Improper was founded by four women who want to make things better. With backgrounds in social and environmental campaigning, design, fundraising, branding, television, consultancy and the arts, Improper is uniquely positioned to approach conventional narratives and reshape them to reflect the world in which we want to live.
Using imagery to cut through the noise and challenge perceptions, Leonora is an acclaimed photographer and artist, whose work focuses on the representation of women. Her academic collaborations that tell the stories of forgotten women from history have been exhibited across the UK, including at the British Academy and Burlington House, as well as being featured on Woman’s Hour. Her work has also appeared in The Guardian, The Sunday Times, The Evening Standard and The Royal Photographic Society Magazine.
Leonora also dedicates her time to working with young women to facilitate discussions on feminism and role models through public engagement and fundraising events in support of domestic violence charities.
Inspirational, charismatic, supportive, Nicky is one of the 12% of women that work as a creative director. She has worked with some of the largest sports brands in the world including UEFA European Qualifiers, BBC Commonwealth Games and FIFA where she led the concepts and creative direction for the host city poster films as part of the Russia World Cup in 2018.
Prior to launching Improper, she founded her own award-winning creative agency and has been providing design and moving image led solutions for B2C for over twenty years. Nicky is still actively involved in the world of television and is a recognised industry expert.
Kathryn is a compelling leader who has dedicated her professional and personal life to campaigning for women’s equality, pioneering hard-hitting research and campaigns that have significantly influenced UK dialogue on women’s rights, particularly in the workplace. Kathryn has previously held senior roles in the charity sector as Director of External Relations at SafeLives and Director of Gender Equality at Business in the Community.
Her personal campaigning against violence against women and girls, including working on the national Rape Crisis helpline, mirrors her professional experience as an independent adviser in bullying, harassment and sexual misconduct, where Kathryn works with employers and NGOs to identify and tackle these behaviours in the workplace.
Kate has devoted her career to fast-track brands that stand up for good, building her own consultancy and focusing her energy on environmental campaigning. With specialisms in marketing, media, and social strategy she is perfectly placed to position brands and campaigns in the public sphere.
She has worked across international and local campaigns with major charities and social enterprises including Greenpeace, Save the Rhino, The Salt Box and Better Food Traders. She also has an extensive media profile, with appearances on Al Jazeera, BBC and Sky.
THERE IS SO MUCH POWER IN THAT WORD
A word that has been used historically to shame and denigrate people who do not fit neatly into the systems, structures and standards upheld by the powerful. A label intended to marginalise and to exclude people who look, act and sound different to the majority. Women, people of colour and LGBTQ people have all been deemed “improper” at moments in history and still are today, whether explicitly or implicitly.
To be improper means not acting in accordance with accepted standards. But who decides the standards? Often people are asked to conform to societal norms that were not created by them, for them or with them in mind.
The greatest challenges of our time, whether it's the refugee crisis or the climate crisis, all fundamentally stem from structural inequality. Society’s answer to inequality is to try to fix the people it marginalises, to make them fit within existing structures. To silence the activist calling for change. But it’s not the people who need fixing, it’s the system that is broken.
Perhaps, then, we need to interrogate standards. Push them a little. Take them apart and rebuild them. If improper means changing the standard, then we think improper is a good thing. People should be more improper.
And we want to tell their stories.