In 2009, the founders had a vision, a vision to connect all artistic individuals within every community, city, and town… a vision where no boarders separated those with talent, and no boundaries existed to keep them from joining together in their creative diversity. RAW: Natural Born Artists, is a networking community that hosts events in over 60 cities across the globe. By creating a platform for the filmmaker, the designer, the painter, the photographer, and the musician, they bring the arts to people, and people to the arts. The artists and guests involved have the opportunity to connect, to appreciate, to hear, and to love. They are young, creative, and passionate optimists who are bold enough to inspire and impact the world though art. They are RAW.
This week I had the privilege to sit down and interview Sarah Badran, a UNT alumn and the RAW Dallas showcase director, at Café Brazil in Deep Ellum, Dallas. Originally born in the Philippines, Sarah moved to Texas when she was 8 years old. From an early age, Sarah was able to identify her passion for art and entertainment. Due to her experiences working in restaurants, various hotels, and at a music label, Sarah gained valuable people-skills that proved to be beneficial as a young professional. In 2012, Sarah brought RAW to Dallas. A competitive, strategic, and self-made businesswoman, Sarah has successfully grown RAW Dallas as the result of her admirably strong work ethic.
Name: Sarah Badran
Job Title: Dallas Showcase Director
Hometown: Born in the Philippines
University and Major(s): The University of North Texas – Public Relations
What is RAW in your own words?
RAW is currently the world’s largest independent arts organization that focuses on indie artists within the first 10 years of their careers. We are a platform that provides artists with resources, opportunities, networking, and exposure. It’s really an opportunity to build community within each city and give local artists a voice.
Based out of California, RAW: Natural Born Artist, has been up and running for six years now. With a show every other month (six annually), RAW Dallas typically showcases about 40-50 new artists in each show, with hopes of spotlighting fresh creativity.
How did you land a job as a Fashion Showcase Director for RAW?
It’s really funny when I tell people this story, because sometimes they don’t believe me or they think it’s really crazy. But, [the job] was a post on Craigslist that I found. Initially, it sounded like a fake position. The authors of the post were looking for an art director in the city who’d be willing to work with different types of artists, and specified that he or she would make money by hosting different events. At first I was like, “Really?” And when I applied, I heard back almost instantly, which made me question the job even more. But what happened was, RAW had almost given up on launching the shows in Dallas. They had interviewed over 150 people for the position, yet they couldn’t find anybody [suitable]. The day I applied was the last day they where going to look for someone in the city. The process literally happened so fast that the next day I had a Skype interview with the CEO based in LA. After a week or so, I was flown to LA to train and see what RAW was all about [in terms of] the planning and execution of the show. I was so excited to bring the show back here because I knew Dallas wasn’t ready for the bomb I was about to drop on them.
RAW was something that Sarah had dreamt of, and spoke into existence. At only 24 years old, a few months before seeing the job posting online, she was driving the streets of Galveston when she thought to herself, “Why aren’t there enough events at which I can meet different artists?” And soon enough, everything happened as it did. Quite possibly, she was destined for this.
What do you like to do in your free time?
I enjoy being anywhere I can channel music, dance, or hangout with friends. I honestly don’t like to play around a lot. For example, I like to work during my days off. Luckily, what I do is so fun. I get to go to fashion shows which I consider work and play.
Sarah likes to stay active. Recently she’s traveled to LA, New Orleans, and Atlanta. She explained to me that she loves to explore different arts within each unique city. Although music is her first passion, Sarah also enjoys watching Keeping Up with the Kardashians and engaging in social media.
What would you say distinguishes you from others?
To stand out, you have to be bold and unafraid of things. Having curiosity, a strategic mind, and passion will distinguish you from others. Sarah never gets content with what she does, and that’s what keeps her going in the industry. She is always looking for ways to improve and grow.
Tokened as the most connected woman in the city, Sarah said that her relationships didn’t happen overnight. She explained how in the first year of her career, she had to take initiative to attend different events, converse with people, search for people, and identify the movers and shakers in order to really build those organic relationships that would enable her to have a successful show.
Tell us about your first year after graduation, and how did it feel?
[Getting settled after graduation] has been a long, drawn-out process for me. I didn’t graduate until last year. But that was only because I was going back and forth every other year from school to work. I worked throughout my whole college career, which allowed me to pay my way. I believe that everyone has their own journey, and doing it the way I did - working while getting an education - helped me refine the knowledge that I was getting in school. It helped me appreciate and use my knowledge more effectively.
Sarah explained to me that she is far from home. With a mother in the Philippines and a father in Egypt, she didn’t really have anyone in the city to rely on for help, which forced her to be more independent. At the age of 24, she became a self-made businesswoman by launching RAW Dallas.
How many shows do you have a year? How do you believe RAW helps rising artists?
We have 6 shows a year, and RAW provides a platform for artists to build organic relationships. It’s a way of networking, and a way to experience real-life art and real fans. I always try to go above and beyond for my artists, so I’ll invite A-list personnel to come and network, as well as secure media placement throughout the show.
What kind of artists do you look for when you’re developing a show?
I look for individual artists who will fit the theme of the show, and having a big line up in music is very important. For example, one rock artist, one pop artist, one hip-hop artist, maybe an R&B singer, will give me a wide range of music. With music, you need to have that “star” quality, and it’s definitely one of the most competitive slots in the show considering the fact that I can only put five music artists in a show (30 total in a year). As far as performing artists go, we are always looking for someone who’s really interesting, someone who will excite the crowd, and someone who will be visually engaging. I always try to make my shows very cultural and diverse.
How do you like living in the city of Dallas, and what are some of the pros and cons in terms of your job and personal life?
In the beginning of Sarah’s career, nothing was happening, and she was discouraged to the point that she wanted to move away. But in order to be successful, Sarah knew she had to be smart, strategic, and adaptable. Although she didn’t profit much from the first show, she was excited to seek out all of the opportunities the city had to offer. She described Dallas as a “big, small city”, because everyone knew each other despite the population. One of the cons about the city is “the system that [goes] against new growth”. She explained how Dallas has its group of “mean girls” who don’t endorse change. Yet, as an urban minority organization, she is determined to break down every door of adversity until she reaches her dreams.
What is your most favorite and least favorite part about your job?
I think the answer to both is working with artists.
Sarah enjoys seeing crowds, and being able to experience and support new artists. She loves the gratitude and appreciation she gets from the artists at the end of each show. On the other hand, one of her least favorite aspects of the job is the times when she has to “babysit” artists. According to Sarah, “one of the biggest [obstacles] that hold back artists in Dallas is their expectation of things to be handed to them. They don’t have a built-in work ethic.” She also dislikes when artists flake-out and waste valuable time. Regardless of the situation, “the show must go on”.
Tell me about one of your greatest accomplishments during your time as a Show Producer.
The general catalyst effect in the engagement growth… and the number of women contacting me to tell me that I’m an inspiration, are my greatest accomplishments. Also, the fact that Dallas ranks number three in the list of most popular RAW shows internationally is amazing. Now it seems that the number one spot (currently occupied by Los Angeles) is more attainable
Does RAW Dallas offer internships? If so, where can students get more information?
When I’m looking for an intern, I am looking for someone who is passionate about art and the city. I want someone who is knowledgeable about industry, someone who is a hard-worker regardless of the pay, and someone who can adapt quickly.
Can you share three tips for students who are perusing a career in the industry?
- Be BOLD. Starting something from scratch wasn’t easy. In order to be successful, you need to put yourself out there, and let people know what you are about.
- Change your perspective. A lot of people normally focus on the negative. But if you change your perspective, it will do you wonders. Don’t let little problems get in the way of your success, and persevere through everything. Always stay positive.
- Follow your dreams. Never stop following your dreams.
Want to learn more about RAW Dallas?
RAW Dallas: http://www.rawartists.org/dallas
Copy & Photography: Fernando Zamarripa, NuView Careers Editor
Graphic 1: Ashley Nudge, Editor-In-Chief