Get to know the founders of talent partnerships agency, Parallel Consulting
Soho Works Redchurch Street members, Joseph O’Brien and Josh Cooper, discuss the future of talent partnerships and going into business with your best friend
by Anish Patel
While most of us were baking banana bread and painting (by numbers) during lockdown, Joseph O’Brien and Josh Cooper were busy formulating a business plan for their brand and talent partnerships agency, Parallel Consulting. With 20 years of combined experience in the industry, they aim to make the relationship between talent and the brands they choose to work with more collaborative.
With producer and musician Tom Misch, furniture designer Yinka Ilori MBE, and ballet dancer Marcelino Sambé among their fast-growing talent roster, it’s no surprise they’ve already worked with brands such as Levi’s and Moët Hennessy to create clever, shareable, and culturally relevant content.
We caught up with O’Brien and Cooper at Soho Works Redchurch Street; the space where it all came to fruition.
Introduce yourselves and your business.
‘Parallel Consulting is an independent brand and talent partnerships agency representing some of the most exciting names today. We have both spent our careers on different sides of the industry (Joe, 10 years with brands and Josh, a decade in talent management) so we approach all projects with a dual perspective. We believe that by ensuring all parties are truly collaborating, our work is more dynamic, delivers stronger results, and sets the tone for future success.’
How would you sum up Parallel Consulting’s objective in three words?
Joe: ‘Storytelling for tomorrow.’
Has the landscape for talent/influencer partnerships changed over the past year?
Josh: ‘Successful talent-brand partnerships are reflective of the world we live in, should drive and inspire conversation, and are most successful when there is a genuine collaboration between both parties. Over the past year, brands have learned the significant value of talent platforms as media channels. This has encouraged collaboration to rollout values driven campaigns with true cultural impact.’
When did you first have the idea to launch your business?
Joe: ‘We had spoken about it for years, but when the first lockdown hit, it gave us the headspace to consider what our next chapter looked like. We were both in great jobs at brilliant agencies, so it was hard to walk away from that security, but we knew 2020 signified the beginning of something new.’
You were friends before launching Parallel Consulting, how have you found working with each other?
Josh: ‘We initially met through work, forcing favours from each other from our first jobs in the industry. Because of this, there has always been a mutual admiration for each other. This stood us in great stead to join forces as we already knew how the other worked.’
How do your own values inform the objectives of your business?
Joe: ‘For us it's about knowing our values, enshrining them in the way we work but not going on about it. None of us should be asking for pats on the back anymore for promoting diversity, for example; it should be a given. We hope our work and clients will exemplify that.’
How valuable has Soho Works been to you?
Josh: ‘After a year of working from home, Soho Works Redchurch Street was a welcome escape from the kitchen table. To get out of the house every morning and, more importantly, leave work each evening, has been instrumental in setting boundaries that can so often slip in the throws of a new business.’
What are your go-to Instagram pages for procrastination?
Joe: ‘@theincumbentagency and @relatablePR are equally funny.’
Josh: ‘@accidentallywesanderson for escapism and @deuxmoi for a good old gossip’
What are three tips you’d give to members going into business with their friends?
‘Friendship comes first, always. Have a clear understanding of each other's different skill sets from the beginning. And lastly, carve out time for non-work fun.’
And finally, what’s next for Parallel Consulting?
Joe: ‘Aside from world domination? We just want to continue to support our talent on their journeys and work with incredible brands to connect them with the right storytellers for them.’