Date Posted: Friday 5th June 2020
We caught up Charlotte Williams, Founder of SevenSix Agency, who last month announced that she had extended the agency offerings to include an Influencer Network and Talent Management side of the business with the aim to connect brands with BAME content creators, and to ensure that there is diverse representation in mainstream advertising.
Charlotte started her career working as a marketing and digital specialist for several companies including Sanrio, where she managed the Hello Kitty brand, rolling out marketing campaign partnerships with brands such as ASOS, Topshop, Primark and H&M. Charlotte is also a micro-influencer in her own right, and has her own podcast which focuses on lifestyle and sustainability.
The fashion and beauty industry has responded to the Black Lives Matter cause after the murder of George Floyd in the US last week. Charlotte discusses the importance of influence in diverse representation and what steps SevenSix Agency has already taken.
What are your thoughts on the current conversations around racial equality for black people?
As we are all aware, last week George Floyd was murdered at the hands of Minneapolis police which led to a global uproar and brought the Black Lives Matter movement back into public view. After a difficult weekend filled with heavy emotions and the feeling of helplessness, I posted a video on my IGTV directed to my white audience addressing my views on what racism looks like in 2020 - hidden micro-aggressions paired with a lack of understanding and education on black people due to homogeneous friendship groups and workplaces.
The video has since been shared by the likes of Gillian Anderson, Zoe Sugg, Estée Lalonde and many white women with both large and small audiences. This video was my first piece of content focused on my personal experience with racial inequality but, I’ve been speaking about it, writing about it and experiencing it on a professional level for years.
Why did you decide to launch SevenSix Agency?
I started my agency in early 2019 as a response to frustrations that not only myself but also my friends felt in the influencer space. The summer of 2018 was an incredibly busy one for influencer press days, launch parties and events, and with that came rooms packed with almost identical influencers and next to no diversity, in any sense of the word. Every time a friend or I went to an event we would leave and report back to each other. We were almost always the only black people, or sometimes people of colour, in the room. The PRs normally said something out of place or got us confused with another influencer or they ignored us. Nine times out of ten someone left with their hair being inappropriately touched, and at this point, there had been enough articles online explaining why this just wasn’t ok.
When I was invited to an event where I was the only person who looked like me in a room full of white faces, I would scan the room and mentally list all the influencers of colour with larger followings than my own, comparatively small 5,000, who would have been a perfect addition to this event and raise the campaign's reach drastically. But whenever I would approach the PRs and ask why they hadn’t invited more influencers of colour they all said the same thing - that they didn’t have “access” to these types of influencers. I’m not sure what was going on that summer but it was from there that the concept of SevenSix Agency was born, from a marketer with “access”, whatever that means.
Why is the new division so important in the current climate?
At the beginning of lockdown, we saw a lot of influencers in our unofficial network stress that they weren’t getting work and that the budget wasn’t there but, we were still working with brands on campaigns as an agency and I was still being booked for paid collaborations as an influencer. I was getting a lot of influencers reaching out to me and asking for advice and I realised this needed to be addressed on a larger scale. So we launched the SevenSix Influencer Network as a support group for our BAME influencers and then took on a small pool of talent to manage - all people we had previous relationships with and wanted to see grow.
Tell us about the content creators you currently represent
All the influencers we represent are great at what they do - Bianca Foley creates incredible fashion and beauty content with a focus on sustainability; an area that is overwhelmingly filled with white influencers. Michael Brooks is a multi-disciplinary creative who uses his platform to showcase his artistry and show that makeup is genderless. He edits his own content and it is flawless. MiC LOWRY are an insanely talented R&B boyband who live for their craft and have toured with the likes of Justin Bieber and BoyzIIMen and Ola Awosika, a skincare enthusiast who raises awareness on race, sexuality and gender in his content - they are all pretty special!
What brand collaborations you've worked on stick out in your mind?
We work with some really great brands but one we love working within particular is Beautystack. The campaigns we work on always have a link back to economically empowering women and the beauty industry. They know exactly who their audience is - it goes beyond race and gender and is instead based on seriously detailed user personas. We don’t even have to think about diversity as we know it’s a given.
As a small agency, we’re able to be agile, so with the uncertainty of lockdown and the emotional and unexpected hit from the death of George Floyd, we’re able to take things day by day. Right now we’re working on serving our community by building our Influencer Network - ensuring work for our black and brown content creators- helping current and new clients with building inclusive marketing strategies through diversity consultancy and meeting with brands, organisations and fellow black founders to find ways we can create change in the creative and advertising industry - through organisations like The Conscious Advertising Network and Freelance Queens, amongst others.
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