Mamas], it's interesting having men and other gender identities in our group. Being able to share the way that women are able to connect with one another [as I've seen in my mothers-focused community] hopefully encourages other identities to feel safe and welcome as well.
How does Instagram influence your decision? Do you need a certain following to be accepted?
We ask for applicants' Instagram account because we want to see how they storytell on their own. It has nothing to do with follower count, by the way. If you have only 100 followers but you curate your feed well with a vision, we see potential there.
On a similar note, do you need a certain level of professional success to be considered?
It doesn't make sense to me to only welcome the "top of the top." We have members who are just getting started, and we have members who have been in the industry for a decade-plus. They can be mentors, but they can also learn from the fresh eyes of the newbies — everyone benefits from each other.
How has the current political climate impacted your decisions regarding Creative Career Club?
It's incredibly important to me that Creative Career Club holds space for dynamic creatives of all backgrounds and identities. That has always and will continue to be the goal.
If you go to my CCC about section, you see the pride I feel. That's a new feeling — to be newly empowered. I feel like we ALL [need that] right now. I hope people can feel the heart and intention through the screen, my feed, and my voice. I never underestimate an applicant — they know what's up.
How do you think your own identity has influenced your view of the world, and do you think that has an impact on how you built Creative Career Club?
As a Latina in the fashion industry, I was living in a society that may not have seen my voice as equal. So on the Fashion Mamas feed, I wasn't sharing my identity as a Latina because I didn't want to make it about me and my experience.
But as a woman of color, sharing more of who I am with that community behind the scenes gave me such a positive response. That's why I'm up on IG all the time and I'm always sharing my story: It creates the ice breaker that people need to feel open as well.
I really believe that sharing you're on a million covers or sharing you got a huge investing round, I think that that doesn't mean shit. That's smoke and mirrors, and the pandemic has really shown us that. I still roll up my sleeves and get in the nitty-gritty of the business and I love it.
How does Creative Career Club compare to other membership-based communities?
I know that there's a place for them, and they're helping and saving someone's life out there. But sometimes [other] places can feel less welcoming because there is a class issue. There is a status issue. From color palettes to tuition fees — even if you swear up and down that you're inclusive, you still signal who you're including, which is why we make our membership super affordable, and offer things like scholarships and payment programs.
We're also actively opening our arms to people who may not feel seen and welcome. What's interesting about inclusion and diversity — we're not picking and choosing people, people are organically seeing themselves in the community and therefore applying. The fact that it's already telling the story I hope it would is so exciting to me.
What's your secret to running both Fashion Mamas and Creative Career Club?
I have a body double! Just kidding. I've been running Fashion Mamas full-time for four years; it's the parent company. We have some incredible sponsors and partners through our Fashion Mamas brand. I've worked with everyone from Nike to Lululemon, and we continue to work with similar brands.
Right now we're keeping them nice and close and it's easy for me and my coordinator to toggle between the two. Eventually, Creative Career Club will be spreading its own wings and becoming its own corporation. I'm going with a formula that works for me but I'm excited to experiment with something.
What do you think is the future of a creative professional community?
The future of community is storytelling and highlighting real human beings. I feel like there's saturation at this point with the idea of the "mompreneur," or the "girlboss" kind of language, and that's making me miss speaking to all and just coming back down to earth and recognizing that we're all creative human beings.
Even if I know "cool" people, I will always ride with the outsiders. I know what it's like to feel left out, or not have my voice heard. I know damn well I have something to say, but sometimes those opportunities are not given to everyone. My life's work and my passion is making sure that anyone that invests their time, money, and loyalty to us feels seen and welcomed.