Discover more from THE LOVE LIST
"So, like... what's your *job*?"
Unraveling the mystery of what it is I do.
At least once a week, someone invariably asks me, “So like, what’s your actual job?” This is fair. My social media presence is primarily focused on my work as a writer. But that’s only one of my two jobs — and if I’m honest, the lesser. I have been working in magazines for almost 15 years, mostly as a freelance contributor and columnist. Because the work that receives publicity is my writing work, including this newsletter, many people don’t know I have a 9-5.
My day-to-day reality is running a creative agency called Graves Creative, which I founded in 2018.
“Creative agency” is an ambiguous phrase. It can mean so many things. For us (yes, I have a team) the primary focus is helping brands solve storytelling challenges. We help develop, refine, and define marketing. I think every brand should position itself as story-driven. And as a seasoned writer/journalist, I’m uniquely positioned to help tell that story.
For some of our clients, we execute brass-tacks identity development: website design, logos, print collateral, illustration, photography… all the sticky stuff the word “marketing” conjures up. And yes, of course, we do email marketing and newsletters.
All kinds of niche projects fit into this category. Sometimes, it means being on-set mixing up colored clay masks to light-test on models for a beauty brand or commissioning and executing a large-scale mural installation. For others, it may mean designing a hand-drawn toile pattern so that the bathroom wallpaper in a hotel matches the inside of their matchboxes and envelope liners.
For other clients, we are wordsmiths and content generators. We help define the language of their brand — and that doesn’t only mean writing copy. It means zooming out and attacking the big-picture narrative. What macro story are we trying to tell, and what micro-stories fold into that? The macro story is the mission of a brand — drawing that up into a brand voice and style guide is often where we begin. The micro could be something as small as a call-to-action in a marketing email or a social media caption. For example, maybe an apparel company’s newsletter makes more sense editorialized as fashion content rather than a traditional sales pitch.
For others still, we are sounding boards. I have a number of celebrity clients who I work with to distill their personality and ethos into something that translates to (and effectively connects with) their audience. These strategies have to be super-tailored. We take all the ideas and cook them down into something clear.
Sometimes, that means dreaming up an unusual approach to Instagram or YouTube one-on-one. Sometimes, it means flying out to L.A. and sitting with a team of stakeholders to advocate for our talent to make sure who they are doesn’t get lost in the bottom line during something like a podcast, movie, or book release.
Ultimately, we peddle creativity. But we execute it at a high level, in a very personal way. We don’t abide by a traditional bloated agency model, so despite delivering best-in-class service, we can keep our costs affordable for various companies, including new brands with smaller budgets.
Our clients are real estate developers who want their hotels and mixed-use projects to be remarkable. They are public figures and luminaries with a clear sense of their identity but don’t quite know how to get that out in front of people. They are brick-and-mortar retailers and DTC e-commerce brands trying to cut through the noise so their ideal customers can discover them. They’re brands that want evangelists, not just customers. And while they all think big, we want to help them grow even bigger.
One of the reasons you don’t hear me talk much about the agency on my socials or in this newsletter is because I believe in being invisible. We aren’t taking on clients to pad our egos and portfolios, we are doing it because we have a service mindset and think helping people is the cool part. We’re the magic that makes people feel good when encountering your brand, even if they can’t understand why.
Many of my clients value that. They don’t want me tagging them on Instagram to take credit for their ideas — and they are their ideas. Because even though we might have imagined them, they were sold to their rightful owner. We are just a conduit.
I know a lot of founders who read this newsletter and may need our help. We are always looking for new projects to sink our teeth into. You can reply directly to this email or shoot me a note at email@example.com. I’d love to talk to you.
For the rest of you, hopefully, this answers your questions! I have a real job! This newsletter is my creative outlet but not my primary income stream. I make stuff for other people! If you have any other questions, drop them below. I’m happy to answer.
Back to fashion tomorrow! If you missed the last few issues:
We discussed the phenomenon of “Hotness Creep” and how it plays into body image issues, the “tweakments” we endure, and beauty product buying.
I outlined three high-value fall accessories you should be looking at.
I did a deep-dive on the Internet’s impact on New York Fashion Week.
…But I also made sure to serve up reporting on what the girls actually wore to Fashion Week.
As always, we can chat on Instagram between issues. Talk soon!