Ingrid Bell Autonomy Design

Autonomy with Ingrid Bell

Ingrid Bell Autonomy DesignCreative Strategist, co-owner of Autonomy Design and all round inspirational woman, Ingrid Bell, spoke to us about being an entrepreneur with her soul mate and husband Chad.

Why do you do what you do? 

I grew up submerged in creativity with a teacher mother and philosopher farther who taught us to challenge our own thinking, thus I think becoming a creative strategist was an inevitable career choice.

How would you describe yourself?

A fearless big dreamer and doer that always inspire others to think the unthinkable – hence our company name, Autonomy. But it kinda contradicts itself because nothing I have ever done was not done being terrifyingly fearful…funny that! I still want to throw up every time before I present an almighty new idea to a boardroom full of people.

What do you love about being an entrepreneur / having your own business?

  • That nobody can stop us dreaming & creating.
  • That we can choose who we want to do business with. I’m grateful that God has guided us in being successful, making the right business decisions, so that we do not have to fear where the money will come from when we dismiss an unsuitable client.

What’s your biggest work challenge?

It will be finding time. We work with amazing, wonderful and creative clients who are respectful and grateful for what we deliver and also, they give us a lot of freedom to explore our creativity and then to create. Awesome! But then we find ourselves never having enough time.

Please share your favourite quote with us:

Aaah, I have too many…you choose.

  • “When you were made a leader, you weren’t given a crown; you were given the responsibility to bring out the best in others.” Jack Welch, Former CEO of General Electric
  • “don’t set me on fire then act like you’re the one burning.” r.h.Sin
  • “he’s proof that you can walk through hell and still be an angel.” r.h.Sin
  • “She wasn’t perfect but the way she learned from her mistakes was.” Mark Anthony

Who has been your biggest inspiration / s? 

Gosh, I’m inspired, daily, by ordinary South Africans doing extraordinary things changing the lives of those around them.

Working mothers inspire me, mothers who get up at 4AM so that they can get a taxi / bus at 6AM to be at work on time and then to stand in a long que to take a bus or taxi for that same journey back home. If you own a car and this awareness does not make you want to stop sweat the small stuff, then nothing will. Finding a transport solution for our country should be at the top of our list.

Then I get inspired by people such as Viktoria Modesta who created and the people who help her make these ingenious prosthetics (it possibly has had the biggest WOW effect on my life)

Then sometimes I inspire myself for having the guts firing a corporate bully who wants your creative soul but is not prepared to pay a fair price for your work or the artists who helped create it and to top it, think they own you at 2AM – way too many of them around!

And then there is the extraordinary Dr Dambisa Moyo – it was watching an interview with her that inspired me to start Pimp My Bizz. If we want to make drastic changes to the situation in our country, then we need to address and converse about issues such as social mobility and income inequality.

Where do you see yourself in five years’ time?

Having started a movement that teaches young people HOW to create and achieve a sustainable competitive advantage, no matter the fields they are pursuing. We need competition. Pablo Picasso couldn’t have created his masterpiece Les Demoiselles d’ Avignon in 1907, a radical departure from traditional European painting, if it weren’t for the looming presence of Henri Matisse. Competition makes us all better. It is both inspiring and productive, we all can benefit from the right kind of competition.

Being the person who invented and produced the 1st 3years of Sistahood on tv, I think gives me permission to say that it pains me to see how TV Networks are using women negatively to gain ratings. So, I probably by then would have created a ratings-hit reality TV show in which women do not bitch slap each other, rather a show that showcase how WAGS use their money to invest in property, the arts or outsmarting each other on the stock exchange, chasing money or smart business and or life decisions.

Having conversations that reveal the pains / uncertainties / stuff we go through as women, stuff that will make you sit up and go OMG! Or how they invest in young fashion designers, creating the best garments for a next do, stuff like that. Life’s stories are way more intriguing than showcasing women around a dinner table throwing wine at each other – that’s so not us! It’s that select all, copy, paste syndrome everyone is following.

What’s your greatest hope for South Africa?

Oh my goodness! Again, I do not have just one. Currently my mind races around two topics, with legs.

  • My hope is that we can find a way to be one again. I would love for the entire country to have one humongous idea box – we are an immensely creative nation and I truly believe the best ideas lie uncovered, hidden in ordinary citizen’s heads and hearts; ideas that can make us thrive as a nation, to love and respect one another.
  • I want South African’s to realize their own inner power.

Every time I go through an applicant’s CV, and I see “I’m a talented, hardworking and passionate creative who goes the extra mile…” it drives me crazy! What does it tell me about you, how does that make you stand out from your competitors, and why are we teaching/learning to write this crap in CVs!? We must STOP “Select All, Copy Paste” these box standard ideas of what “an ideal person” is, because we’re losing ourselves in the process.

We, as South Africans, are way, way too creative for that. Life is not about being the best, it’s about how to be uniquely you! Self-esteem is a secret sauce to success…which incidentally is one of the main reasons I started the Pimp My Bizz pilot project – it’s all about me walking the streets meeting young people, gathering insights which I hope to put to good use in the near future.

Ever since I stood on the glass ceiling of the Zeitz MOCAA in Cape Town, which features El Loko’s Cosmic Alphabet, I am wondering about how we all can become human again. Regarding this work of his, El Loko states the following, “I have a dream to establish one language for the entire world, create only one way of communication between all human beings on earth. This new way would erase discrimination and racism among all people because they would feel they all belong to the same culture…

A country in which nobody pays for DATA, where every South African would possess a laptop that costs less than R500 so that everyone has access to the kind of information and knowledge that would make us become more aware. We have lost so much over the years, during apartheid and now, that this should be a life prerequisite – it should be about how we all can benefit from that, getting educated / informed faster – going back to what inspires me about Dr Dambisa Moyo’s teachings.


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