Diversity in media has received significant attention in 2020 and many companies have managed to improve their efforts with diverse models, influencers, and celebrities headlining many campaigns. Whilst this is a step in the right direction behind the scenes the equality with which many of these people are treated hasn’t kept pace with many complaining about feeling like the ‘token’ cover model due to a trend that is going on. A marketing executive and influencer who has set up an agency to work with brands and influencers to make what goes on behind the scenes not just on the covers inclusive and equitable is Charlotte Williams, founder of SevenSix Agency.
Williams grew up in Hertfordshire just outside London and went to a school where she was 1 of 3 black people which meant a lack of diversity was something she noticed from a relatively young age. This theme continued at Nottingham University where she studied Spanish and Portuguese where she was the only black student on her course. On leaving university whilst many friends pursued graduate schemes Williams “was always a creative and not an academic” she recalls so sought experience in fashion and journalism. She was fortunate enough to land a role working as an apprentice for a fashion brand which gave her free reign to figure out how she could add value. She decided to focus on social media, which at the time was in its formative years, with Myspace and traditional blogs being the main platforms. She set up both and spent time documenting the company's works and the fashion industry. “I was paid pennies at the time but liked this job and thought it was something I could do,” she says.
A Career In Marketing
Williams’s next role was working for an e-learning company in marketing where once again was thrown in the deep end which provided an opportunity to learn about digital marketing as she spent a significant amount of time focused on building a community and on content marketing as well as events. “This experience was more corporate than my previous role but provided great training” Williams says and she would go on to get promoted from assistant to manager within a couple of years before taking up a role at Japanese retailer Hello Kitty who were moving from using an agency to having an in-house marketing team. The brand wanted to increase their reach and Williams utilized her social media and content skills she had picked up previously to build out their digital presence and ended up working on several successful partnerships with well known retail companies such as Asos, Topshop, and Converse. Her next role would take her to Wah Nails an award-winning nail brand where she would focus on marketing. It was at Wah Nails working alongside their founder, Sharmadean Reid where Williams would get an introduction to entrepreneurship.
Launching SevenSix Agency
After some time at Wah Nails Williams opted to take on clients as a marketing consultant with one of her first clients being Wah Nails. Whilst she enjoyed consulting as she neared 30 she “wanted to figure out what she would devote her life to doing”. Concurrently, during this time in 2018, there was increased attention on diversity in campaigns, particularly in fashion and beauty. It had been pointed out that many companies lacked diversity in their campaigns and as an influencer of color this was something Williams was all too aware of. However, whilst she started to get work something which did not sit right with her was that many influencers, with more followers and arguably more deserving of the opportunity were not being invited to campaigns. She asked her colleagues in the PR and marketing space and the answer she received was consistent “we don’t have access to those types of influencers”. Whether it was around race, religion, or sexuality this was the answer consistently given for the lack of diversity. This lack os understanding of the diverse influencers being recruited for the campaigns caused a second issue with many businesses which appeared in their campaigns to be progressive and exhibit diversity treats the diverse influencers who fronted or participated in these campaigns different behind the scenes in ways such as being paid less than their counterparts. Williams constantly found herself being asked by friends for advice given her experience on both sides of the table and decided to start SevenSix Agency to contribute to solving this issue.
Today SevenSix agency represents many well-known influencers and has worked with brands including Bacardi and Depop. The agency prides itself on “representing diverse influencers in the right way and ensuring when they have conversations their talents are not exploited”. Whilst we have had some success on the surface there is a lot of work to do behind the scenes and Williams’s experience and passion make her well placed to help change things.
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This article is part of a series featuring underrepresented people making a difference. If you have a story to tell or want to be updated as soon as new features are released get in touch via Twitter @TommyASC91