So tell me about your friendship and how it turned into a business partnership?
Well, it all started in 2017 with an email I sent Aundrea with the subject line ‘My first Day’. I had just started in my role as Creative Executive at an online fashion brand, and was told to touch base with our Marketing Manager, Aundrea. She was actually on a work cruise for the brand and emailed me back whilst in the middle of the mediteranian sea asking me to come down to the London office so we could meet. The day we met we knew we were destined to be friends, (Cheesy we know haha). A few weeks after meeting we were asked to organise a trip to launch the brands collaboration with a new beach club in Portugal. Wanting to maximise the trip as much as possible we invited one of the UK’s top influencers Jess Hunt away with us to shoot content. It’s actually on that trip, only 3 months after meeting when we realised how much we loved supporting influencers, creating amazing content and experiences on influencer trips and how we wanted to pursue this further! It was the perfect combination of great content, brand exposure, and authentic coverage, which we knew would make an amazing business model, combining influencer trips with influencer management.Pip
Starting a business is always scary at first or exciting if you look at it the other way, but what were the struggles at the beginning of starting a business like this? Did you feel like there were too many competitors out there? What emotions did you both have?
Starting a business will ALWAYS be exciting AND scary, you have to learn to clap for yourself when nobody else does! Try not to take things personally and learn to let go of a lot of things. At the time of starting Flourish, we didn’t have too many competitors doing what we were doing with our experience and skill set so this was a gap in the market we saw and jumped right at it! However it was also such a new way of working that hadn’t been done before so it took longer for some clients to trust in this new way of marketing over traditional PR. We knew it wouldn’t be easy but I think overall though we always believed in ourselves and our abilities that helped to squash any fear!Drea
We’re also big believers in the Law of Attraction and from the start it was our positive mindsets that kept us pushing forward even through the scary stuff! When we signed our first client Drea and I did a celebratory dance in her front room, you always have to remember at the beginning to celebrate every win, big or small and not sweat the small stuff, as everything will always work out in the end. When we signed our first client, USA based fashion e-tailer “Lulu’s” we knew this was the beginning of something big and we went on to sign a big 6 month retainer with Boohoo the following month. Starting a business is an emotional rollercoaster but as an entrepreneur this is the stuff you live for.Pip
You both have had so much experience prior to starting this business, how important is it to have work experience before starting a business, do you think you need a certain type of experience or a specific number of years of experience?
I don’t think you necessarily need a specific number of years at all, obviously experience in the industry you’d like to start a business in would be useful and advantageous however you learn a lot by doing! And sometimes having some blind faith and a tonne of motivation and passion are all you need. Often you’ll have lots of endeavours that bomb until eventually one cuts through but you take the wins with the losses and trust that life experience is the most valuable part. I would recommend people getting experience where they can though, if you want to be a business owner you need to understand business, it’s as simple as that, it doesn’t matter what industry you choose at the end of the day all business owners will face similar challenges.Drea
I agree with Drea, you can do anything if you put your mind to it, but experience will always be a massive advantage to anyone starting a business. Both Drea and I had experience in multiple industries, Drea gained a lot of experience working in PR in Sydney and owned her own label prior to Flourish so she really knew what it took to launch a business. I worked in every industry going – fitness, fashion, homewares, technology, events working in Brand Marketing, social media marketing , Internal Comms, in store marketing, PR and online marketing. You say it, I will have done it, I used to get told off in interviews for being such a job hopper but I really wanted to find my niche. I believe that my experience in so many industries and sectors enabled me to start Flourish at such a young age, I was only 24 when we launched and now looking back, that seems so young!Pip
Working with influencers and brands sounds glamorous to the outside world, I would agree with you if you say it is not glamorous at times, so tell me what are the struggles that occur occasionally in this industry. And how do you keep up with all the changes in trends and algorithms with social media?
Yep! It is definitely not as glamorous or as polished as it comes across on Instagram! At the end of the day you’re selling a product to real people, and clients will always expect a return on their investment and customers should be treated respectfully. There is no denying that the majority of the content on social media has become paid for advertising, but followers know this and are more likely to engage with a brand/influencer/post if they feel it to be authentic (even if it is paid). Knowing that as the priority will always help steer results from what is perceived as a ‘pretty picture’ to an ‘influential post’ that is relevant, engaging, educational with a call to action.Drea
Keeping up with social media’s ever changing algorithm is always a challenge for every influencer, social media is their livelihood and if they don’t keep up with the algorithms it can really affect their engagement thus affecting their earning potential. Being an influencer isn’t as easy as it looks, a lot of time and effort goes into helping build our influencers careers, understanding what content performs the best, organising creative shoots and trips so they can get the best content, really understanding what their followers love and what the brands need from them as well as baring in mind what the new algorithms prioritise is a lot of juggling. But if it was all plain sailing everyone would do it! We work hand in hand with our influencers to make sure they are up to date with the latest trends and algorithms so they can always perform at their best.Pip
What tips can you offer for influencers who are struggling to maintain consistent content throughout lockdown season 2?
Lockdown is actually a massive advantage to influencers – even if it doesn’t seem like it. There has been a substantial increase in spending online and brands are focusing their budgets on influencer marketing due to this as it results in direct return. This is the perfect time to be engaging with your followers as they are all online and this is the first time the whole world has experienced one thing all at the same time. Don’t be posting glamorous holiday pictures or luxury gifts, this is the time to show your reality and let your followers know how you’re experiencing lockdown.Pip
So tell me how does your business work, as an influencer what is the expectation?
Working or signing with Flourish Management is unlike other agencies. We would never bring on talent unless we felt we could contribute something substantial to their career. We like to sit with our talent and look at the goals and aspirations, what they love doing, where they struggle and how we can help them achieve those goals. We often shoot their content for them, help plan the look/feel of their page and will always guide them to be the most creative/professional influencer they can be whilst having fun!Drea
What’s the criteria of influencers that you manage, is there a certain type of influencer you are looking for?
When signing new talent we always look for influencers that support our ethos – hardworking like minded people who want to work together to succeed in life. It is super important that we sign talent who support Flourish and our unique approach to influencer management, we don’t just book in posts, send you the product, get the post and that’s it, we nurture our talent through each stage of their career and we always look for talent who we know have a lot of potential, following isn’t everything.Pip
What sort of campaigns and expectations does a brand have when they work with you and your talent database?
Professionalism and generally just really nice people to work with! We pride ourselves on being an outgoing and approachable agency who will always ensure high quality projects that are delivered on time.Drea
How do you both switch off? Especially during a time where we can’t socialise the way we used to?
I won’t lie, I’ve found switching off to be difficult during these times as it’s hard to find a balance of home life and work life when you live in a one bedroom flat with a partner who’s also working from home. Feeling like you need to be constantly ‘connected’ becomes draining when you switch from laptop to phone multiple times a day and between apps to stay connected to loved ones. However a few things that have helped me are the simple act of going for a walk! Being in nature as much as possible, meditating (even if it’s just at home with your eyes closed), listening to music and putting the phone down or in another room. We also enjoy cooking together and give us a chance to chat about our day (even though you’ve been sitting in the same room all day).Drea
Totally agree with Drea, having a social media agency is tough to let yourself switch off, let alone when you’re in a lockdown! I have found routine is super important to keep my sanity, ensuring plenty of walks, virtual calls to have human interaction and winding down before bed without my phone ensuring I try to journal every night too.Pip
For influencers or students wanting to get in touch with you, how can they reach you?
firstname.lastname@example.org is the best email to get us on and one of the team will pass you on to the relevant staff member.