This article is a sponsored collaboration between Squarespace and PAPER
"You don't have to take a traditional job — you don't have to be a doctor, lawyer, or anything of that nature in order to succeed," says Scrill Davis, a rising Atlanta-based photographer and videographer who's worked with everyone from Flo Milli to Cardi B. "I'm living proof."
In partnership with Squarespace, the all-in-one website and e-commerce platform, PAPER connected with early-career creatives of color who continue to champion a legacy of radical inclusivity through their brands and work. Featuring Davis, along with Jezz Chung and Uzumaki Cepeda, "Making Space" spotlights these young entrepreneurs, who are beacons showcasing the necessity of equitable, inclusive spaces — both online and IRL.
Set inside a sterile room with matching white chairs, Davis, Chung and Cepeda are shown bringing in their own fresh perspectives on what it means to be content creators in spaces where their viewpoints and identities are not often reflected. By taking up rightful space, their stories offer inspiration to those like them coming up looking to carve out non-traditional, creative careers.
Without access to resources or mentorship, young people from marginalized backgrounds aren't always set up to excel. This is an issue that's made Chung revolutionize their relationship to social media and the digital world, using Squarespace as an informational and equitable platform to share information or "expand access," as they explain.
For Cepeda, she not only lacked resources, but also support from her community. "Being a Dominican, young woman, coming from a culture that's super homophobic, transphobic, racist, misogynistic... I felt like I had to create this space, like, force this space open," she says. "Squarespace changed my life in the best way because it did empower me to believe in myself."
Davis' personal dream of photographing magazine cover stories always felt impossible without having access or a traditional portfolio, he admits in "Making Space." By using online platforms to showcase his work, Davis was able to make his aspirations come to life, free of the reliance on or permission from those in the industry.
"I want people to know that there are no limits to your existence," Chung adds as the creatives fill the room with different colorful, eclectic chairs representing the "seats" and perspectives they're creating in homogeneous spaces. "You can be not just accepted, but celebrated for everything you are. We transform the world by transforming ourselves."
With the compounded challenges of fighting to access a world generally gate kept from people like them or not having their community's support, these three creatives have carved out space with their own brands and websites. While it was never easy, they've not only built a community around their values, but they've also been able to transform previously closed-minded perspectives along the way.
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DP: Olivier Lessard
Production: Will Foster
Set design: Eric Vidmar
Styling: Ella Cepeda
Hair and makeup: J. Patrick
Studio: Parlay Studios
Hair (Uzumaki): Hair by Bonita
Makeup (Uzumaki): Ashley Nazario
Nails (Uzumaki): Trinkitz
Wardrobe (Uzumaki): Uzumaki Cepeda