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New gen bosses: Helena Whittingham on how she founded Lover Management, a bespoke management company that works with London’s coolest talents

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Mar 29, 2020

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New gen bosses is a new series created to guide and inspire more people to go out there on their own, either as new business founders or freelancers. And what better way to do that than to ask the ones that already succeed at it? We want to know about big fuck-ups and even bigger successes, and the risky decisions they had to make along the way. We want to be the last little push you needed.

Job title: Founder and CEO
Industry: Entertainment & online activations
Company founder or freelancer: Founder
Company name: Lover Management
How long have you been doing it: 10 months
Age: 25
Location: London

What pushed you to start on your own?

It was actually out of necessity, really. My background is in art, I was working in galleries as an assistant curator until about a year and a half ago when I changed career path and started managing celebrities, DJs and artists in general.

The company I was working for liquidated in April 2019 and I loved the job so much that I thought: “I can do this myself” only with people that I really admire like Nadine Artois, Poundland Bandit, Beam Me Up Softboi, The White Pube, and the rest. 

What was the very first thing you needed to do to set everything up?

I knew how to work in that industry and what to do in regard to day-to-day matters but choosing a name was hard. It feels very permanent but I absolutely love Lover Management now—it just makes sense to me.

I’ve worked freelance my whole life so always being motivated and working alone has never really been an issue, however, I’m pretty much still just learning on the job as everything is so bespoke. You have to be flexible, proactive and reactive. I like to think there’s no creative problem I can’t solve.

What was the riskiest decision you had to take?

The riskiest decision was perhaps taking out a small business loan? Not a lot of my work seems that risky though! Perhaps that’s just my big Leo ego haha.

What was a skill you didn’t foresee needing that you had to learn?

Maintaining personal organisation in regards to accounting for sure. In every other job, I was using other people’s systems so when I started on my own, I had to create a system that worked best for me.

Keeping the books up-to-date—I’m not very good at it, I don’t enjoy it, but you must do it.

Helena Whittingham on how she founded Lover Management, a bespoke management company that works with London’s coolest talents

At what moment did you realise that this was going to work out?

At the end of 2019 and early 2020, Lover started to gain so much more traction. I thought January was going to be a quiet month to do admin, take a holiday, well I was so wrong. I was literally making deals while on a mountain peak.

We have a large turnover and we haven’t reached our first birthday yet, which I’m really, really proud of.

What did you spend your money on?

My overheads are quite low actually. I have a free membership at the Curtain, which I work out of as well as at home. I spend money on all the regular stuff; FreeAgent, my website, social media promotion, and a little bit of merch.

Right now, I’m getting to a stage where I need to hire someone, which is both exciting and scary.

What was your biggest fuck up?

I don’t really have any funny anecdotes for this one, unfortunately. Cash flow can be tricky for sure and I wish more people would talk about that. I’ve definitely learned to follow my natural instinct for leadership, and how important triple checking can be.

What was your biggest success?

All of it. No, more seriously I think single-handedly bringing amazing brands to collaborate with my roster is my biggest success. Lover Management has worked with Polydor Records, RCA Records, Domino Records, Island Records, Relentless Records, Feeld, Chakrubs, Unbound, Goodhood, Nike, JD Sports, Bricks, Nandos, Somerset House Studios, The Curtain hotel, Ace, Laylow – to name a few.

Seeing them all together is pretty crazy, as well as getting regular work from them (a tip from the fabulous Kirsti Hadley from GRLPWR Gang). I really enjoy helping out my clients’ career path, being their biggest cheerleader.

Working with Wolf & Badger was a big personal win as it was part of the official LFW 2020 programme. I definitely danced around the house when we pulled in that one. We are also branching out into styling (shout out Konstantina at Sinister Sisters) and production. Brands are trusting us to deal with the creative direction in-house, which I love—more big wins coming!

Helena Whittingham on how she founded Lover Management, a bespoke management company that works with London’s coolest talents

What do you know now that you didn’t know then?

When necessary, ask for more money, and say no when you need to.

What are three tips you would give someone who wants to start on their own?

One: I hate glamorising side hustles, like the muti-hyphen method is seen as ‘cool’ but it’s definitely necessary in London. I’m a model, writer and cat sitter on the side and that absolutely helps when you have a hard month.

Two: Try not to get in beef with people. Just stop replying to them.

Three: If you’re working alone, have a network you can rely on to help keep you in check—mine is my best friend and creative consultant, Nic Brannan.

Bonus: Hire womxn when you can.

Want to discuss taking the leap with other new gens? You’re in luck! We’ve created New Gen Bosses, a Facebook group to continue and expand the conversation started through this new series.

New gen bosses: Helena Whittingham on how she founded Lover Management, a bespoke management company that works with London’s coolest talents


By Screen Shot

Mar 29, 2020

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New gen bosses: Benji Reeves on how he built Cortex Creatives, a new gen creative agency

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Jan 24, 2020

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New gen bosses is a new series created to guide and inspire more people to go out there on their own, either as new business founders or freelancers. And what better way to do that than to ask the ones that already succeed at it? We want to know about big fuck-ups and even bigger successes, and the risky decisions they had to make along the way. We want to be the last little push you needed.

Job title: Co-founder & CEO
Industry: Advertising and media
Company founder or freelancer: Founder and freelance producer
Company name: Cortex Creatives
How long have you been doing it: 4 years
Age: 24
Location: London and Brighton

What pushed you to start on your own?

Realising that being happy doing what I wanted to do was the most important thing. I started Cortex while I was at university with my friend Reuben Selby—we experimented a lot the first three years building our community of creatives by doing events, pop-up shops, print magazines, interviews and editorials.

In late 2017, I started my first post-university job as a data analyst at the Telegraph, which was a great experience, but it wasn’t what I wanted to do, ultimately. It wasn’t the area that I wanted to get into. I realised that I wasn’t satisfied and I was going to remain stagnant if I stayed; I was losing my creativity updating spreadsheets. So, I had to focus and get back on my desired career path. That was a turning point which led me to start Cortex full-time and build our company from being just a community-based platform, with online magazine content, into a new gen creative agency.

What was the very first thing you needed to do to set everything up?

It was to build our community of creatives. We did this through an exclusive Facebook group page. We hand-picked rising creatives so they could share work and connect. Building that core community gave us the freedom to take Cortex where we wanted to.

Now, with our new gen creative agency, clients are the main priority for sustainability. Building close relationships with them while also outsourcing creatives from our community to successfully execute projects is the main goal.

What was the riskiest decision you had to take?

Doing events and pumping our own personal money into the company. I’ve never actually thought of the implications it could’ve had if the events weren’t successful—especially the pop-up shops because there’s a lot of pressure and responsibility that rests on your shoulders. You don’t want to fuck up the first few because of first impressions. But, we just did it anyway, we kind of had to, for ourselves and the community. I guess we’re just not afraid to fail. Throwing ourselves in the deep end was the riskiest thing at the start.

What was a skill you didn’t foresee needing that you had to learn?

To conquer circumstances out of my control. There have been many moments where things can change quickly, and for the worst. It’s being able to deal with those situations which is crucial. Being intuitive and thinking on your feet is a vital skill to have.

Cortex-Creatives

Everywhere around us, new gens are founding businesses and redefining their careers. New gen bosses is here to inspire those who might want to do the same, this time with extra tips, some lols from those who have been there, done that, and £20 in your new ANNA business account if you dare to take the leap.

At what moment did you realise that this was going to work out?

When an abundance of talented creatives started regularly emailing us wanting to be involved in our community. Then I knew we were doing something right and the quality of work we were sharing was really good for them to be reaching out.

This then slowly transitioned into building opportunities for those same creatives in an agency format. Also, being at the level where we’re interviewing and shooting more established creatives and brands. That gave us reassurance that the work we’re producing is up to the required standard.

What did you spend your money on?

We spent our money on showcasing the community we had built up through events, such as live music events, exhibitions, pop-up shops. We raised money on Kickstarter for a print magazine which included work solely from our community of up and coming creatives. We also had to pay to build our website (shout out Jamie Waters) in order to interview established creatives such as musicians, photographers, artists, fashion designers and more.

What was your biggest fuck up?

There was one big fuck up actually. Attempting to trademark our original name ‘Hotbox’ which was already taken by some events company. We got pulled up on that. The whole situation was very stressful.

We were at a point where we were virtually unknown so it didn’t really matter too much. We definitely learnt from it. It did allow us to re-brand the company to Cortex which was probably the best thing that happened. Although, it shouldn’t have happened in the first place.

What was your biggest success?

Our biggest achievement so far was producing a fashion campaign for Thom Browne’s new fragrance. It was an intense month organising and tying the project together, including the crew, budgets, locations, creative development, call sheets, schedules. But it all worked out in the end and the finished imagery is amazing.

Cortex-Creatives

What do you know now that you didn’t know then?

Making sure that your idea is as niche as possible; really narrowing in on what you want to focus on and where you want to go with it, then having the ability to expand and branch out once you’ve established yourself in that one field.

The first two years we were kind of young and tried loads of different avenues, which I don’t regret because it led us to this specific path we’re going down with the agency. I don’t want to say we wasted time, but we could’ve been honing in on one specific aspect and really perfecting that, and then expanding.

What are three tips you would give someone who wants to start on their own?

One: Be persistent.

Two: Trust your gut.

Three: Don’t be afraid to adapt or change your original idea because that will happen organically. Some people will be set in their ways and not accept change but your idea is bound to evolve over time, so don’t be scared when that happens.

Feel like you would have never been forced to change the name of your company halfway? There’s only one way to find out. Take the leap, open an ANNA business card completely free of charge for the first 3 months and get £20 in it, too.

Want to discuss taking the leap with other new gens? You’re in luck! We’ve created New Gen Bosses, a Facebook group to continue and expand the conversation started through this new series.

New gen bosses: Benji Reeves on how he built Cortex Creatives, a new gen creative agency


By Screen Shot

Jan 24, 2020

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