Work With Meaning: The Rad Thinking Behind RAD Culture

Interview Jess Nair | Photography Courtesy Of RAD Culture

If you lived in the era pre-social media, you’ll know that there was much less education, awareness and exposure about the struggles of mental health. Whether or not it was because we were less connected so we knew less, or we were actually raised by parents who didn’t know (or realise, or care, really) about mental health — this is open for debate. There just seemed to be less of a focus on our mental and emotional wellbeing.

Fast forward to the life of Gen Z. Social media is a double-edged sword — it’s argued that it can fuel mental health disorders and yet, it can be used as a useful platform to reach out to people who need to know more, need a community of like-minded people, or need to educate themselves about what they’re going through is completely normal. Enter Hanis Faridah, 23 PR Executive and Liz Azalea, 22 ACCA Graduate, founders of RAD Culture (@radcultureofficial).

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RAD Culture was born in July 2018 out of a time of darkness… Hanis came up with the idea to create a platform to bring awareness to heavily stigmatised social issues in Malaysia and around the world when she was mourning the loss of her sister. “Back in March 2018, my sister passed away due to cancer after battling it for almost two years. That was admittedly the most difficult time in my life. Her passing had left me feeling helpless which caused me to spiral into anxiety and later on, depression. It made me realise that I shouldn’t wait for the right moment or opportunity to come by, hence why I decided to visualise that dream of mine by starting my own community organisation,” said Hanis. The pair’s aim was to promote and bring about a renewed culture which breeds an informed and unified society where both representation and diversification are deeply embedded.

Hanis (left) and Liz (right) are fully aware of what they wanted to do with RAD Culture as a mental health platform

There was definitely a gap for Gen Zs to have access to more knowledge about mental health… “As someone who was struggling with her mental health at that point, I realised that not enough is being done to tackle the stigma surrounding mental illnesses. It was an opportunity for RAD Culture to fulfill its purpose in building greater awareness and educating the society, mainly  Millennials and Gen Z,” said Hanis. Personally, what appealed to me most about the idea of building RAD Culture was that it was a great opportunity for me to play an active role in contributing to the society and bring people of the same interest together. As part of the society, I think there needs to be a deep sense of urgency in educating ourselves on the issues that exist and matter in this world, regardless of whether a direct impact can be seen or not,” said Liz.

How did they find a partner in each other? Sometimes, all it takes an idea, its potential, and the right person to be right by your side to work towards your vision. Hanis knew that person was in Liz. “I knew in order for RAD Culture to grow and reach its potential, I needed a partner who is equally as passionate as I am about these issues and what RAD stands for. So, I pitched the idea to Liz and she agreed. From there, we brainstorm ideas and make our vision for RAD Culture turn into a reality,” she revealed. “I was all for it. As someone who is deeply invested in the social issues myself and is constantly seeking to create an impact in the society, I was immediately interested to join her in creating RAD Culture even though at that time, I was quite busy with my professional exam papers,” explained Liz.

 

 

And it’s not easy to work with a friend, but it can always work. “Hanis and I still face typical challenges when it comes to adapting to each other’s different work styles and schedules … Regardless, we do try to make up for all of that by Facetiming and updating each other as often as possible in order to make sure we don’t neglect our platform. We found that it was also helpful for us to be honest and openly communicate with each other at all times in order to trust each other better and avoid any sort of misunderstanding,” explained Liz.

What makes them “not just another mental health Insta account”? “… [B]y empowering people with the knowledge and awareness as to what is really going on. Instead of merely reporting on the issues that are happening, we make it a point to curate our content from reliable sources and draw out different angles on how we make people understand those issues in a clearer light and feel more encouraged to keep themselves informed on those issues,” said Liz. And a lot of the time, people place competition over collaboration. That’s detrimental to a platform such as this, because it detracts from authenticity. “we speak their language, and we know that they care deeply about social issues be it in Malaysia or Worldwide. It is them that pushes us to constantly evolving to curate content that matters. There wasn’t any competition because we aren’t about competing with anyone in the first place, it has always been a community over competition at RAD Culture and we aim to do just that. In fact, we welcome them and would love to collaborate with them!” said Hanis.

 

 

They made themselves stand out… By having the authentic story as to why it exists. “We both made sure that we put careful thought behind every post that comes out—this means allocating proper time, research and understanding into creating the content and coming up with our own designs for our feed,” said Liz.

How do they speak to the generation of now? And just putting up content for the sake of content is not the way to go.  “Having being exposed to the communications world, I realized that often times putting out content does not suffice for social media channels. What brand needs are authenticity, visual-pleasing aesthetics accompany with quality content. That is how I feel we can attract and grow our audiences, especially the Millennials and Gen Z,” explained Hanis. “The love and appreciation that we get from our followers mean so much to us, even if it is the smallest of gestures such as seeing them like and share our posts as well as going out of their way to personally reach out to us just to simply express their thoughts on a certain issue and just give us some feedback which we make a point to address every time we create new content,” said Liz.

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