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008: Representation in Design with Chantel Ragoo

Updated: Feb 1, 2022

I can’t wait for you to hear this episode related to the very important work happening in social justice activism and the critical anti-racism work here at home and around the world. This episode coincides with Scholar Strike for Black Lives in Canada happening on September 9 and 10, 2020. Thousands of academics in higher education will be participating to show solidarity and protest anti-Black, racist and colonial police brutality in the U.S., Canada and elsewhere. During the Scholar Strike, we will pause our teaching and administrative duties. The idea is to use this time to organize opportunities to discuss, reflect and take action on police brutality and violence.

Joining me today is my friend and former colleague, Chantel Ragoo, National Sales Director for MOTHER Denim. Chantel now works in the realm of fashion, but she started her career in the design and print production world. She’s excited to share her career path in the design and fashion industries, as well as add her voice to the discussion about Black representation in industry.

Key Notes From My Discussion with Chantel:

  • No two days are the same as a National Sales Director for a fashion brand!

  • Anything goes in in the world of fashion and design, art and music so there’s no need to set creative limits

  • Communication, time management and teamwork skills are transferable to lots of different industries so use the opportunities in school to hone them!

  • Chantel finds one of the most challenging aspects of her work is to ensure that she’s not taken advantage of (in terms of the amount of time worked, for example)

  • Work-life balance is challenging

  • Asking for help is important

  • Stop, drop and roll really works

  • Working with a great team, taking time to have fun and having goals to hit bring Chantel joy in her work

  • Chantel believes that the reason only an estimated 3% of graphic designers are Black is because of lack of opportunity; the fact that they don’t see it as an accessible career path

  • To help promote greater inclusion at a university level in the world of design and print, we can work to incorporate touch conversations into our lectures, help organize fundraising efforts as a class and ultimately, recognizing the responsibility that those of us with white privilege have

  • Chantel is her middle name and she has found that muting her first name has (unfortunately) opened up opportunities for her

  • It’s about equity, not equality; getting the right tools in the hands on the people to level the playing field

  • It’s not enough to say you don’t like something; come to the table with an idea or solution to move thought into action

  • “If you know better, do better.” - Chantel’s Mom

  • But Chantel believes that when it comes to the Black Lives Matter movement, not enough people have the critical information they need to do better

  • Difficult conversations are hard for everyone but they still need to happen

  • It’s everyone’s job to learn about anti-racism; it’s not on the Black community to teach us

  • Just because Chantel’s a Black woman, she wants us to know that she doesn’t have all the answers, that she’s still learning and that it’s an ongoing process

  • There are so many resources to learn about these important issues that cost no money to access - they’re free! There are no excuses!

  • Performative anti-racism is not an option; we can’t just say ‘Black Lives Matter’, we have to prove it

  • Consider doing more than donating money; consider donating your time to organizations that support the cause

  • It’s important not to typecast Black women as “strong, Black women” because it’s setting a potentially unrealistic standard to live up to and it can make it hard to ask for help

  • Chantel’s success tips:

    • Being good to the people around you, especially when you are young and starting out in an industry, can be paramount to your success because you’re creating good energy for yourself and building a strong reputation

    • Take initiative and don’t be afraid to make mistakes

    • “If you don’t ask, you will never get!” - Chantel’s Dad

    • Seek out like minded people to become connected within industry and outside of your industry who offer a unique perspective is important to success

    • Pay it forward - become a mentor (formal or informal) and give people a chance

    • Be passionate about what you’re doing


Music by Podington Bear: Flutterbee

Talk Paper Scissors Theme Music: Retro Quirky Upbeat Funk by Lewis Sound Production via Audio Jungle


Boat Origami Photo: Boat Origami Photo by Alex on Unsplash

Chantel Ragoo

Equality vs. Equity: Equality vs. Equity graphic kit

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