SHE-MOJI, A MUCH NEEDED GIRL GANG AT YOUR FINGERTIPS
It's impossible for a person to reach their potential if they're not given the tools and language to express themselves. Three WNW Members took notice that emoji, while a fun, easy and increasingly popular tool for communication, offer a shortcut to a whole collection of troubling stereotypes. They've taken charge, creating She–Moji. It's an emoji keyboard, for women. We spoke to Melbourne-born and New York-based WNW Members Nirmala Shome, Noemie Le Coz and Karina de Alwis, who share the origin story of She-Moji and tell us why a miniature girl gang is long overdue:
"The standard emoji keyboard reduces female identities to brides, princesses and dancers, with female activities centered around getting nails or hair done. As professional women in the field of digital and design, we decided to put our skills to work and change all of this – as a small, yet globally-accessible move towards a better representation of women all over the world. Red-headed yogis. Blondes with sass. A black belt karate master with an afro. A latina astronaut. An Indian chef. Even an African-American goth."
The She–Moji keyboard for iPhone launched July 8 worldwide – available on the App Store. It includes 400+ original emoji, including women representing all shapes and colors, professions, activities, outfits and nationalities, plus a slew of powerful call outs like Slay All Day, Kween and Om. As if that isn't enough, they're also donating 50% of app profits from the App Store to the Malala Fund, which strives to ensure every girl has access to 12 years of free, safe, quality primary and secondary education.
P.S. They're calling all emoji users to help them build the She–Moji girl gang and tell them what you want to see in the next release. Use #MAKEMYSHEMOJI, or reach out via Twitter: @shemojiapp, Instagram: @she.moji, or Email: email@example.com
How was the idea for She-Moji born?
During a casual night in, we started talking about the need for a better range of female emoji, and decided that maybe instead of talking about it, we could actually make it! We’ve been working in digital and design for so long, we were excited to do something together and put our skills towards something we really cared about.
Why is it important that something as seemingly innocuous as an emoji keyboard be carefully considered and as inclusive as possible?
Emoji have grown into their own lexicon and we see them more and more in everyday communications. Even though they seem frivolous, emoji play a huge role in the way we communicate, and affect how we subliminally think about women. We understand that the native emoji keyboard can’t include everything, for everyone, but we’ve all become far too comfortable working around the skewed offering, and retrofitting our messages to work with the limited set.
We hope She-Moji helps reiterates the need for better female emoji in the official Unicode set.
What were some of the challenges in making sure no woman was left behind? How did you ensure that She-Moji reached its potential in this regard?
While we tried to make sure we covered many bases we just couldn’t get them all in – we had a list as tall as us and just had to focus on our MVP so we could get this to market. We spoke to friends and relatives and settled on the current set – but this is just the beginning.
Which She-Mojis are your favorites?
Bad ass skateboarder
Black Belt Jiu Jitsu Master
BFFs in bathing suits
What’s your hope for She-Moji’s impact? What’s next?
Our initial intention with this first release was to spark a conversation around the lack of female representation in the native set of emoji – a conversation that people (including us!) have been too comfortable to ignore. Plus, we would love to be able to reach out to the Malala Fund with a sizable donation to help move their programs forward.
Beyond this first release, our plans are simple – to continue to expand our She-Moji girl gang! There are so many we thought of but didn’t get to include for launch, which we want to add in the next round. Also in the inclusive She-Moji spirit, we want people to send in their She-Moji requests with the hashtag #makemyshemoji – effectively empowering our audience to decide what’s included in the next generation.
As well as expanding the She-Moji options themselves, we hope to roll out to Android too, if we are able to grow our user base enough.
You’re donating 50% of app store profits. What makes The Malala Fund a fitting partner for She-Moji?
We knew we wanted to donate 50% of our profits to a women’s charity from day one. There are so many emoji apps out there now, we didn’t want to just add to the clutter without trying to make a real impact.
Malala herself is synonymous with inclusivity, and advocating for women everywhere. We all followed her story and her work long before we started this project, so she immediately came to mind.
The Malala Fund works to provide 12 years of safe, quality education for all girls. So we really felt this organization aligned with the philosophy and inclusive nature that She–Moji itself was built on.
What do each of you do when Not Working?
When I’m not working, I’m busy working on my side projects with my super talented mates. I also love being active and am a self confessed health freak who is addicted to yoga.
I’m a nerdy designer at heart and probably never not designing up something ridiculous in my head. I also love laughing more than anything – I try to sneak in time for re-runs of Seinfeld and Absolutely Fabulous whenever I have couch time (which is less than I’d like these days!)
Every time I'm asked this question, I make a mental note to get a hobby! When I'm not working, I love a good girls’ night out, or even just having friends around for dinner.
Anything else you’d like to add?