Meet our Soho Works workmate, Anita Asante

A woman leaning up against a wall next to a framed artwork.

The London Works member and founder of Blanc Noir shares how she got where she is today and the process of working with AFROPUNK to deliver their first ever global interactive digital festival.

Local Soho Works: White City, London

How did you get where you are today?

In all honesty, I blagged it! I finished university at a time when England was coming off the back of a double recession and I was interviewing like crazy. I always got down to the final two for various advertising grad schemes but sadly never heard the “you’re hired”. Eventually I changed strategy and went to New York to visit my sister who was out there working for a production company.  A friend of hers recommend applying for an internship with the bespoke fashion agency she worked for, run by the current Chief Creative Officer of Conde Nast. Fast forward 5 months and 7 interviews later, I was heading back to New York for an Account Management Internship. It was the best summer of my life working on campaigns such as Valentino, Brioni and Jimmy Choo. At the end, they offered me a full-time job in the account management department, which I turned down because I knew that route just wasn’t for me – I was more interested in strategy and new business pitches. It’s so funny looking back at it now just how audacious that move was but I was so sure of my decision at the time and had no regrets.

Two weeks later after I left, I got a call from the COO to say they wanted me back and had created a new role for me in the new business department, and I couldn’t say no. I lived in New York for a further 5 years, during which I settled into my niche as Global Strategic & Creative Brand Partnerships. Today back in London I run my own consultancy Blanc.Noir specializing in beauty, fashion and music with clients such as Naatal Magazine and AFROPUNK for which I’m currently delivering a global digital festival.

What are you currently working on?

I work primarily in the Live events industry and so when COVID hit, it was absolute carnage. My team and I at AFROPUNK were in denial up until about May when we realised that the pandemic was here to stay despite the news, (thanks Boris). It quickly became apparent that we had to pivot, and fast. Incredibly, I am now a couple weeks away from delivering on our first ever interactive digital festival, Planet AFROPUNK which has been such a learning curve. There were days where I literally wanted to throw my laptop against the wall but we made it and I’m super proud of what has been accomplished and I can’t wait for everyone to tune in and party in their living room. It’s a new model for live events and our festival is super interactive – going beyond just music and tapping into culture, conversation, beauty and fashion – something I think will be here to stay.

A woman sitting on a wooden bureau.
A woman sitting on a wooden bureau.

It’s been a funny year - what’s inspiring you at the moment?

My odd weekend getaways are what have been keeping me inspired. It’s been really great to get out of London and just breathe in the fresh country air. I’m naturally a really social person so like many others I’m sure, I found being cooped up in lockdown really stifling. Getting out really rejuvenates me and gives me life.

Proudest achievement?

Funnily enough, it’s not the seven figure client deals that have given me the greatest sense of joy and fulfillment but when I organized and delivered on a pro-bono project with young foster girls. The aim was to really allow them to lean into their Black Girl Magic and help them realise they could be and do anything they put their minds to, despite their circumstances. It was a jam-packed day with CV workshop sessions, panels, buddy up programmes with badass babes killing it in their careers, mentorship programmes, networking sessions and a photo-shoot with makeup provided by Sephora.

Favourite quote/ words to live by?

“The secret of change is to focus all of your energy, not on fighting the old, but building the new” Gotta love good old Socrates and it’s also my whatsapp status so you know I really live by it.

What are your three essentials for a productive day?

Gym, my headphones and a cup of tea, it’s the simple things in life.

Have you got any Sunday night rituals before starting a new week?

At the minute, I find myself crawling towards the end of the week so my Sundays are for serious R&R. I’m usually just chilling, not stressing that I’m doing absolutely nothing and just enjoying catching up with all of my loved ones. It’s a true self-care day.