Kaash is the CEO of Kaash Models, an agency based in London with models also located in Birmingham, France and hometown Bermuda, where Kaash grew up. We got to sit down with Kaash to learn more about what it takes to run a busy agency…
How did you get involved with modelling originally?
“I used to model a bit before university but I had some issues with how myself and some of the other models were treated, so I decided to leave and create my own agency. It originally started as me just giving jobs to my friends who were also models – I fitted it around Uni as I still had to revise for exams – but it just grew from there.’
‘More people started approaching me for jobs and other models wanted to get involved. It went around by word of mouth at first and then I decided to take it seriously as a business.”
What has been your career highlight so far?
“I would say the biggest highlight was when The Plug released his project, we got to be on the D Block Europe and Offset video set for the ‘Rich’ song. In the same week, we also did the Swarms, Annie and Polo G’s video ‘Telescope’.”
You moved here from Bermuda four years ago – how did you get to where you are now, doing high profile shoots, in just four years?
“I think it comes down to me networking every time I meet someone – even if it’s just mentioning what I do to an accountant. You never know what could happen in the future. I think it stems from that, as well as just staying organised and professional.”
How do you go about networking?
“Just face to face, or online, a mix of the two. I would say it’s about a 50/50 split. Everything is better face to face – meeting face to face with another agency, for instance, it’s very important as you get to meet the artists, the cameramen, everyone involved on a set.”
“I often go to events just so I can meet people and see what happens, and then I’ll follow up with just an email or a message. You can’t force that sort of thing but if they bite, they bite. I just keep putting myself out there and doing these things. It’s like applying for a job – you just keep trying and trying until someone gets back to you.”
What qualities have helped you grow your company?
”I think my ability to adapt is one thing that’s helped me a lot – I lived in New Jersey for a little while before I ended up here, so I’ve had experience of living in several different countries. I think that’s rubbed off a bit in terms of how to deal with different people. When I say ‘adapt’, I mean adapting to different people and how they see things as well as just different environments. People are different to manage – some of them you can just leave to get on with it, others you have to take a bit of extra care to set them on the right course. It’s a useful skill to see just who your client is, what they want and how you can work with them to give the best service.
“Organisation is another thing which I keep bringing up. I can’t let anything get in the way of delivering for a client and a key part of that is communication – that’s very important. If a client has completed a job or is in between assignments, time mustn’t be wasted. When you’ve got over seventy girls on your books then these things become important.”
Is that how many girls you have working for you?
“Yes, fifty or so actual models and twenty who we’ve recently recruited. I’m proud to say I know all of their names, all of their heights and where they’re from. They’re all just such different people, and I love them all for it. There’s one girl, for instance, who arrives at every shoot looking like mandem and then she’ll just turn on the magic, and she’ll be all beautiful, wearing a dress and everything.”
Do the models approach you to join the agency, or do you go out looking to recruit them?
”When I started it was them approaching me, although I would reach out to certain people I wanted and recruit them. Nowadays I have a dedicated recruitment team though. My website has a link for prospective models to send applications and then the recruitment team will be in touch within about two weeks to see if they want to take it further, so that’s usually how it works.”
“Even little things like how quickly they respond to our emails all gives us a sense of just how professional they are. Things like a girl’s Snapchat or Instagram all show us how they present themselves, and we take those things into account too. We do
n’t even ask for professionally-shot pictures in our application – we just let them send in whatever photos they feel will make the best impression, and if we see potential there, we will take them on board. Even if they’re not wearing make-up in the picture, beauty is beauty – if we like what we see and judge that you treat it like a professional, then that is all we need.”
You talk a lot about organisation – is it stressful balancing Kaash Models with being a student? Or does it come easily to you?
”I’ve just started my last year at uni and, of course, there have been times in the past where I’ve felt like it’s all too much to handle but most of the time I actually find it quite a refreshing change from the agency, as the subject matter of my degree (philosophy, politics and economics) is so different from the agency.
“My degree involves quantitative data – finding patterns in large amounts of numerical information – and I find that sometimes translates to what I’m doing in the agency, too. At the end of the year, I’m able to look over the figures and see which girls are getting booked and why, or which girls aren’t.
“I don’t think going to university was a necessary qualification for what I do – or, in most cases, what anybody wants to do – but I think that for me personally, uni definitely helped by introducing me to like-minded people to network with.
“I’ve met people who are going on to start their own clothing brands and businesses. That sort of thing really helps to keep you motivated, like-minded people who are all growing together. But I think that instead of uni, the most important thing for starting your own business is simply to sit down and ask yourself ‘is this for you?’.
At the end of the day, you’ll be working a lot harder and longer than you would in a regular job. As an employee, you can clock off work at 5 pm. With your own business, it’s so much harder to separate yourself like that. Some days you’ll be getting up at 1 am to work and wonder how you’re going to keep going. You’re always moving forward, looking at how to expand or what to try out next. That pace never really lets up.”
Where are you planning on taking the agency?
“We’re expanding into more countries, looking for more booking agents who can provide commission jobs. We’re also working on some clothing and merchandise which should be coming out this year. Other than that, we’re just looking to keep growing. This business is very day-by-day. You never really know what the future holds. A lot of our business comes from music videos and brand ambassadors – some companies send our girl’s merch and they get paid to model it.”
“I have a team of 5 agents, who are working with us now, which is helping us a lot. We’ve also started Kaash Mafia, which is performers of any type and talent including fire breathers and dancers. Growth into other sectors is the main goal moving forward for 2020/2021.”
One Young World partners with the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and United Way to launch Covid-19 YoungLeaders Fund
At the same time new data from One Young World reveals two out of three (62%) young people don’t believe the government has adequately addressed their concerns regarding coronavirus
The survey also found 72% of young people have volunteered their time to help others during this pandemic.
15th May London: One Young World – the global forum for young leaders that counts Meghan, Duchess of Sussex; Justin Trudeau; Archbishop Desmond Tutu and Emma Watson as Counsellors – today announces a first of its kind fundfor young leaders to provide urgent finance to those fighting against the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.
New statistics from 1,000 young leaders globally finds that two thirds (62%) don’t believe the government has adequately addressed their concerns, and over half don’t believe there has been enough international cooperation.
However, young people are continuing to spearhead activism globally. The research found a staggering 72% of youngpeople have volunteered their time to help others during this pandemic, yet they continue to be underfunded.
The fund has been established to provide the immediate distribution of finance to young leaders on the frontlines of the Covid–19 response – with donations distributed widely across countries and sectors.
Recent statistics from One Young World highlight the impact of investing in the young generation. On average the social return on Investment is 15:1 – for every $1 invested, $15 of social impact is generated.
The initial projects to receive funding include;
Heidy Quah, Malaysia, Heidy and her organisation Refuge for the Refugees has focused efforts on this forgotten group. To date she has provided 5,878 bags of food across 461 locations, reaching 29,390 vulnerable people.
Dr Radhika Batra, India, Kenya & Nigeria, Radhika founded Every Infant Matters (EIM) to give all children in India a healthy start to life. They are currently tackling the crisis in India and Kenya by manufacturing tens of thousands of PPE equipment in these areas.
Rinesh Sharma, Fiji, Rinesh is Founder of Smart Farms Fiji, an agro-technology initiative. In response to Covid-19Smart Farms has developed the “Growing Essential Greens Home Kit System” as an innovative solution to the food security and health consequences of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Achaleke Christian, Cameroon, Achaleke has founded the ‘One Person One Hand Sanitizer’ initiative, producing over 15,000 bottles of sanitiser and distributed them to 12,000 separate households.
Jolyon Layard Horsfall, United Kingdom, Jolyon is the CFO and Co-Founder of Happy Space, a UK-based charity dedicated to preventative mental wellbeing. Happy Space has created a campaign called #HappySpaceAtHome distributing 90 support packages to vulnerable households, free-of-charge.
Ella Robertson, Managing Director of One Young World, said: “Young leaders are part of the most connected, informed and resourceful generation in human history. They have proved this time and time again, with their capacity for innovation, understanding of digital tools and high levels of social responsibility. We now need to ensure they have the funds needed to tackle some of the largest issues created by Covid-19.
From every country in the world, the response has been staggering, the collective innovation, empathy and spirit has meant many projects are supporting those most vulnerable. I am thrilled that we can now support them financially, ensuring money is making a difference. In the past 10 years we have built One Young World to become the largest corporate support network of any European NGO, we must now utilise this expertise and efficiency to ensure those on the ground are supported, globally.”
Jayathma Wickramanayake, UN Special Envoy for Youth said: “The Covid-19 Young Leaders Fund is exactly the bold action that is required to champion young people who are so bravely combatting the coronavirus on the frontlines. I commend One Young World for this fantastic initiative and urge others to support this effort to ensure that youngpeople’s work is properly funded and respected. Young people are at the heart of the response and we must ensure they are supported effectively.”
The fund will continue to accept donations with the aim of making hundreds of thousands of dollars available to frontline projects. Those wishing to apply for the funding will be able to apply via an online portal on the One YoungWorld website. All projects will be subject to due diligence and reference check process; One Young World’s monitoring and evaluation process has been designed to ensure minimum burden to frontline workers whilst allowing donors to have complete visibility of where their money has been spent.
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After graduating from Pinewood Studios as a Bafta Prince William Scholar, Fatuma Odwar is now a professional TV and Film, Hair & Makeup artist at Pinewood Studios, as well as now working on Season 7 Warner Bros, Cohort. In this interview, we get to learn more about Fatuma’s journey in the makeup industry so far, what it was like studying at Pinewood Studios, as well as some great advice for any aspiring makeup artists.
Where did the love for Makeup originate from?
“My first form of inspiration came from when I was a figure skater. When I was at competitions, I used to see other skaters with crazy outfits with the make-up to match. It was like avant-garde type makeup. It made me want to do it, so I started practising on myself.”
“I studied beauty therapy at college. There was a bit of make-up on the course and I realised I preferred that to the beauty part. I knew I wanted to be a make-up artist, but not what kind of make-up artist. I then decided to do a one year course of Media Hair and Make-up in 2016, that showed me different aspects of make-up which was great because I learned I was pretty strong at every part. When I graduated my tutor told me she thought of me being a TV/Film Hair and Make-up Artist would be best and I agreed.
“I also used to watch Rick Baker when I was younger. He was the guy who turned Michael Jackson into a werewolf in ‘Thriller’. When I first watched it as a kid I thought it was real. I used to put on a VHS of MJs greatest hits and at the end would be a ‘behind the scenes’, there you’d see Rick Baker do a life cast & apply some Prosthetic pieces on Michael himself, without realising at the age of about 5, I was in love with it. I thought it would be really hard to get into, and it was, but I love it.”
What experience had you gained in the industry before becoming a Bafta Prince William Scholar at Pinewood Studios?
“I have worked on various counters, I was part of a beauty agency, so they would assign you to different types of make-up counters which needed help, for example, Chanel, Estée Lauder and other high street brands. I had to sell the products and to do that I had to know the products inside out. If a customer liked an eye shadow pallet, but they weren’t sure if it suited them, they could ask for me to apply it for them. If the client showed me a shimmery eye shadow, and I thought it wouldn’t work for them, then I could suggest something else which would work better. It was good to learn to give advice to people and know what works and what doesn’t for certain people. I also got trained in each brands standards, which was amazing.
“College was a good experience. It was good to be taught by people who had something to do with the industry. They gave good advice, what to do and what not to do. It was only really just scratching the surface in terms of what you learn at college, but it was still helpful. You learned a lot of theory, like the history of make-up.”
You had quite a battle getting your scholarship into The Iver Make-Up Academy. Could you speak more on the process you went through?
“Funding was a big issue. I went to The Iver Make-Up Academy and knew I felt comfortable there and that I wanted to study there. First I had to apply, then have an interview where I showed my portfolio. From getting the interview, I knew I had the skills to be able to get into college.”
“There aren’t many career development loans out there, so it was hard to find the money.”
“The problem was that after I passed the interview, I had to try and get £20,000 in four months to be able to make it onto the course. There aren’t many career development loans out there, so it was hard to find the money. I didn’t want to get a loan out because of the interest rates. It was hard, I did find some funding, but then they ended up letting me down. It happened a lot, it was heartbreaking, but I never gave up.”
“Having support from my mum was and still is very helpful. She believed in me. Having my mum’s good energy around me was key, it kept me focused and it made me feel more positive about the situation. I had the mindset of ‘I am going to study there’, it was just a matter of time, I am going to find the funding, I just didn’t know when or how.”
“I kept in contact with the Principal at The Iver Make-Up Academy. She gave me options for things I could do, but I wanted to do the whole course, I didn’t want to do elements of it. She also mentioned the scholarship program and said that I would be an ideal candidate. I had to write a two-hundred-word personal statement even though I wanted to write a lot more.”
“It was very competitive – three hundred and fifty people applied, fifteen had an interview and twelve got a BAFTA scholarship. I worked on my personal statement for the scholarship for about six weeks. Every single day, apart from weekends, I would come home from work and load up the laptop. I sent the personal statement to my sister, who is at uni, for her advice, and then she sent it to her friends who study English at Cambridge University, who were a great help, to make sure it was presented as well as possible.
“The scholarship was my only option, so I made sure I did as much as possible to make sure I got my place.”
What’s your favourite aspect of make-up?
“I like every aspect of make-up, but my favourites have to be High Fashion, Afro Hairstyling, Lifecasting/Prosthetic making, Period wig work, TV/Film. I want to make that kind of make-up, not what you typically think of instantly when you hear ‘Make-Up’.
“FUN FACT! The suits used for Marvel characters are really thin silicon pieces stuck onto the body, and then you apply make-up/paints onto the suit to make the outfit. For example, the outfit used in the film ‘Deadpool’ where his skin looks burnt, it is made up silicone pieces stuck precisely onto certain parts of the body, they were specially made to fit Ryan Reynolds. I’m learning about all of this very soon which is so exciting.”
Do you think make-up can be used for the wrong reasons when you are younger?
“When you’re younger it definitely is something you use when you’re insecure. I found that when I had bad skin going through puberty, you get spots which made me instantly think I needed to cover up. But that doesn’t help because it made them way more obvious, but you just think you have to cover the spots up.”
“For me now, I use make-up to enhance my features, make my eyes look slightly more almond-like, for example. I think men think women use make-up to change themselves, but it’s not like that at all. I now prefer using make-up on clients/models rather than myself, it’s so much more fun because most of the time you won’t know what face you’ll be working on so you really got to get all you make-up knowledge flowing so you can get the best results.
Do you follow trends, or do you try to be unique?
“I try to be unique. I don’t follow Instagram trends. On my make-up Instagram, I only follow unique artists, this sparks something in me to be unique rather than follow the trends like to wear loads of highlighter/contour, the Kardashian/Jenner type look. It also does depend on what type of Make-up Artist you aspire to be like. I’m trying to be more creative and arty while also practising the needs for TV/Film and High Fashion.
Could you talk more about your time at Pinewood Studios?
“It was quite challenging, I was travelling from Oxford to the studio’s which are in London Monday – Friday. I was just about catching a 7 AM bus each time because I don’t drive, which I found very tiring and as you can imagine busses aren’t very reliable.. It was all worth it, I kept thinking about how much work I had put into getting my place on the course which helped me get through that part.”
“I didn’t realise how intense it would be, but it was so worth it.”
“On the course, I got trained to do every single aspect in TV and film, theatre make-up, high fashion & period make-up. Every Type of make-up you can think of, like body art, I have been trained to do. Where Coronavirus and the whole lockdown has happened, I have had to graduate five weeks early. I still have a few things to learn when the virus clears to finish the course like avant-garde type runway hair. Other than that I am fully trained in all aspects now.”
“I didn’t realise how intense it would be, but it was so worth it. The tutors have been and are still in the industry, they are all mostly designers now, so they are designing the hair and makeup for all of the films that we want to work on, so it’s great to be around them, to see how they go about their work, how they tackle situations, how they think of ideas, how they break down scripts. It has been amazing to be around that kind of energy and witness what they are doing in real-life situations, which has helped me a lot. The support they give you during the course as well as after has been one of a kind, I always thought I wasn’t an educational person but really I just wasn’t learning what I love and wasn’t around the same energy I give out. You can feel when you’ve found your dream career and I definitely have, I can’t wait to be out in the industry after the Pandemic has cooled down.”
Has your perception of the Make-up industry changed after going through your course?
“It has changed in a positive way. I honestly didn’t realise how much work goes into make-up before you even start applying the make-up on a client/model. For a film, before you apply make-up, as a make-up artist you are expected to read the whole script and break it down. So any time the script says, for example, ‘Josie did a cartwheel’, you’ve then got to think about the hands because they will be in the shot. I’ve got to think about it all, make sure her fingernails are nicely trimmed, make sure her nail varnish isn’t chipped.”
“A lot goes into make-up, so that perception has changed. I thought we would turn up on set, someone would show you a mood-board, introduce you to your model for the day and give us a description of what they wanted us to do. Which isn’t it all, there is a lot more. You have to also do hair on top of that, you’re not just doing make-up, you’re doing the hair too. Which I thought was separate, but it’s great! I loved learning all the tips and tricks into doing all these iconic styles I’ve seen on TV”
Have you got any standout moments during your time at Pinewood Studios?
“I went to the official BAFTAs ceremony, and the EE Rising Star ceremony, which were both cool to experience! I got to see how the industry works as well as working for the event. Seeing first-hand how people network has helped a lot, you have to be able to get to these types of events and network. A lot of it in the industry is who you know, not what you know. Learning small things like that, that have nothing to do with make-up is a privilege I’m lucky to have. I’ve already met some amazing people who I’ll be working within the near future”
“Throughout the course, they also used to run masterclasses and talks which covered a lot of the different departments when it comes to film in general. This helped me get more of an understanding what an actor’s role is and what they go through, same with cinematography and many more as they help and relate to me doing my job perfectly in this industry.”
“It’s good to know more in-depth about what everyone gets up to”
“At first I thought I’m not going to go to anything which didn’t revolve around makeup. I ended up going to a lot of them because it’s good to know what everyone does. You have got to communicate with every team member when you are on set, so it’s good to know more in-depth about what everyone gets up to.”
What advice would you give to an aspiring make-up artist?
“Watch YouTube videos on your favourite artists, copy what they are doing, practice on yourself first until you get more confident. When you start to feel more confident then get your friends around or your family and practice on them…..I have dragged my mum in for practice on many occasions!”
“Get involved with any work experience you can – I have done some for clothing companies before. If you have any friends in photography, offer to do make-up for any projects they have coming up. It is so different seeing make-up on a picture from a good camera to seeing it in person. If you see it on a camera, it really shows everything.“
“There are a load of agencies out there that you can sign up to which send you onto jobs. It’s normally assistant jobs, but you get to experience a load of different types of jobs, like backstage jobs, counters etc… I didn’t do so much of this, but I did enough to realise which part of make-up I wanted to do.”
“The industry is really competitive, but stay true to yourself. Keep yourself to yourself. Get involved and talk to people too. The way you present yourself is also very important. Feel free to get in contact with me through my Instagram, always happy to answer your questions”
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Three years ago, I took the plunge to go travelling with my closest friends.
Throughout the process of planning this trip, I decided that I wanted to add Australia into the equation as it had been on my bucket list for as long as I could remember. The other girls weren’t as keen on the idea, so I ended up going by myself after our classic South East Asia route.
This was the first solo travel experience I’d ever encountered, I was so enthusiastic to see what this country was all about, and boy did it live up! I travelled the East Coast of Australia with a tour group back in 2016 and loved every second of it. The tour actually ended in Sydney, but I decided to book a week in Melbourne to end my trip – best decision of my life! The week was indescribable, I honestly can’t even begin to explain the feeling you get when walking through this magical city. I vowed to myself once home that I would eventually save all my pennies and take the leap to go and live there eventually, which I just so happened to do this year.
Travelling solo gave me so much more confidence, I was no longer this shy, embarrassed little girl. Having insightful conversations with brand new people and becoming my own person, growing hobbies and understanding more about myself was something I loved/love. I learned that my money management skills needed improving. Moving out was also a huge step for me, having my personal space in a different country definitely made me mature.
Melbourne is undeniably the most liveable city in the world, it has so much to offer. Not to sound lame but the café culture is incredible, and yes, it is true, Melbournian coffee is élite. I honestly will fully admit to being a complete brunch whore, they take that shit seriously. I had originally only planned to stay here for 3/4 months but ended up staying my whole trip. And I absolutely plan to head back as soon as possible.
Sydney, I have mixed views on…spending a long weekend here with friends is always going to be a laugh, but I do kind of view this city as either beach or business. Not very much in between. Also, don’t even get me started on the lock outlaws. It’s not all shade though like I actually wouldn’t mind living here if I was at the height of my career.
The Gold Coast is also really lovely for a holiday if you’re living in Aus. You really can’t beat a city skyline on the beach or a surf trip to Byron Bay. But all in all, I don’t think I’ll ever get over New Zealand. By far one of the most picturesque, beautiful countries I have been and will probably ever go too. I still don’t understand how a country can be so peaceful and full of the kindest humans on earth. Plus that accent, yum.
In Melbourne, I worked as a Bartender, one of the easiest jobs to get, and funniest. I worked opposite an AFL stadium which meant drunk footy fans galore, actually quite entertaining. The pay was unbelievable, especially on game days so I found myself working hard over the weekends and doing… not so many shifts during the week… oops. Looking back this probably wasn’t great for my bank account, but it’s called a working holiday visa for a reason, right? Emphasis on the holiday.
One of the greatest experiences I had was my bungee jump in New Zealand. It was undoubtedly a euphoric moment for me, I didn’t even know I was doing it until the day before when my friend decided to shock me to death with the surprise. One I’ll never forget. I HIGHLY recommend driving down (or up) the South Island, the views are insane, literally postcard-perfect and will leave you jaw-on-floor probably the whole god damn journey. I think I’d like to retire and stay in New Zealand forever in just utter peace. That would be bliss.
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Jordan Flynn is a twenty-three-year-old professional boxer from Cowley, Oxford, where he began boxing from the age of eight. He is now a 3x National Champion after representing England on a number of occasions. Jordan tells us his Dad got him into boxing because he was always very hyper…
What’s the journey been like from when you started until now?
“It’s been up and down. There are a lot of ups and downs. I first started to compete when I was 11, so it took me a few years of training until I was properly competing. I’ve been fortunate to box for England and win three national titles. I’ve boxed against Scotland, Ireland, Sweden, Three Nations, a lot of dual matches.”
I was boxing at Berinsfield, I was their first national champion, and the first boxer to box for England. I got to a certain level where I needed to move on. So I moved to London and I started training there. I used to commute when I was 15, I needed better sparing and more challenges.”
What was it like when you got your call up for England?
“It was amazing. It was a big achievement for me, it was my dream from when I started boxing that I wanted to represent my country. I won the national championship and by winning that then I got the opportunity to box for England in the Three Nations. I was ‘number one’ in England and I was selected for various tournaments.”
Who did you look up to growing up?
“When I first started boxing, Amir Khan was doing very well at the time, so I used to watch him. I didn’t have anyone that I wanted to be like, I just looked at certain people who had aspirations of becoming a world champion and that has been my dream in boxing from day one.“
How often are you training?
“I train in London, so I’m travelling to and from five days a week… it’s a full-time job. I also train on Saturday’s, so, technically, I’m working six days a week. I have my own trainer which helps, Kevin Mitchell. He was a professional boxer as well and he’s boxed at world level for world titles.”
What’s your diet like?
“If I haven’t got a fight coming up, I try and eat well, I try not to eat too bad. If you have a fight in the diary, then you have to take your diet seriously and be strict with your nutrition. It has a huge effect on how you perform, not just your weight, performance and energy levels.”
“It all comes down to your nutrition. It’s no good going to the gym to train and then going home to eat a pizza. But I do have a little dessert here and there.”
Have you ever had a bad injury?
“Yes. It was a couple of years ago now. I boxed for England in the GB Championships in 2015. A month or so after the fight I got something called Vertigo. It’s a condition where you end up feeling very dizzy and off-balance. The doctor said it might have come from an ear infection. I was flying to Sweden for a fight out there and they think I must have picked it up from the plane. That went on for about two years.
I carried on through the pain and carried on with my boxing. It’s hard to box when you feel dizzy all of the time. Sometimes on the day of the fights I would be worried about how I was going to feel, which was a huge distraction, it was horrible. Now that I am fully recovered, I feel much better in my all-round game. I’m feeling healthy now, and that makes a big difference.”
What’s been the highlight of your career so far?
“I got picked to spar in the Olympic ring with another boxer in the 2012 London Olympics. We were both national champions back then. They wanted to pick the two up and coming boxers for a test. I was too young to compete then, unfortunately, but it was a crazy experience. They scored it and I did actually win which was even better. I was one of two people out of the whole country, so it was incredible to be picked.
“When I boxed for England against Scotland in the National Championship in Edinburgh, the atmosphere was crazy, the Scottish people are very passionate. I won the match, so that was another crazy experience.”
“I turned professional towards the end of twenty-nineteen from amateur level, a when you’re an amateur, you don’t get huge crowds, but this was over 1,000 people… it was crazy.”
Flynn won on his professional debut towards the end of last year at the Brentwood Centre. Follow Jordan on Instagram to follow his exciting journey and hear about his upcoming fights.
At the age of 18, I made the decision to not follow the traditional path of going to University and instead chose to do an Apprenticeship. I’ve always enjoyed earning money and working in different business sectors. After completing my GCSE’s, I didn’t want to have to choose between earning my own money or getting a better education. I don’t think many people admit to this!
I am the first person in my family to have the opportunity to go to University. This coupled with the school system pushing University as the only next step, I felt under a large amount of pressure to follow this route. With this in mind, I did what everyone else did and chose to do A-Levels in order to get into University.
For years Apprenticeships and Universities have been head to head, Apprenticeships being seen as the poor alternative for those that ‘cannot hack university’. This was something that was certainly reinforced by my secondary school and sixth form. Hours and hours of ‘university talk’ before I had even finished my first year.
It wasn’t until halfway through my A-Levels that I realised this wasn’t for me, it didn’t suit my learning style and I felt as if my abilities weren’t being pushed to the max. Disregarding the disappointing comments from my teachers and peers I decided to drop out of sixth form and look for an Apprenticeship in Human Resources.
Despite Apprenticeships being largely ignored in favour of University, I knew I wanted a career in HR and what better way to learn than around an amazing team.
‘I have developed many great skills and a wealth of knowledge of general HR’
So, here I am a year and a half into my Apprenticeship at Blenheim Palace. Not only have I completed my Business Administration Qualification, but I have started my CIPD L3 in HR and I am more than excited for the future. Waking up and looking forward to going to work is a goal that everyone should have.
I have learnt more in the last 18 months then I did during my A-Levels; whether this is learning how to work within a business environment or how to make the perfect cup of tea…I have developed many great skills and a wealth of knowledge of general HR.
Most importantly I have learnt a huge deal about myself and the experiences I have practised have moulded me into the person I am today. With the support and structure around me, I hope to complete my CIPD L3 and start my CIPD L5 in Human Resources Management.
Blenheim have supported me massively during my Apprenticeship, the opportunity to have close working relationships with people from across the business and having the responsibility of ensuring employee wellbeing and development is a very rewarding role. I couldn’t ask for a better structure around me to grow into the person I want to be.
From finding EJ CD’s in a cereal box to working with some of the biggest music artists in the world, Scott Supreme and Scott Styles are super producers in their own rights. We visited the studio in Central London where they produce their music to sit down and learn more about their journey so far…
Tell us a bit about yourselves.
Supreme: “I am Scott Supreme, a music producer from London. I have worked with the likes of Young Dolph, Blade Brown, Team E. I also run an online music leasing service.”
Styles: “I am Scott Styles, you may have heard my ‘Beam Me Up Scotty’ producer tag from songs like ‘Whippin Excursion’ with Giggs. I run an online beat selling business alongside my bro Scott Supreme as he said. Along with this, we are starting up a record label and have a lot of exciting talent that we are looking to sign. On top of all of that, we also run a production company called Digital Trap, so there’s a lot going on.”
How did you get into music?
Supreme: “I got hold of an EJ CD, you know, one of those EJ dances from a cereal box. I installed that into my computer and was just dragging it and dragging it, making some loops here and there, and before I knew it, I had kind of outgrown it. I don’t know if you would remember the MTV music generator, but I was also using that for a while. Before I knew it, I was working on what I call fruity, (FL Studio, fruity), which is a producer software.”
“That was it, I was hooked. I was about 12 or 13 when I got into FL Studio, I wasn’t too serious at that stage, I was just learning and playing around with loads of different methods, and after a while, I progressed and developed with it.“
Styles: “Music didn’t start as early for me. I didn’t know I wanted to do music until I was in secondary school. I never really messed around with any of the old software. I was listening to a lot of music, of course, but I wasn’t producing any younger than that. Secondary school happened, and everyone around was starting to rap. I started out rapping with everyone else because it was just normal, but I was more fascinated about the beats. This was back in the days when Grime was starting to pop, so it was an interesting time for music.”
“It got to the stage where I just had beats/instrumentals on my phone. I would prefer listening to them which enabled me to dissect them, which was interesting for me. Everyone knew me for the guy who had the best beats on his phone. Even though they weren’t beats I was producing at the time, I still liked the fact that people would come to me for the latest beats.”
“you know when they say you have to put in ten thousand hours? You have to.”
“This was when I was in year 8/9 and even then, the year 11’s were coming to me for exclusive beats because I had managed to get my hands on them. That then developed straight away into FL studio 5 or 6 when I was 14, it was the best windows program producer software I downloaded out of a load I had tried. From there I have just been trying to improve every day.”
When did you start your career in the industry?
Supreme: “In terms of online stuff, I was 18 as well. I remember being in college getting the business up and running. The production was nowhere near the level of what I am producing now. I feel like every year you progress. You have to put in the hours, you know when they say you have to put in ten thousand hours? You have to. I listen back to beats that I was producing only last year and still see a huge progression from then to now.”
Styles: “It was different back then we were 18, that was 9 years ago. This was when YouTube was just starting. We never really had access compared to the tools that are available now. That doesn’t mean it’s easier, the game is different now, a lot more oversaturated for one. Back then it was so much more limited to make and push out music, it was the MySpace days.”
Supreme: “Even down to accessing knowledge, it was limited. Now you can go onto YouTube, you can learn about anything, everyone can now learn to be a producer, graphic designer, you can learn anything you want, because of the access to tutorials. Back then there weren’t tutorials about anything. Even down to the little things, how to install a VST, how to download samples, how to alter something in your mixing, you would have to figure it out yourself which took a lot of time.”
Styles: “A producer these days could be selling beats within a year, because of the access. For us, it was 4 or 5 years, and even then, we didn’t start making serious money until we were about 20,21, so three years after we started the business.”
How did you both meet, and how did the relationship form into what it is today?
Styles: “We first spoke through Facebook once we had realised that we both made music. There were very few people doing what we were doing back then, especially from the area we were in, West London. It’s funny because a couple of years after we met we found a mixtape of beats that someone else had put together, and it had both of us on the cover.”
“That’s how close Supreme and I were in terms of the people we were working with. Back then, music was a much smaller circle, now everyone does music. We collaborated on one or two beats which started the relationship. Then Supreme was trying to sell a camera.”
Supreme: “I had this small handheld camera which I had bought for a college project. I ended up not getting the right spec so I couldn’t use it, so I thought I might as well shot it on. Ebay wasn’t a thing so I was just messaging people on Facebook.”
Styles: “So he hit me up for a camera. Around that time my Midi keyboard had broken, which is a piano type of keyboard. So I replied saying ‘no’ to the camera but if you have a keyboard for sale then I’ll take that because I need one badly. Then he said that he had a spare one sitting there which he could sell to me.”
“When Supreme went to post it, there was a postal strike so he couldn’t, which led to us meeting up. He drove down to my house which was the first time we had linked up. This was about 10 years ago. Supreme was on making R&B instrumentals at the time, so we just made some mad R&B beats. From there, it just flowed and it became a thing most weekends to where we are today.”
Supreme: “I had just finished college and I remember it started to become part of my routine most weekends. The same routine, order some of Olivia’s pizza, and then we would just be working.”
“When you’re in a vibe, try and scale it as much as possible.”
Styles: “One thing I would tell anyone, if you are on to something you need to give it you’re all. Back then we didn’t have a clear vision, we were only eighteen, nineteen at this time. However, if we really got behind some of our projects and pushed them, who knows what would have happened? But you learn. When you’re in a vibe, try and scale it as much as possible.”
What have been your career highlights so far?
Supreme: “There was a point when we both took a spontaneous trip to Amsterdam. It was a random mid-week thought. I remember the feeling around the time of booking the flight that everything we were doing was really working out. I had quit my job that year, Styles and I were patterning industry work, we had businesses that were generating enough for us to not have to go to work.”
“All these years of struggling and doubters, that feeling you get when you feel it’s finally going somewhere was a sense of relief, even though you know you have a long way to go still. You get that more as you go along, but that was the first time I felt it.”
“I had the same feeling when we were in a session with Young Thug, Gunna, Lil Duke, Wakka and Giggs. We played one of our beats, which we already knew was a banger as it was one of our personal favourites. When we played it, it took over the whole room, everyone stopped and was just straight vibing with it. That was another similar feeling, a highlight, confirmation that we can do this. As a creative, pressure builds in certain situations, but you never really feel the full weight of pressure if you are equipped for those certain situations, this is something which you learn and grow with.”
Styles: “For me, one of my career highlights has to be the Drake concert we went to at the O2 Arena. ‘Whippin Excursion’ was going off at that time. I remember me and Supreme were going through a really bad time in our lives.”
“We had a lot of aggro at home, we had new kids on the way, the studio was having to go, there was a lot of stress building. I was staying at the studio on the sofa at the time and felt like I needed to pick myself up and do something fun, so I made sure Supreme was free and then just booked the tickets that were available the night before.”
“This was the first London show of the Drake Tour, so no one knew what the set up was, or what was going to happen. We were there enjoying it, Drake was doing his thing, and all of a sudden, the whole stadium turned green. “Whippin Excursion”, the song which I had produced starts blaring around the whole arena, and Giggs jumps out in front of twenty-five to thirty thousand screaming people. I was just looking around screaming as well, I lost my voice. I had no idea the song was part of the set.”
Supreme: “It was completely in the moment, the mad thing was that the energy levels changed so quickly, within a matter of hearing the first two seconds of the song. We were gassed and screaming. Seeing a song that Styles had made in our studio go to this level to that many people, when you looked around all you saw was lights out…it was mad.”
Styles: “Another one was the first time we went to Miami. We got up off of our backs ten days before and just booked a trip to Miami. It was something that we wanted to do when we first linked up, living the dream, which is something we had spoke about. When we made that happen I believe it was monumental.”
“This was at a time when I was working quite close with Ace Hood, so we were able to link up in the studio with him over there. We had a big condo high up, seafront, with the craziest of views. We weren’t budgeting, we thought that if we were going to do it, then we were going to do it properly. That for me was really living life. There was pressure for us to make something happen over there, but we didn’t feel it. It was our first time in America. We ended up going clubbing with Ace Hood, it was all crazy.”
“We had already been working with Ace, we linked up with him through his engineer, Indie – it was a big part of why we went over there. We hit them up with the suggestion of us coming, and if we did, could we get to work? They said ‘for sure’. So for us, we had always spoken about going to America, so when we had an opportunity, we made it happen.”
Supreme: “It was another one of those moments, you have times when you think, ‘is this ever going to happen? I’m spending all my time and money on this music venture.’ When you have moments like these, it reminds you why you do this, and when you have slight glimpses of it, you think this is what it could be like if I do this every day, and give it my all.”
“You fall in love with the process, building brick by brick”
“Styles and I used to listen to Ace Hood all the time as fans, so to go and meet him, then produce records for him and then for Styles to go on and produce 5 songs on the album Starvation, it was wild. At that time we didn’t know anyone doing what we were doing, it felt like we weren’t sticking to any guidelines, we were just doing what felt right.”
“Whatever felt right we went and did and we still do, but it’s all a little bit different now because we are dads, but, essentially, we have always just gone off of energy. If we are both sat there feeling passionate about a project or a potential project, then we will go and make it happen. At the end of the day, having an idea is great, but executing an idea is even better.”
“The reason why the industry is so interesting to us is that we are both the kind of people that like to watch something grow, we like to plant a seed and watch it develop. You fall in love with the process, building brick by brick, and now we are here.”
Choose three attributes that helped you get to where you are today.
Supreme: “Patience is a big one, also perseverance and confidence. I think you have to know yourself, know your strengths and weaknesses, be self-aware and then work on that. Knowing your time is going to come. We are ten plus years into this and still feel we are nowhere near where we want to be yet. It’s having the determination that I’m not leaving this earth until I complete my mission.”
What can we look out for?
Styles: “We are in the process of setting up a record label, all the contracts are getting written up at the moment and once it’s out I’m sure you will hear about it. We feel we have got something brewing in the background which can take us to the next level we have been searching for.”
Nok Nok was born out of a nickname given to now, fashion designer, and CEO, Angel Nokonoko when he was growing up. Nok Nok injects a fusion of London subcultures including old school punk, rock, as well as the more urban, hip-hop, R&B and trap culture. Another element of influence for the brand is based around where Angel grew up, the island of Ibiza. This is where the nightlife influences and the edginess starts to shine through.
How did you first get into designing clothing and running your own company?
‘It happened very naturally. When I was in Ibiza at the age of sixteen, seventeen, I used to make T-Shirts and customize my jeans. I then used to make clothes for me and my friends for when we used to go out. At the time, it was just so much fun. When we were out clubbing, I would show the DJs my work and ask them to wear it, and this just caught on to the point where DJs were asking me for the clothes, so I ended up making t-shirts for DJs around Ibiza which was awesome.’
‘I wondered how I could take it to the next level, I thought going to London would be a great opportunity, so I studied at Central Saint Martins for four years. That was a great experience, I loved those years, they were so much fun. I felt in a way I had brought a little bit of Ibiza here, I used to hold parties at the universities! In London, there are people from everywhere, Spain, Japan, Italy, so I felt why don’t we host some Ibiza style parties, so as a slight side hustle, that’s what I did.’
‘Then I went to work in Paris, I was at John Galliano & Christian Dior for some time, it was a bit of a learning curve, I saw a little bit of the high-end luxury side of the market, but I didn’t really connect with it, I found it was just a little bit too shallow for me. So I came back to London where I worked for some smaller brands where I designed menswear.’
‘That was fun, we did a bit of everything, we did a bit of leather, denim, shirts. All of the clothing we produced was made in Italy, really good quality, we used to use really nice fabrics and very high-end leathers. In fact, I still have some of the jackets and they still look great after so many years, I still wear them. For me, quality, sometimes you pay a bit more, but in the long run, its worth it as you still have great value & longevity on it.’
‘At Nok Nok, we base a lot of our collections around denim because my background is very denim focused, I’ve been working in denim for the past 10 years, so it makes sense. We make all of our denim in Italy also. ’
‘The price of our denim is high, but there is a reason behind the pricing. First of all, we make them in Italy and we use Italian sustainable & organic types of denim. Then we use a lot of internal details, internal prints in all of them, we use binding in the seems which are printed, then we add a lot of hand finishing and in addition, most of the pieces are limited edition.’
‘For me, those times where you’re not really thinking about selling, you are so free’
How did you develop your designing skills?
‘It was a natural thing, I think you are either creative or not. For me, I enjoyed customizing clothing, I enjoyed writing things, I used to use it as an expression, it was a bit of an art form. You need the side of learning the process, of course, pattern cutting and sewing, for those ones you need to go to universities where they can teach you, and keep you up to date with the latest techniques. Nowadays, everything is going a bit more tech, so you have a lot of software where you can design, back in the day you had to do everything by hand, everything is more computerised now, and that takes some teaching to get used to.’
Can you remember what your first piece of clothing was?
‘I remember I customised these wool pants, if I think back now, I don’t know what I was doing haha. I wrote in a gold pen on the crotch ‘brown sugar’. I remember I used to make a lot of T-shirts when I started which were made with denim patchwork, with the words, ‘I’m so sophisticated.’ The thing that I liked was that all the letters were in denim which I hand-stitched on.’
‘That kind of style I did often when starting out. Then I did another one where I cut the pocket of the denim, then I put it on the t-shirt of the front, and then the waistband of the denim I put on the edge of the hem on the t-shirt. I used to do things like this and it gained a lot of attention early on, friends asking if they could have one.’
‘I also made one for this big DJ back in the day called Smokin Jo. I made this striped black and red t-shirt, and then I had a camouflage fabric on one sleeve and then the other one was made out of lace. I was just playing around and being creative, not even thinking about selling or not. For me, those times where you’re not really thinking about selling, you are so free, you are just enjoying the process, and that’s a very important thing to remember when you’re starting out. In the coming year, I also made t-shirts for other DJs like Loco Dice, Hector, and a few others.’
You originated from Ibiza, what was it like growing up there, and what was the creative scene like?
‘Growing up in Ibiza, there are good parts and bad parts. The good things are that you grow in a little bubble where everything is light, you don’t have much crime, it’s very safe, but on the other side to that, you grow up a little bit naive, grow up thinking everyone is nice. If you compare Ibiza to the real world, like when you come to the City, there is so much cloud, so much noise, but in a way, I loved that side of London.’
‘Ibiza was great, you had the sea, you had the sun, it’s an easy life, and then in the summer everything just booms. I remember there was a change when I was 14/15 going on to 16, when I started to go out with my mates and you start seeing and meeting the tourists. Once we could start going out to the clubs, then it was really exciting.’
‘Because we were from the island, we used to know all the bouncers and some of the DJ’S, so we used to go out Monday-Sunday during the summer, every night we used to go out, drink, smoke, I mean I was one of the softest from my group, the other guys were way more hardcore than me. This was great because we met so many people. I think that had a huge part to play in going to London as I would meet so many people who had come from London, I felt so connected with them, in the way they dressed, the way they thought,… I felt like it could be an interesting place for me to checkout.’
‘There is definitely a lot of creativity on the island. You have lots of artists, lots of painters. For me, the most creative was the nightlife. You had all the dancers, you had the creative directors behind the dancers, they used to create outfits out of nothing. They would go to a fabric store, buy a few fabrics, cut them off and put them on the girls and boys, and then create their make-up on top.’
‘Seeing that process was so creative, seeing all the gays, all the transvestites and all the beautiful women… for me, it was just like, wow!. The whole concept of the parties was incredible. I remember back in the day there was a party called Manumission, for me that was the best party Ibiza has ever had. It was really big in the 2000s, I think they stopped in 2009.’
‘This party was really creative in the way they staged the whole thing, every summer they had a different theme. The whole thing was very sexual, they became famous because the guy used to have sex with the women on the stage, the guys were from Manchester. So it was as crazy as that, I think I was 16 years old when I first went, I will never forget.’
‘That party is where Jamie Jones came from, he used to play in the toilets at that party. These things kind of stick to your mind, so for me I like to mix it all together. Just from seeing the nightlife, how the guys were dressed, how the girls were dressed, the dancers, already there was a big influence in terms of creativity for me.’
This mirrors your strapline, ‘Life is a party’?
‘Definitely, but there is a double meaning, it’s not wholly connected to let’s go out, let’s drink and get f’d up. It’s also a representation to celebrate life, to be grateful for what we have, and seeing life as a party, a happy thing, a sunny thing. Of course, I feel like going out clubbing and partying is in my DNA, even when I’m 60/70 I’ll still be going out, not as much I guess, but you never know!’
What else about the island inspires you?
‘The clubbing scene is just an addition to what the island already has to offer. You have beautiful sightseeing spots to check out all around the island, amazing beaches, restaurants, bars. Then you also have this holistic, yogi side to it too. There are people who are into more spiritual things, like yoga. You can get that in Ibiza, you have retreats, rustic hotels, yoga retreats which you can do.’
‘My Dad told me Ibiza was discovered by the American Hippies in the 60’s after they left the Vietnam war. So somehow they found this island, so they are the ones who really started the whole thing. Back in the ’70s, it was a very hedonistic island, where the spirit of Ibiza was, it doesn’t matter if your rich or poor, we are all the same.’
‘You might go to the beach, and you might be with the Prince of Monaco, and everyone was cool. The status didn’t matter. That’s the other side of Ibiza, it’s about the energy, and that’s why you have the hippy side in Ibiza. There is an area in Las Dalias in Santa Eulalia, where you can see more of the hippy ideology behind Ibiza.’
Can you remember your first time in London, and why was it so important for you to move there?
‘It was love at first sight. I remember I came to London when I was 18, I went to study English in Oxford, that was the first place I went for 2 or three months. For the weekends we used to go to London. As soon as I got there I thought to myself, this is my place.’
‘My Dad was African, and my mother is Portuguese, so I felt I wasn’t fitting in as much in Spain, even though Ibiza is great, I believe it is probably one of the most open-minded islands. When I came to London and I started seeing the people and the city, I felt a very deep connection and said to myself this is the place!.’
‘I had to go back to Spain, but in my mind, I was always coming back to London. It was from the heart why I came back. Another city I have had a similar feeling to that was when I went to Tokyo for the first time! Great city, culture, people, food… I love it all! I have amazing friends there that I miss dearly… :)’
Jimi Hendrix, Kurt Cobain, Jim Morrison, are big influencers for you and your brand, what is it about these people which inspires you?
‘Jimi Hendrix is my all-time hero, for what he represented, his art, his vision, at his time, he was a huge visionary. The messages he also sent out, ‘peace, love and rock and roll’ which is iconic and something which resonates with me.’
‘In the jackets, we have this phrase printed in the binding, and in our hoodies, the binding we use to close the seam also has the same writing. That’s again connected to the whole hippy Ibiza scene, iconic at the same time with Jimi Hendrix because he was around in the 60s/70’s “hippy time”.’
‘Kurt Cobain is more of the 90’s grunge, in Ibiza, there was a time when we were twelve, thirteen, when we were very into bands like Nirvana, Pearl Jam and all those,… That sort of aesthetic comes into my brand, into the whole distressed denim, ripped denim, handwritten denim, that kind of the influence.’
‘Janis Joplin and Jim Morrison are also some other inspirations. Jim Morrison is one of my favourite artists because of his music, his poetry and the way he dressed.’
Could you speak about your latest collection and the process you have gone through to create it?
‘This is more of a proper collection. I have expanded the line a bit more, due to starting work with new agents in the US and China, so I thought it would be a good idea to release a wider range. We’ve added some hoodies, some jumpers and a boots collection which are very styled in the whole ’70s, rock and roll era. The boots are something I believe maybe Jimi Hendrix or The Strokes would wear, because of the Cuban heels, the leather and the beautiful details of the boots.’
‘We’ve used some limited edition leather skins from Italy, and then the boots are hand made in Spain. Again, the whole influence is 60’s, 70’s rock and roll, mixed with the whole urban aesthetic. The denim jackets are oversized, a more general baggy fit. We haven’t got many jackets this season, we’ve done three or four styles, one of them in black which has been hand-painted, the jacket is black and we write everything in white. We’ve done another one which is Tied and then bleached, and then we added some studs to make it rock and roll.’ I love embellishments…!’
‘I love positivity, and I try to be positive at all times’
‘We have also done some T-Shirts as well in new exciting washes like cool die, acid wash,… I like to go extra with our clothing to give it that extra value. We have some messaging on the t-shirt like, ‘Dreamer’, but we changed the “R” the other way. To be a dreamer is to go forward and do what you want to do, follow your dream. We have that message ‘Always Dream’ on the inside of every jacket we make, the idea, when you wear it, is to give you a positive vibe that the wearer only sees.’
‘I love positivity, and I try to be positive at all times because when you’re positive you attract good things and good people into your life. Nowadays there is so much crap going on, the Virus, the economy, blah, blah, blah… so it’s important to be positive. It’s very easy to be negative, it’s nice to fight to be positive.’
‘With the clothing that I am making, I want to be able to give that sensation and feeling of positivity, but with an edge, a sense of passion. We need to make it a bit more poetic, edgy and exciting.’
‘It’s funny, the thing with me nowadays, I just pick things up from different feelings I’m going through, I might be writing something about it and suddenly I come up with some words or phrase that works great as a print in a tee or hoodie, or I might be watching a movie and I might find something interesting in the film that I can use on a style or that inspires a whole concept for a new collection.’
‘We have also created some leather caps which we made in Spain, and then customized them in London, all hand-painted, some of the meanings are based on Frida Kahlo’s work, her work was so exciting! you have all these revolutionary messages, to go against the rules and so on. There is a lot of messaging in what we do…’
‘In addition to that, we like to collaborate with other artists. At the moment we are working with Los Angeles based visual/graffiti artist Ron The Killer. I love his work because its not heavy graffiti, it’s more playful and he has a mellow way of drawing, very LA, very smooth with the colours he uses,…’
‘He is making some jackets and caps for us which are all customised based on Ibiza vibes mixed with his style. He’s done a lot of work with Justin Bieber, Miguel, Eminem, Pharell Williams,… among others,… he’s very cool! That will be coming in the spring/summer season in a limited edition drop of 10 to 20 so make sure you keep your eyes open as the jackets are fire!!’
Do you find it easy to create collections?
‘I’ve been doing it for so long now, so I’m more used to it. It’s a process, a lot of work, and it drains a lot of your energy. It’s like your baby… You can work on something for months and months, for example, it took me a year to get a sample for the boots which are now in the new collection. It was an interesting experience for me because I have never worked with shoes before.’
‘You start with the original sketches of what you want, then you have to choose the mould which is the base for the boot shape, I remember the first one didn’t work at all so we had to remake it all… It was a struggle but the final result was great!’
‘In a way, you already have an aesthetic idea in your mind, visually I started seeing a bit of what I want, and then I twist it a little bit, and then have to give it that extra touch which gives it an extra twist. At the moment with the brand, what I am trying to go for is things that I would wear. It’s important the buyer can match you with what you are selling.’
‘There are so many different ways to go about creating a collection, and that also depends on what type of collection you want to do. If you are trying to make a commercial collection, then you have to see what’s in the market, and then create your take on it. If I was to do a catwalk collection, something which is based around fantasy and art, then that is where you create your attention and you might not have to be so commercial focus.’
‘I think nowadays, sadly, that kind of vibe is getting lost a little bit. I remember when I was in Paris, you would see all of those collections from Alexander Mcqueen, John Galliano,… it was all fantasy and beautiful art. Nowadays, things seem to be going down the commercial avenue more. Which is fine, a lot of people say being a designer you have to be commercial too. If I wanted to create something which is rawer, then I will just look at something that I feel is “rawer” for inspiration.’
‘For my latest collection, I was producing the boots in Spain, then I was doing the denim in Italy, so I had to go to Spain every week/two weeks, then the same with Italy. Then you have to choose all the trimmings, make sure all the details are fine. Sometimes it’s a learning curve, some things you may think will look great don’t work, so you have to learn and adapt.’
‘For example for our boot, I wanted to put an embossed print in the sole which looked amazing in the mock-ups, but the annoying thing was you would wear it once and it would wear away. Things like this you need to tweak, and that can take a long time to get it right.’
‘it’s about training the consumer about what’s behind what they buy’
How important is sustainability for you, and do you think the fashion industry can be doing more to help it?
‘It’s not like all of the sustainability problems have just appeared. Sustainability problems have been going on for a long time, but it just happens now that people are paying more attention, and they are starting to do something about it. At the end of the day, it’s about training the consumer about what’s behind what they buy.’
‘I do some consultancy work for other brands. I do some work for a company which is based in Bangladesh which is totally the opposite market to what I normally do, it’s fast fashion. Sustainability is very important to them over there, they are introducing new machines, there are a lot of new companies supplying all this new machinery that they are starting to work with.’
‘These machines use technology that avoid using chemicals when producing clothes and for denim, some help reduces the water usage when you wash it. Others like the Ozone machine helps you achieve fading the denim to lighter shades without using bleach,… Denim is one of the biggest polluters in the fashion industry because it consumes a lot of water when you wash it and it uses a lot of chemicals during the different washing processes.’
‘In my case, for our Denim, we use organic cotton, so the denim we use is 100% organic, then hoodies and T-shirts are also organic. The boots not yet but I’m trying to find organic leather or some sort of sustainable component to add to them.’
‘At the same time, every year sustainability is going to evolve and increase its offering due to new technology being added and with companies and consumers investing in it. Now you can use chemical-free trimmings like buttons, snaps, zippers,… amongst others, the industry is gearing towards a greener direction which is very positive.’
‘Consumers need to understand the problem which is going on and what they are buying, and at the same time, understand the price that comes with the pieces of clothing or shoes which are organic. It’s more expensive to produce organic clothing. At the movement, organic technology is very niche, so they have to charge more meaning we as the designers need to charge more too.’
‘The Denim fabric we use is an Italian Mill, produced at a manufacturer called ITAL DENIM. They are very good because they are always working on new, more eco-friendly fabrics. So for this season, the fabrics we have used, they call it smart indigo, they worked very carefully on the amount of water that they use for the production and at the same time the electricity they use, among other things. The raw materials they use are organic & recycled pieces of cotton, taking out chemicals during their dying process.’
‘So the sourcing and making of the fabric are very sustainable. At the same time, I’m also offering a product which is exciting & fashionable. I’m not just doing the basic trucker jacket with a basic fabric, I’m taking it to a new level. I’m offering Fashion whilst being as sustainable as we can be.’
Can you talk about the ‘Viva la Revolution’messaging found on some of your jackets and hats?
‘Let’s be honest, the system is designed to use you. Having that third eye that’s checking in all of us, this is not how everything works, what they teach me in school is not actually how the world is. What they tell you on the TV, that’s not all the time what is really happening.’
‘Have your own revolution and your own way. Sometimes, go against the rules, why do you have to follow what the teacher is telling you? You can question things. In a way, I began my brand because, yes I would love to take it to the next level, but at the same time, I have done it to be independent, to be able to go at my own pace and direction.’
‘That’s the beauty of having your own brand, you can express what you want, you can drive it the way you want it. Of course, there is a risk, your putting in money, and you might lose that money, but I think there is an eternal satisfaction that you don’t get in other work and jobs. It’s your creation, and you can take it to where ever you want, that freedom is very important to me.’
Your photos and videos to showcase your products are amazing, how involved are you in the shoots?
‘I get involved with all of them, I need to be involved with them to give across the whole concept. For our first season collection, everything was hand-painted, with street and rock and roll elements, so in the video, we had a lot of graffiti in the background which we shot around Brick Lane, and around train stations. In the second half of the video, we shot at a rock bar owned by a friend of mine called Blondies, its vibe is super Punk Rock, you can find Blondies in Clapton Pond.’
‘For this season I wanted to have less graffiti, so we shot the photos and videos in a hotel room by London Bridge. It was again, really organic, I stayed there a few nights, and the room was very old school, a bit vintage rock and roll. So I thought instantly a video of the collection would be cool there. We shot half in the studio, and the other half was in that room. We had these models, a girl with dreadlocks, and then this Asian guy, really tall and moody, they looked great together.’
‘The concept was that they had come back from a night out, they were rocking out and had a bit of an after-party in the room. We added some bottles of champagne and wine as props and messed the room up a little, it looked cool! The videographer, a good friend of mine called Darry, had a cool idea to shoot the video in the dark, with the only lighting being from a torch, so we got a really cool effect with that.’
We got to speak with Charlie Sawyer, a household name in the London photography scene, shooting commercial campaigns for some of the biggest brands and influencers around the world. In this interview, we get to learn more about Charlie’s journey in his early career…
How did you first get into photography?
‘It all started off as a holiday passion, which quickly developed into a keen interest of mine when I began my college course, instead of photographing the mundane subjects around me, I decided to go and photograph interesting people. For example, going to London Fashion Week, capturing the individuals who have dressed up to the nines and attending the shows. This became a personal project of mine which soon caught on with various outlets, Instagram pages and magazines asking to use my street style images for their features.’
‘I sent the images to the various influencers and people I shot, and that gave me the interaction I was looking for. From there it was very much Instagram focused, I started to get a few mentions and tags which developed an ever-increasing following on my account. After that, I turned from influencers to brands, which is the source of all projects and where the creativity stems from. It has now gone in a full circle with the brands I’m now working with using the influencers I stared shooting with on day one!’
‘After my A-Levels were over, I decided to leave education there, I believed three years at University might not necessarily benefit me as much as three years in the trade.’
‘I started off capturing events for free or low pay and shooting small fashion campaigns as well as some of my friend’s brands. This gave me the opportunity to meet the right people, network and widen my circle within the creative field. It was all small scale jobs at this point but it certainly got my head in the right place and established my enjoyment for the job, before I made it a career.’
Did you find you learnt a lot from college or more from working for yourself?
‘I don’t like to say it because it can affect other peoples thoughts, but I feel college really didn’t benefit me in the way I thought it would, I learnt the history of photography and the very basics of a camera, but it’s not until you get out in front of clients with models, that’s when you really start to learn.’
‘My style is very commercial, I feel it’s naturally progressed this way’
‘Essentially, college didn’t teach me the trade or the art, it was more about looking back over the history of photography and specific photographers work. It wasn’t until I had left college and started to go out on shoots, that I began to gain an understanding of how to monetise my skill and create a business.’
How would you describe your style of photography, or do you like to switch it up?
‘My style is very commercial, I feel it’s naturally progressed this way as the majority of my commissions are about shooting an item of clothing for a brand, which is to be sold using various means of advertising whether that’s featuring on the brand’s website or Instagram and Facebook etc… or out of home advertising boards, tubes, buses etc… therefore my style sits in the commercial bracket.’
‘I often have personal projects on the go such as editorials that I work on to keep those creative juices flowing and you’ll often see a different style to my work when it comes to these.’
What’s the creative process before a photoshoot, is there a lot of detail?
‘Photoshoots tend to have three stages, pre-production, shoot day and post-production. The pre-production meeting, which often includes myself/creative team, a creative director and/or art director and the brand representatives. This is to discuss the aim of the shoot, purpose of images, plan of action for the shoot day and timings. I should leave timings out of that really, it seems impossible to stick to timings on a shoot day. :)’
‘Come shoot day, hair and makeup team are usually already hands-on-deck first thing, working away on the model so he/she/they are ready to go, whilst the creative team are setting up cameras/lights/laptops’
‘Assuming the shoot has all gone according to plan, it now moves on to post-production which involves culling a couple of thousand photos down to usually around 4 or 5 which will be used in the final campaign. Colour grading and editing of the images is done by myself whilst any high-end retouching that’s required is sent off to professional retouched.
‘Once images are received and finalised, they’re then to be signed off and approved by the client ready for release.’
‘That is an example of a large shoot with a substantial team, whereas I often do the smaller stuff too, I love to test creative ideas with models, so that means getting in touch with an agency, to see which guys and girls they have available. These shoots are a two-way process meaning the model may want a certain look or image shot for their portfolio which I do in return for their time helping me with my creative idea. What I enjoy most about test shoots is the ability to try new ideas without the responsibility of delivering for a specific brand or campaign, it’s a chance to explore creative outlets!’
What are the pros of living and working in London and abroad?
‘I’m born and bred in Surrey, but my line of work has taken me into the capital. My scope of work doesn’t really exist on the same scale outside of London so the biggest pro has to be the accessibility to work but also the ability to travel to cities such as Tokyo and Cape Town and still be able to find work across the other side of the world.’
‘Back in 2018, myself and four influencers/models travelled to the Maldives to trial a proactive content creation idea. We paid for our flights, collaborated with two hotels over there and contacted brands we have all worked with previously to go out there with an array of items ranging from hats, shoes, bikini’s, dresses and more. There was a fee charged to each brand that wanted imagery and/or videography shot in the Maldives to ensure it was a profitable and successful trip. Something I would love to do again in the near future.’
‘I went to Los Angeles last September, this was my first time visiting so I used it as an opportunity to meet LA-based creatives, models and brands with the hope to fly back for work.
‘I’ve also been fortunate enough to travel to Paris Fashion Week, Milan Fashion Week and obviously London. Next on my list, is New York Fashion Week so I have to say the travel aspect is also a major pro for me.’
What was LA like as a working environment?
‘It’s a beautiful part of the world to be able to work in, I feel the work environment is about who you know, not what you know. You might say that applies with anywhere in the world but I felt that even more so with Los Angeles.’
‘I can see myself spending quite a bit of time over there in the future, the vibe of the city is incredible, nearly everyone I met over there seems to be in the creative industry, not sure if that’s because of the areas I went to or it’s just dominated by creatives.’
‘Word of mouth goes a long way in the creative industry’
‘Whilst I was there I managed to fit in five shoots over the two weeks – The light is beautiful, it’s a real golden light that I haven’t really experience before. Certainly helps those images look a little bit sweeter. The variety of shoot locations is endless, you’ve got all the beautiful beaches, Downtown LA, Hollywood Hills and a short drive to my favourite area, Malibu!’
You’ve worked with some big brands, how do these kinds of opportunities come about?
‘A big thank you to Instagram really- the number of connections I have made on Instagram early days really let me jump start my career being able to get in touch with industry leaders to seek any help or guidance. Since then it’s allowed me to get in touch with brand directors, PR’s, models, make up artists, hairstylists etc… whether it’s seeking potential new work or getting a team together for a shoot, Instagram is a great platform for it!’
‘Word of mouth goes a long way in the creative industry, it’s a small circle and everyone seems to know everyone so it’s paramount to keep that reputation high. My website is updated regularly ensuring any new potential clients are seeing my latest portfolio.’
‘Some opportunities such as a feature in Vogue, don’t necessarily come from personal activation, it can be a case of the publication picking up a visual story which they’ll write up about. Often brands will push it to the press which ensures the story gets picked up and featured.’
What helped you get to where you are today?
‘A creative skillset, friendly face and a chatterbox. I think it’s fair to say you make your own luck but you have to have a skill behind it. I’ve worked on my photo and video skills rigorously over the past couple of years, whether that’s visual ideas that I want to master or post-production work like retouching or colour grading so that’s certainly helped me get to where I am today.’
‘The last two sound cliché but I feel they have assisted me on my career path. A friendly face on set goes a long way, especially when it comes to directing the model and wider team. Nobody wants a dull or miserable person at work so keeping positive and happy is key.’
‘I’ve also been very proactive with how I go about meeting people and being on the lookout for new commissions. I’m always up for a coffee or a lunch when it comes to discussing shoot ideas, upcoming work or general meetings keeps it relaxed and informal which I believe works well in my field of work. It comes down to healthy working relationships at the end of the day, most of my clients that I shoot with regularly, I’m now lucky to call friends.’
Did you find it quite daunting to reach out to random people?
‘Initially, it was very daunting as it came with a lot of rejection. I was messaging people from a photo-based work account that had a few good photos on, nothing too special, with a simple request which was to shoot for the brand they worked for – with the amount of no’s I received, this taught me quickly that I was going the wrong way about it.’
‘I changed my ways and realised it was about building a true relationship with the brand representative instead of just steaming into their DM’s asking if I can shoot the next campaign. I now meet all new potential clients face to face for a coffee or a lunch to chat about the brand, requirements and how I’m able to achieve their needs.’
What have you got coming up?
‘I’ve got a few exciting projects in the pipeline including heading back to Los Angeles to carry out three commissions, a road trip to Scotland in a special Morgan car and a few exciting fashion campaigns being shot for Spring/Summer 2021 – Yes, we often shoot between 6 and 12 months before a campaign and collection is released.’
‘Something else I’ve been working on recently is organising a trip to a location house in the countryside, with a full creative team including photo and video, hairstylists, makeup artists and set designers to be able to approach brands for a content creation trip, similar to what I did in the Maldives but this time on home soil.’
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