Behind the scenes with Root, the creative agency bringing data-led sustainability to the industry
In conversation with Ellie Brown, January 12, 2023
People — Art, Photography
For the cover shoot with designer Josephine Jones, Present Space worked with Root Creative Global to ensure that every stage of the process, from pre- to post-production, was delivered in as green a way possible. Root is the brainchild of fashion editor and stylist Sam Carder, and photographer and creative director, Mollie Rose, whose combined twenty years of experience in the industry has been brought together to set about making real change. The pair met on a shoot and realised they had a lot of shared values, leading to a slick video campaign, Plastic-less (2019), centred around reducing plastic consumption – from using bamboo toothbrushes to growing herbs. But as Sam explains over Zoom to Present Space, ‘we were going to shoot the second round of it, and then basically COVID happened’. But the pandemic did not quell the duo’s desire to continue to create change in the industry.
Present Space worked with Root Creative Global for one of the cover shoots to ensure that every stage of the process, from pre- to post-production, was delivered in as green a way possible. Cover star Josephine Jones was the first transgender designer to present a collection at London Fashion Week AW19. Since then, Jones has graced the pages of British Vogue and walked the runway for other young designers, too. Root, meanwhile, is the brainchild of Creative Director and Stylist Sam Carder, and Creative Director and Photographer, Mollie Rose Skeffington, whose combined twenty years of experience in the industry has been brought together to set about making real change.
Root is a carbon negative creative agency disrupting the behaviour of the advertising industry. They offer green, radical solutions to produce better campaigns with no compromise on the creative output. Working with Root Creative Global means that the cover shoot for Josephine Jones was 7 times more responsible than a “business as usual” shoot, with an 86% reduction in carbon emissions. Chatting with Present Space, Sam and Mollie explain how Root operates, and how they use data to calculate and measure their impact.
A commitment to transparency is the driving force behind the campaigns Root work on, who use comparative data to determine how less carbon and waste emissions can be used on shoot production. As Sam explains, “at script stage we begin by predicting carbon and waste emissions for a ‘business as usual’ shoot, using data supplied by AdGreen - an organisation which aims to unite the advertising industry behind a move to net-zero.” Sam and Mollie factor in their combined twenty years of advertising experience with AdGreen’s figures to predict the emissions for a business as usual shoot set up. “We then work backwards using Root’s Solution Stamps to eliminate carbon and waste emissions” which enables the agency to present clients with a green solution. “Post-shoot, we present the comparative data to our clients.”
Meeting the Solution Stamps means Root has to be savvy when it comes to their approach, and the pair are keen to point out that their mission is to never compromise on luxury and their creative output. “Our Solution Stamps encourage us to harness the power for good and challenge our creative thinking,” Mollie says. To achieve this on the Present Space shoot with Gucci, Root worked with a number of companies who make it possible to create a luxury output in a greener way, such as employing the sustainable production company Perma Collective to help produce the shoot.
Working collaboratively, production on the shoot met twelve of Root’s fourteen Solution Stamps. To name a few: no waste was sent to landfill, with anything that could be recycled, and general waste collected by First Mile to produce green energy (any food waste was collected by Sam to feed the 500 worms in his wormery), meeting the ‘waste solution’stamp. Transport on the day was provided by Zhero couriers, whose electric push-powered bikes were used to move equipment, clothes, sets, and so on - that’s the ‘green couriers and cars’ stamp. A refillable water tank was provided by Thirsty Works, ensuring that all water bottles were reusable and not plastic. In all, Root only used 60kg to create Present Space with Gucci, saving a predicted 380kg of carbon and waste emissions compared with their business as usual figures.
e to share the comparative data that clearly sets out where, and how, an 86% reduction in emissions is achieved. With each campaign that the agency works on, Root produces bespoke, shareable statistics that sets out the steps taken, collaboratively, to make a responsible campaign. This commitment to transparency means that clients, like Present Space, can be proud of working on a shoot in a cleaner, more responsible way - without the risk of greenwashing.
But Root’s work isn’t just about enabling a greener way of creating editorial and advertising campaign work. As their mission statement notes, “we cannot achieve earth justice without social justice.” Inclusion and fair representation are equally important. One of Root’s key statistics for the Present Space shoot is that 60% of crew on set identified as women, for example. They aim to go further, however, as Sam explains, “our mission statement is to disrupt behaviour from within and the only way we’re really going to do that is with education.” The aim is to get a new generation into the industry, especially those without the connections or advantages to otherwise get into the industry. For that reason, Root works with Equal Access Network (part of Film London) to provide more opportunities to young individuals in inner cities whilst also establishing a greener mindset from the get-go.
At the time of writing, Root are developing six more stamps, and as the agency grows, they’ll inevitably have to identify and address new problems. Being able to adapt is a crucial part of Root’s foundation, and informs the company’s mission to still be creating green, radical campaigns one hundred years from now.
Photographer CATHARINA PAVITSCHITZ
Creative Direction ROOT CREATIVE GLOBAL
Production PERMA COLLECTIVE
Photography Assistant JORDAN KILFORD
Hair and Make-Up TOM EASTO USING GUCCI BEAUTY
Set Designer CIARAN BEALE
Model JOSEPHINE JONES AT ELITE MODEL MANAGEMENT
Fashion Assistant KATIE SELBY
All clothes GUCCI
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