We asked her big questions about feminism and creativity. Here’s what she had to say:

How would you describe your creative practice?

Fluid and constantly in flow.

Can you share any stories from your creative career when being a womxn was a focus, for better or worse?

Womxn are naturally more intuitive, and I’ve always found this both an advantage and a disadvantage in my career.

A womxn can walk into a conference room and immediately know someone is upset before anyone opens their mouth. This innate ability be be attuned to the world around you is an unspoken strength that can help build strong, trusting relationships, allow you to hold space for others, and create clarity in chaos. But it can also be a double-edged sword, because it can be easy to take on the emotions of others and carry the weight of responsibility for your team’s stress.

I’ve learned there’s a beauty in balance when it comes to the feminine intuition. While it can feel rewarding to take care of your team, there is power in taking care of yourself first. When you show up for yourself, you are better prepared to show up for others.

Emma painting

Photograph by Emma Highley

Almonds in a paper cup on a white notebook embossed with Dropbox's logo.

Photograph by Emma Highley

Who do you look up to for career inspiration?

I admire every person who speaks up in the face of fear and owns their power and their voice. There’s something uniquely beautiful when someone is truly living their purpose and voicing their truth. It’s inspirational, and empowers others to do the same.

How do you train your creative muscle?

I get curious. I inquire about the why and how behind ideas. By keeping an open mind, new ideas come from anywhere and everywhere, allowing for creativity to flow.

How do you navigate anxiety about work?

If I ever feel anxiety start to creep in while at work, I take a moment to breathe, ground down, and take a moment to myself. I’ve found just taking a step outside can be extremely healing—the fresh air helps get oxygen pumping through your lungs, and changing your atmosphere physically allows your mind to reset. By taking a few moments to settle my thoughts, I’m able to be a better person, coworker, and friend.

Emma mapped out her creative thinking on sticky notes and stuck them in an arranged fashion on the wall.

Photograph by Emma Highley

Emma sits on a bench with one foot out, computer resting on the bench. There is a laptop sticker that says "The world needs your feminist energy."

Photograph by Emma Highley

What do you want to be doing in five years?


What’s the best career advice you’ve received?

Be yourself. Everyone else is already taken.

What is one way that we can make work human?

Empathy. Humans feel things in a unique way. When we start to understand each other on a deeper level, we can start to empathize with how someone feels, thinks, and works. Once we see things through their lens, we can start to build solutions that feel the way they feel, and work the way they work.

What message do you have for womxn in the creative community?

You are you, and that is your power. No one can ever take that away. So embrace your voice, body, mind, whatever you-isms make you you. Only you can be you.

If you enjoyed Emma's story, check out the Ladies Who Create column and request a free copy of Feminist Propaganda, our new magazine that explores identity, feminism, and work.

Latest in Human Interest