What’s the HM London Creative story (How did you start your company and why?)
LC: We have been great friends for years and despite having very different professional backgrounds (corporate law vs. fashion) we have always loved exchanging war stories from our respective careers over a few drinks. One such evening Holly was venting about her frustrations with the inefficiencies of content creation and fashion shoot production. Brands with limited production budgets were paying to have 20 + people on a simple shoot when some of the most striking, luxurious and effective content could be produced by 3 - 4 people, a photographer, a van and a clear creative vision. Further frustrations stemmed from seeing small brands spend their annual production budget on content that wasn’t relevant to their target market and then suffering the fate of producing “budget” and “off-brand” content for the rest of the year. We then had a vision of building a boutique creative production company that could help small brands avoid these pitfalls and so seeing how excited she was about the idea made me want to help make it work and with my commercial background it became the perfect partnership.
HM: as Laura mentioned I was really motivated and determined to provide “luxury” content to smaller brands. Not just to produce and provide the content but to really understand the brand and deliver a bespoke personal service such that any content produced is guaranteed to be totally fit for purpose (whether this purpose is to build brand awareness, or increase revenue via e-sales, or both). With my creative background I needed someone else with a more commercial background to help make it work and get the company off the ground….and hence HM London Creative was born.
What creative trends are you most in to at the moment?
HM: Sustainability. I know it’s been said before but it’s really important and it's amazing to see that the fashion industry is starting to embrace it. On “The Hub” part of our website we are running a series of articles and interviews with young sustainable brands to help boost their profile, and through meeting and working with these sustainable brands we are really enjoying seeing how brands are having to think creatively as to how they can make their business models and production processes sustainable. We are really focused on working with these types of clients, who are doing their bit for the Slow Fashion Down movement and look forward to seeing more of their great work.
LC: I’m personally really really proud of the recent #wearingirish movement and the amazing things that Irish designers have been doing to disrupt the London market. We are finally seeing more Irish brands rise to prominence in the UK which is really exciting as we seem to be moving towards a proper representation of a country full of talented creatives. For example, we saw an amazing Irish presence at this year’s London Fashion Week a few weeks ago - we were particularly wowed by the bold collections of Katie Ann McGuigan, Natalie Coleman, Simone Rocha and Riona Treacy and we are really excited to watch these brands grow and continue to make waves.
Who do you think are the forerunners in visual branding (and what can smaller brands learn/ take from these)?
HM: We are constantly inspired by brands like Cult Gia, Ganni, Faithful the Brand, and Rixo etc - they have done a fantastic job (and most impressively in such a short period of time) of making themselves forerunners in affordable luxury and making their brand image distinct and immediately recognisable - bringing further into prominence this idea of a “lifestyle brand”. We live in a world where a brand has approximately 6 seconds in which to sell a product to a consumer through an image, but at the same time consumers want to buy into the lifestyle story of a brand, and so balancing these competing interests is really difficult especially for young brands in saturated markets. These brands do this so well and instantly pull the consumer into the world of what they are selling whilst appealing to the lifestyle/brand loyalty angle.
LC: We would advise smaller brands to firstly make sure that their style of visual content (i.e. imagery or video) is consistent across all the channels through which they sell or have a presence. Secondly, brands should be clear on what kind of consumer they are trying to attract and make sure their imagery is specifically tailored to that sector. Finally, we would advise brands to make the most of the analytics and the great technology that is out there in order to monitor the relating data and click rates/engagement levels of certain types of content so that brands can continuously refine their visual strategy for the best possible results and revenue growth. Especially for young brands, close monitoring of this trial and error process is really important. The last thing we would advise of course is to get in contact with us!
- What advice to you have for someone who is looking to start their own business?
LC: Don’t do it! No we’re joking. I think we both agree that it’s been incredibly difficult, much more difficult (and difficult in different ways) than we initially thought, but the rewards of building something with a friend and being able to be a part of the growth story of some of the amazing brands we work with make it worthwhile but I would definitely advise someone going into it not to underestimate how much work and energy it requires.
HM: I would say find a business partner that does what you don’t. I think one of the reasons we work so well as a team is that we have totally different strengths and I believe that's invaluable. I would also say seek as much advice as possible from people around you and don’t be afraid to ask for help or admit that it’s hard - because it is!
- How do you aim to raise the bar on the process of content and design?
LC: In a few ways, firstly we can produce better quality content than the client could otherwise afford: we have the ability through our network of industry professionals to allow brands access to better quality fashion photographers, production teams and creative direction than they would otherwise be able to afford. The ability to deliver this value to small brands is the main reason we’re doing what we’re doing and so we hope to continue to do this for many more exciting brands.
LC: Secondly we offer a totally fit for purpose service: what makes the HM London Creative service truly unique is how personal and bespoke it is to the brand story/journey of our clients. If the brand wants to raise awareness and get its name out there, the content we produce will be perfectly tailored to that end result. For example, if the brand wants to drive revenue through e-sales then the content we produce will be well researched and planned so as to get the best engagement as amongst the client’s exact target market.
HM: Creative direction for brands that don’t yet have their brand identity or story: I think so many brands don’t realise the value of creative direction when it comes to their shoots and concept development. It’s all well and good having a great photographer and model, but having an outsiders creative eye come in and help you build a clear vision for your shoot, that matches what the brand is trying to exude to consumers, is so important - and this is how we help our clients set themselves apart from their competitors.
LC: Working with data: when we work on a retainer basis for clients we work very closely with our clients’ digital/marketing teams and pay careful attention to the content analytics so that we can make sure we are always delivering relevant content that not only conveys the brand’s message, but is also proven to result in high levels of consumer engagement and conversion rates.
Who is your ideal client - who can you best service?
HM & LC: whilst we do have a few dream brands that we would someday adore to work with, we actually don’t have “an ideal client” as we really can work for everyone. Whilst most of our clients to date have been fashion industry related due to Holly’s background, we can produce content for all types of businesses and hope to keep working across industries. We’ve had some really exciting clients in the music industry and so would love to work more in that sector, we are also really focused on working in the wearable tech and fashion tech sector, as there are some really exciting things happening in that sphere. Anyone who is truly passionate about creating and developing a sharp visual identity is someone that we can and would love to work with.