The Making of Little Voices Are Loud
Written By: Suzanna Hendricks, Co-Founder
It was an idea that kept whispering to founder Deena Neimat as she lived out her day-to-day with her three children. Though the concept wasn’t fully formed yet, the need for it to come to fruition made itself more and more apparent. When her little ones began asking bigger questions about the world and how they could help with its issues, Deena realized there was a serious lack of available, interactive resources for children and parents. The phrase Little Voices Are Loud kept coming back to her as the days went on, and she knew this idea had to be given life.
THE MEET @ WELD Nashville
‘We Create Better Together’ is the ethos of the creative co-working space, WELD. Founder Austin Mann had a dream for the space that was set apart -- WELD would host some of the leading experience components, be outfitted with the best spaces for film and photography, and most importantly, it would foster rooted community for countless freelance creatives and social entrepreneurs. WELD’s first location opened in Dallas in 2012, with a second facility opening in Nashville a few years later.
In the spring of 2015, I joined the WELD Nashville team a few months prior to its opening to help launch the event space. More than 1,000 people came out to celebrate and help kick off the beginning of this new creative community.
Deena Neimat, an incredible designer, had become a member of WELD early on. She and I met in the shared kitchen space that summer, strangers who just happened to be standing next to each other and struck up polite conversation. Deena would go on to tell me she had this idea, Little Voices Are Loud. She didn’t know where to begin in sharing this dream she’d held onto for so long. This was our meet cute.
WELD was built to create powerful work for positive impact, and it has fulfilled that mission time and again. For Deena and myself, this is the place where we not only formed a deep friendship, but where we were able to get a little more daring beside one another. Anything feels possible within a space like WELD.
VISION CASTING + BIG DREAMS
Last fall, Deena and I joined forces to explore the potential of Little Voices Are Loud. Even then, I sensed a sort of magic around the whole thing, especially since this was all happening within the walls of a building that feels like an adult Narnia.
Deena poured her whole heart and all of her resources into every aspect of Little Voices Are Loud. Together, we created a core team and wrote out our vision, and then we put our heads down and got to work.
The mission of Little Voices Are Loud is to empower children to use their voices for good, and to create a powerful dialogue between children and parents/educators about the greatest issues facing our world.
Deena is a mother and a designer. I am a former event producer turned creative strategist, with a background in social justice. That is to say, we weren’t entirely sure what we were walking into!
Each component of the product came to life through a practical train of thought. “What would Deena’s kids use? What is missing in our culture? How could we support important dialogue? Can we connect the work of leading nonprofit organizations to kids’ everyday lives?”
It was those thoughts, coupled with Deena’s crazy skills in design and our collective dreaming, that brought together the Changemaker Box.
OUR IMPACT PARTNERS
From the very beginning, we didn’t want to dream small. Why should we? The world is being pressed in on all sides, and if we were going to do this thing, it needed to involve the best organizations in their given field.
We narrowed our list of dream nonprofit partners down to: charity: water, International Justice Mission & Malala Fund
We mustered up our courage, matched that with a lot of hope and honest vision, and approached each of these teams to seek out partnerships. Proof that miracles do happen -- they all said YES!
WELD Nashville became the creative mecca for us as we worked to launch the vision of Little Voices Are Loud. Our t-shirts are printed through member Threadbird, resident photographers Haley George and Brett Warren created visual magic for the brand, former member Lindley Atkinson directed our commercial, and Form & Function allowed us to use their podcast booth for voice recording.
And the list goes on! Jody Lentz volunteered his services to support an RSS commercial to help bring deeper explanation and understanding to the product and mission. Katie Lentile provided powerful business insight, and we’ve had the most amazing legal counsel by San Diego-based Wilkinson Mazzeo. What’s more, we were also able to secure WELD member Jordan Groth last minute to fine tune the website for us!
Meredith Kane drafted all of our content, Gabby Watson built our digital strategy and voice, and we were so thankful to woo Lauren Ellis to join the team as Operations Manager after she’d spent five years at the amazing organization, Camp Kesem.
To the many others who put their hands to work on this: Thank you, thank you, thank you.
THE DREAM FUND
This past summer we applied for the WELD Dream Fund, a grant award for $15,000. Our entry felt like a long shot amongst the incredible creatives and leaders who applied from within WELD, so we were floored when we found out we’d been chosen by a dynamic panel of outside judges, whose spheres of work and influence are humbling. It was such a timely and massive contribution to our efforts to launch Little Voices Are Loud, and we’re still reeling with gratitude.
WE'RE JUST GETTING STARTED
On September 21st, we officially released the website and our signature Changemaker Boxes. We hosted our launch party at WELD Nashville just one week prior, a celebration which felt full circle since this was where the idea became possible, thanks to such an outstanding community.
We’ve chosen to begin our efforts by building out components surrounding Peace, Environment, and Equality. To learn more about our partners and the Changemaker Box, click here.
WE CREATE BETTER TOGETHER
To the WELD community and to everyone who supported steps of this journey -- thank you! Little Voices Are Loud became possible because of a shared vision to see the world become a kinder, braver, more aware place. It stemmed from a mutual belief that the younger generation deserves ways to learn, engage, and be empowered to make their voices heard.
This last year has shown our team that if you’re courageous enough to take one step after another, dream big, and ask boldly, anything is possible.