Emily Coxhead has amassed quite the CV: Graphic Design graduate, illustrator, photographer, Head Letter Writer for One Million Lovely Letters, designer and all-around creative ball of ‚Äúa fluffy haired, smiley kinda’ thing.‚Äù¬†Although inevitably busy, I was pleasantly surprised when she agreed to be interviewed for Girl Museum.
Emily‚Äôs newest project, The Happy Newspaper,¬†released¬†this month, is described as being ‚Äúbroken down into months as well as additional features; Food, Lifestyle, Travel‚Ä¶ and the most important ‚ÄòEveryday Heroes‚Äô.‚Äù Emily says that¬†he newspaper focuses on ‚Äúpositives to every story, most of the time – and I want to celebrate those people, the people who don‚Äôt expect to be praised for what they do on a day-to-day basis, those who have turned horrific events into a time to be proud of humanity, the people who didn‚Äôt help somebody else to go viral on Facebook but because they make me believe this world has the potential to be better.‚Äù
When I asked what had inspired The Happy Newspaper to come to fruition, she gave a self-confessed 700-word ‚Äúramble.‚Äù Unable to pin The Happy Newspaper to one ‚Äòeureka‚Äô moment, she said, ‚Äúthere have been lots of pieces that contributed to the idea of The Happy Newspaper, it seems to have been in my mind for a long time.‚Äù Yet, through the interview, it becomes apparent Emily took inspiration from three major turning points in her life.
Graduating from University, ‚Äúno matter how good a degree you get, none of that can guarantee you a job, I realised quite early on in my time at uni that having initiative was the biggest thing. If you want something you‚Äôve got to go get it, whether you succeed or fail doesn‚Äôt really matter too much, you‚Äôll always learn from both. I decided I wanted to go it alone and set up my own freelance business, doing what I love.‚Äù
Becoming the ‚ÄòHead Letter Writer‚Äô for One Million Lovely Letters by Jodi Bickley (if you‚Äôve not heard of it, this TEDx Talk by Jodi is extraordinary), ‚Äúinvolves sending handwritten letters out to strangers who have emailed in, whether they or somebody they know needs a little lift – We will write them a letter and post it, just to remind people how amazing they are. We all need a little reminder every now and then.‚Äù
Then there’s Emily’s¬†project Little Boxes of Happy Things,¬†‚Äúlittle pieces of happiness in as well as handwritten notes which were intended to help anybody going through a difficult time‚Ä¶ a year on and these tiny boxes have been shipped to all different corners of the world.‚Äù
This was the beginning of The Happy Newspaper; ‚Äúmonths passed and I still had this idea whizzing around my brain, each person I mentioned it to said I must make it happen.‚Äù Then in January 2015, ‚ÄúI scribbled a drawing of a newspaper clipping with a few pieces of good news that had happened with the title ‚ÄòThe Happy News‚Äô, weirdly it came after the Charlie Hebdo attacks in Paris. I posted an image on Instagram with the caption ‚ÄòIf only this was a thing‚Ä¶‚Äô‚Äù
And her aim for The Happy Newspaper? ‚ÄúI really hope that this will begin to create a bit of a ripple effect and just make people think about the world we‚Äôre living and how can we can make positive changes in the tiniest ways.‚Äù
When asked if she defines herself as a feminist, Emily spoke about how she does, and eloquently the ways in which feminism itself is defined: ‚Äúa Feminist is not a certain type of person or group of people, it is anybody who believes that men and women should have equal rights and opportunities‚Ä¶ It‚Äôs men who believe that their wives, daughters, mothers, and sisters should be granted equal pay and equal respect. I think the way Emma Watson has approached her ‚ÄòHe For She‚Äô campaign is spot on.‚Äù
Emily‚Äôs fondest memories of girlhood read like a highlight reel of the 1990s, ‚ÄúSpice Girls (Baby Spice), Art Attack, Jacqueline Wilson/Tracy Beaker, Polly Pockets, (sequin) Crop Tops, Skirt/Trousers, SMTV Live, Eliza Thornberry etc etc‚Ä¶ I couldn‚Äôt choose!‚Äù Yet, the advice she would give to her 90s girl self would be, ‚Äúcontinue to follow your dreams and do what you love, there will be set-backs and struggles but if you want something enough you will make it happen. Work hard, be kind and stay humble.‚Äù
Social media has become a big part of Emily‚Äôs work; ‚Äúit‚Äôs kind of weird because a lot of people have started using my Instagram as a bit of an online portfolio,‚Äù so I asked her opinion of social media. ‚ÄúPeople can be so naive online, scrolling through somebody else‚Äôs Instagram / Facebook / Twitter / Whatever and automatically comparing themselves to that person. We‚Äôve all done it, but what we all know and choose to sometimes forget is that the photos and stuff that people post online is often a distorted reinterpretation of our ‚Äòreal‚Äô lives, it‚Äôs like looking through somebody‚Äôs highlight reel.‚Äù
A constant theme amongst her work and her social media presence is happiness. ‚ÄúI‚Äôm so glad that I can add a little bit of positivity to a persons scroll through on Instagram, and it means the whole world when people contact me to say I‚Äôve picked them up or made them smile on a rubbish day just through a little handwritten note or something that I‚Äôve posted – But that doesn‚Äôt mean I don‚Äôt have rubbish days too!‚Äù
Happiness, whether that be having or sharing, is evidently Emily‚Äôs aspiration: when asked her proudest achievement… ‚ÄúBeing awarded the ‚ÄòBiggest Smile‚Äô when I left high school‚Ä¶ Ha!‚Äù
Girl Museum Inc.