Get To Know: Michelle Agyeman-Coley, founder of Future Brand Thinking
We hear how the Soho Works Shoreditch member decided to start her own communications agency and the work she’s currently doing with Daily Paper
At the end of 2020, with more than 20 years of experience in communications and marketing, Michelle Agyeman-Coley decided to go it alone with the launch of her agency, Future Brand Thinking. With a focus on fashion, wellbeing and lifestyle, the agency has already picked up a number of notable clients, including Amsterdam clothing brand Daily Paper. We caught up with Agyeman-Coley to hear how she launched the company and what projects she has coming up.
What was behind your decision to start your own agency?
‘I had been talking with my now beauty partner, Jenny Chu, for a year before I launched Future Brand Thinking. I’d worked with her once before over a decade ago and remembered her being flawless at her job. I met Gwen Klous – my PR partner for Belgium, the Netherlands and Luxembourg – around five years ago in Milan. We both worked on the same Italian contemporary outerwear brand, we hit it off instantly. I was drawn to Gwen’s straight talking approach and impeccable style. Fast forward to 2020, and we found ourselves in the midst of a pandemic, juggling two small children each alongside our jobs. It was tough, and forced me to re-evaluate my life, career, motherhood, Black Lives Matter, and where I saw myself in the next five to 10 years. I woke up one day and knew I had to be brave, take the plunge, and go it alone. I had nothing to lose and everything to gain by just believing in myself.’
How did your experience inform the kind of agency you wanted to create?
‘I wanted the autonomy to do things in a “better” way, which just happened to be my way! My aim was to build the kind of agency that I’d like to work for: one with the upmost integrity, kindness, diversity, inclusion and sustainability at the core of the business. I wanted to create a space where women – particularly those that looked like me – could reach their goals, pursue their careers, and also be good mothers. Why shouldn’t women have it all?’
How do you like to work with your clients?
‘We listen and create bespoke strategies for each and every client, big or small; no one strategy fits all. We immerse ourselves in the brand experience, culture, community and DNA to ensure we feel completely confident in fully representing our clients.’
What work are you doing with Daily Paper?
‘What are we not doing. It’s been one of the most fun, challenging and rewarding times of my career. We’ve only been working with them since April 2021, and in under six months we’ve launched their flagship London store, five collaborations, three AW21 drops, and one very special capsule collection, called From Africa to the World. Being a diaspora child, this collection means a great deal to me. We’ve truly enjoyed every moment, and my team and I are really looking forward to a special 2022 as Daily Paper turns 10.’
What’s it like working at Soho Works?
‘When I first started the agency in January 2021, Soho Works was my home from home; I literally got the agency up and running there. It’s such a great space: comfortable, vibey, and excellent for networking with like-minded individuals.’
What advice would you give a PR professional looking to start their own agency?
‘Do it. Just bear in mind that PR has changed dramatically, even in the last five years. There’s room for us all, but I suggest really dissecting the landscape and market that you’re keen to enter to ensure you’re offering a service over and above traditional PR; you need to carve out your niche. I advise cofounding or at least enlisting partners – individuals that you trust and respect, with complimentary but possibly different skill sets that will add another layer to your service offering.’
What else are you working on at the moment?
‘If you haven’t heard of Sisterwoman, you’ll be seeing and hearing much more from Safiya Robinson, the mighty and talented force behind this vegan soul food enterprise. We’re currently working on a big strategy for 2022, full of fabulous launches – and as always, educational activations for those wanting to learn more about veganism and mental health.
‘Project-wise, we have another big one on the horizon. Keep an eye on our IG platform to keep up to date with all agency and client news: @futurebrandthinking.’