Joan Westenberg launches PR and advertising firm Studio Self

Writer and creative director, Joan Westenberg, has opened public relations and advertising firm, Studio Self.

Westenberg said she is the first openly transgender woman in Australia to be running a PR and advertising agency. Studio Self is one of five firms globally that are run by transgender women, the agency said.

“Starting my own advertising and creative studio was one of the biggest risks I’ve ever taken. The data shows that 0.1% of creative agencies worldwide are owned and operated by women, and the number of firms run by transgender women globally is less than five,” she said.

“I wanted to prove that who I was didn’t limit what I do – and that in fact, it informs, guides and shapes it in a way that other founders could never reach. The way I tell stories, and the stories I choose to tell are directly influenced by my unique perspective, and the people I work with love and embrace that.”

Westenberg is the first Australian transgender woman to run a PR and advertising firm

Studio Self enables Westernberg to be selective with clients she works, ensuring they reflect her own values. She believes her unique outlook, driven by her identity, is a competitive advantage in the market.

The agency’s work is focused on helping tech brands communicate with audiences in an empathetic and accessible way.

Westenberg’s background is in technology firms and startups. She was inspired to launch her own firm following the difficulties she faced finding work after her transition.

“In the space of six months, I went from being headhunted by tech firms to not being able to get an interview at a dog food subscription startup, and the reasons I was suddenly being given were that I wasn’t a culture fit, or that I didn’t have enough experience,” she said.

Previously, she has worked in content, communications and marketing roles for Karrikans Group, Speedlancer, Fishburners and Flare. She has also written for Junkee, the AFR, SBS and ABC.

Studio Self’s foundation clients include VR studio Mod, digital wills platform, and Southern Cross Beef.

Mish Sparks, COO of Studio Mod, praised Studio Self’s work.

“Joan’s work with us through Studio Self was creative, effective and impactful. Working on a short timeframe and a tight deadline, she was able to weave an engaging narrative around our work, including coverage in The Australian,” Sparks said.


Get the latest media and marketing industry news (and views) direct to your inbox.

Sign up to the free Mumbrella newsletter now.



Sign up to our free daily update to get the latest in media and marketing.