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It’s that YunoJuno time of year again…

Updated: Dec 21, 2019

I can hear you already: “the what time of year”?

Those of us in the creative industry will know exactly what time of year it is - the loyal ones would have campaigned for their respective colleagues..

But for those of you who aren’t in the know, the annual YunoJuno Sweet FA (Freelance Awards) took place two weeks ago. I know - people usually harp on about things in the run up, but being like everyone else is no fun!

Althea James and Shawn Appel infront of the YunoJuno Sweet FA neon light
Loving the moment with 2018 Designer of the Year award winner (and ex-colleague) Shawn Appel

TRUTH ALERT: ideally I would have published this post earlier, but I had already written my pre-birthday post when I got a sneak preview of the awards date. So I had to style it out and talk about the awards retrospectively.

Back to the subject…

“But what is a YunoJuno though?” I hear you asking.

YunoJuno is a community in which freelancers and employers in the creative and tech industry sectors are seamlessly connected.

It is an invite-only network and platform, and is industry-validated. Frustrated to death of the manual process, its founders knocked heads to birth YunoJuno’s concept in 2012:

“a community and platform by which quality freelancers and great clients could connect with each other in a direct, transparent and cost-effective way” - Shib Mathew, CEO and Co-Founder of YunoJuno.

AND they gave it a kick ass name. I know right! You CAN have it all!

Shawn Appel kissing his designer of the year award
Another happy freelancer (Shawn Appel, Design 2018)

Why do I feel the need to talk about it?

Because I know exactly how warm and fuzzy these awards make you feel inside.

Real talk though, I won the Project Manager of the year category in 2017.

It feels amazing to see, think and feel the appreciation that people have for you - to have even been nominated and shortlisted was amazing. Not to mention the level of camaraderie in the venue - it was on 100!

Given that I started freelancing because I felt slightly unappreciated (but I also needed to present myself with the opportunity to grow in ways that I couldn’t in a permanent role), the award played a massive role in my recognition of my worth.

Althea James on the Freelancer Awards webpage
Claiming my spot on The Freelancer Awards page (

That was when I really paid attention to YunoJuno as a community. It isn’t just a place that I check when I need a contract or a PO number for my invoice - it offers a platform, a forum, and a network where everyone can feel welcome. I have taken non-freelancers to their events and they have loved them as well as learned from them.

Althea and Veronique at the YunoJuno awards
If there was a Programme Director of the Year category, this lass would defo get it

What gave me the push to freelance?

I toyed with the idea of freelancing way before I had the balls to do it.

“But what is there to be afraid of?” I hear you ask?

There’s the uncertainty, late invoice payments, the unpaid time off, and the biggest one for many people is not being able to hide under the cover of being a permanent staff member - you are more exposed, more expendable, and have to prove yourself over and over and over and over...again.

But once I dived into it, I realised how much I had been under-selling myself - the rest is history! The 2017 award win sealed the deal for me - see the highlights below:

What did the decision making process look like?

The seed was sewn ages ago (definitely pre-2012) when a valued friend told me to go for it. He also told me to read “the 4-Hour Workweek” by Tim Ferris. He knew what he was doing when he offered that gem. However, I decided that I’ll read it at some point when I could make the time to. Plus I had to gain more experience right?!

Althea James Model has read The 4-Hour Workweek by Tim Ferris
A highly recommended must read

Then around 2014-ish, I toyed with the idea again, but another freelancer talked me out of it, citing all of the cons that people don’t consider.

Sidenote: never let anyone talk you out of something you want to do - if it was that bad, they would stop doing it.

At this very time, a good friend/colleague called Matt who had not long started freelancing at the time said to me (insert cockney accent) “wat you waitin for? Jus’ sign up to YunoJuno and you’ll get paid every week - sweet innit?!”. Something like that.

Then cue my career path being forced in a direction that I didn’t like, and the death of a close loved one and that was it! I really had nothing to lose.

Then I actually read The 4-hour Work Week and it was a wrap.

That, alongside my sister (who believed in me more than I did) and I had all the confirmation that I needed to take the leap of faith and jfdi [for those who don't know]!

And the constant nudges from my Sensei.

And an amazing performance coach who identified that the main thing that I allowed to get in the way was the financial transition - which really wasn’t a problem in the end.

Coins and a clock to connote 'Time is Money'
Time is money, but don't let the financials hold you back

Tell me more about the awards then!

They are known as the Sweet FA (Freelance Awards) and in a nutshell they promote the recognition of quality work within the freelance industry.

To cite Shib, the YunoJuno awards “recognise and celebrate the immense value freelancers add to our [creative] industry and the growing impact they are having on how companies deliver the best work”.

Althea James Model and Shib Mathew - CEO and Co-Founder of YunoJuno
Me and Shib Mathew at the 2018 Awards (CEO and Co-Founder of YunoJuno)

Project Management is very often a thankless role, with many Project Managers feeling like they are often remembered when projects go off the rails. But I must admit when I received the award for Project Manager of the year (2017), it changed that perception for me and many others around me.

It was also conducive to offers of contracts without interviews - the award spoke volumes.

It didn’t end there. In 2018, previous award winners were invited to present awards to the new winners. The member-to-member gesture added to the feeling of belonging to the community.

Me and my colleague were also in the shortlist for our category - so either way I was going up on that stage!

And...those of you with a sharp eye will have spotted me on YunoJuno’s website - previous Sweet FA winners were invited to model (shoot) for the 2018 website rebrand and of course I jumped at the opportunity to refine the professional model in me.

Coz thats what YunoJuno do (drops mic)...

Althea James and other Freelancers posing for the YunoJuno website rebrand
YunoJuno's 2018 website rebrand

…(picks mic up again) the time of writing this post, I didn't yet know that I was going to be a finalist for the 2019 Sweet FA awards. I also knew a few others who were nominated and shortlisted, and as a freelance community we were all rooting for each other.

YunoJuno pulled out all the stops with their superhero themed event and although I didn't win YunoJuno made every single finalist feel like winners. I know a huge smile formed on my face when I received my package from YunoJuno with my 2019 finalist gift.

The email that Althea James model received to let her know that she has been nominated to be shortlisted for the YunoJuno Sweet FAs
Receiving this email is the best feeling

So to wrap it up, YunoJuno is a network, community, platform, and a forum for the recognition of unsung heroes. There’s more than likely going to be a 2020 Sweet FA taking place, so there’s another chance for the recognition of those within the network. Now why wouldn’t I want to be a part of this amazing community?!

Althea James and YunoJuno freelancer models posing against a wall
YunoJuno freelancers run these streets. Well maybe just the creatve freelance patch.

Those of you who have been religiously reading my blog posts (thank you by the way) will know that I am going to give you a link to something vaguely related to what I have spoken about. Not much about my modelling portfolio when you think about it but hey!

This time, I want to highlight Matt - the first person who I ever heard say “YunoJuno”, and Karl.

Matt and Karl are co-owners of Almanac Digital - so if you know anyone who has any digital needs (and I mean any), they CAN do it. Click here to check their work out.

Keep up with my selfie shenanigans on my modelling profile on Insta: @althie_model

Subscribe here to receive notifications when my posts are published fortnightly.

View my YunoJuno shoot pics in my model portfolio here

Laters x

About the author [that would be me]:

I am a Senior Project Manager by day; by night (aka any other time), you can find me lifting heavy metal things (aka powerlifting), threatening to dust off my belt in the name of Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu (I will make myself re-worthy of my blue belt), or finding ways to get infront of a camera and labelling it as modelling in some way shape or form.

I started this blog as an add-on to my modelling portfolio, and it reminded me of how much I love to write. I will continue to write as my model portfolio grows, just so that you can get to know the real me.

Althea James model x


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