If I was ever in need of some fashion inspiration, Anna Hart has always been the girl I’ve stalked. Anna is the girl that spots that incredible dress everyone wants, and then a week later it sells out. She’s also got an eye for blogger outreach, through her successful influencer media management company One Roof Social. They specialise in assisting brands, agencies and digital influencers to work together effectively, and of course they do it, all under one roof. I’ve followed Anna for a long time now, mostly through her blog South Molton St Style, and more recently because of her knowledge of influencer management, and social media marketing. I was super excited to interview her last months, here’s what we got chatting about….
You originally worked in a corporate job in the city, before venturing away from the stresses, starting your own blog and setting up your own influencer agency. How did this all come about?
I know it feels like quite a change but actually all my experiences sort of flowed from one to the other next and it never felt like I was making a huge leap or change. I finished university not having a club what I wanted to do, went to see a recruiter to get some advice and ended up working for them. That lasted 3 years. I ran the accounts for Goldman Sachs and Barclays Capital and (hilariously) won the Lehman Brothers accounts, which went into liquidation quite literally around me as I sat in their Canary Wharf waiting room. People were taking the flatscreens off the walls and I was sat there thinking “this doesn’t seem normal.” It was an amazing birds eye view into the financial services industry and – most importantly – gave me the experience of pitching, business developing, meeting new people and negotiating. I really do think it’s my recruitment experience more than anything else that’s given me the skills I hold now – when I look to hire people for the agency I always consider people in recruitment as they understand deadlines, negotiating, huge volumes and managing people.
I then tired of the financial services industry and went to work for a media agency – this was the eye opener. I absolutely loved learning about digital. My clients were publishers and I saw how they were losing money by not offering digital options to brands. Around the same time I started the blog as a means to swat up on my own digital knowledge, and I think it had begun to sink in that I wanted to work for myself (note: big difference to running my own business, I just wanted autonomy) so I geared my attention on working for a client, did that (an amazing lady who set up one of the biggest online platforms with no experience, selling it for a small fortune) and then Vestiaire Collective happened.
The company was very different, there were two of us in the London office (and my dog) at the beginning and we grew it to about 10 people by the time I left. My boss there, now a close friend, was the person who gave me the confidence to build my own thing. One Roof was born when I realised there really wasn’t an agency that understood both the influencer’s perspective and that of the brand. Influencer activity was becoming a marketing issue and not PR, and nobody got it. When we did a project with an agency which total bombed, I realised there was a gap in the market for something better.
I left Vestiaire Collective, freelanced for a bit whilst I recovered from being unwell and honed what One Roof Social was going to be, and then it started in December 2016 with clients like L.K.Bennett, Reiss and Monica Vinader on board.
What was the reason behind starting your fashion blog, South Molton St Style?
I was working in media and I saw where the market was going and wanted to have my own little bit of ‘digital space” so I couldn’t best understand the sector I was working in. This was a time when digital was a “new media” – there wasn’t an Instagram and I built my following posting (in words) my outfit on Twitter and British Vogue would retweet it daily. As if that would happen now, imagine! It was anonymous for two years because it could be – there wasn’t a pressure to put your face to anything. In truth, if I’d known how public it would become I probably would never have done it.
Equally I had no fashion sense, had no skincare regime and my hair was a straw like beach blonde. I basically called an intervention on myself.
Running an agency in the world of PR is not easy. It is a dog eat dog world. What has been the biggest challenge in your career so far?
Interesting that you say PR, because you’re right in that influencer marketing is often done by PR teams, but that’s often why it goes wrong. To get influencer marketing right, you need to be a marketer not a PR. Not to denounce the public relations industry – we owe a lot to them as they were the ones who championed bloggers to start with – but they often aren’t the right people to make strategic campaigns. You need digital metric, pricing and analytics understand to do it properly – and that’s what we do. The biggest struggle is getting the industry to see that.
What has been your proudest moment at work to date?
I can’t say who, but we’ve taken one client from being totally apathetic to influencer marketing – fed up with it and viewing it as a pointless PR exercise – to it becoming the crux of the eCommerce revenue; creating them more sales than press and outdoor advertising combined. That feels really good.
I am inspired daily by people both in my personal life, and those online. Whether it is the Zara dress I buy that weekend, or the weekend city break I book for a few months time. Who inspires you in both your personal life and online world?
Anyone who handles a lot of “volume” in their lives is interesting to me. I don’t mind whether that’s being a parent, having forty jobs, managing a house move – if someone is juggling a lot of things and still producing content then that’s relatable to me. Favourite life jugglers include: Alice Judge Talbot, Laura Jane Williams, Alex Stedman, Lindsey Holland, Natalie Lee, Clemmie Hooper, Lauren Mahon… The list goes on and I’m sure I’ve missed someone vital out.
Equally anyone who isn’t afraid to stand up for what they believe in. I found the use of social media in the last election really interesting. I was seriously stuck on what to do and seeing “people like me” talk about it in a way that I wanted to hear was brilliantly useful. Oh and puppies – anyone with a puppy is going to get a follow from me because I eventually want to live in a dog sanctuary by the sea.
Many people these days struggle to maintain a good work-life balance. I know I have done in the past! What advice would you give someone who does not feel like they have it quite balanced?
Just like a pet, don’t let your phone come upstairs. You need time away from it. The struggle for me is that I really enjoy social media as consumer; but every time I scroll through it I get a work idea and can’t switch off. I also have just taken up knitting which I am laughing at myself about because I may as well just apply to a Cheshire Home now – but it’s so calming and you make something! There is an inner 95 year old trying to get out, clearly.
What is the one quote you live and breathe?
My Dad once said to me “You are the only person you have to live with your whole life so make sure you’re fun to be around.” That stuck with me.
You are always on the move travelling to wonderful stylish places! Where will your trip next trip be taking you?
Morocco next week! Even though I’ve been away with work a lot, I haven’t actually had a holiday with my boyfriend for a long time so we’ve booked a trip to Agadir and Marrakech for some last-chance summer sun. I literally cannot wait. After that is Copenhagen and Switzerland for weekends to see friends before Christmas.
I love being nosy! What are your essential carry on products?
Oh god, I have such a Mary Poppins handbag I always worry I’ve accidently got a cutlery set in my stuff when I go through security. I always have REN’s serum – Perfect Canvas. It stops your face going all dry and also acts as a barrier to all the plane germs (I once googled about it and it freaked me out so much I nearly bought one of those mask things, so this is a good alternative). I also always have a notepad because on the rare occasion I am sitting still I usually get good ideas and need to be able to write them down as nothing stays in my head very long these days without help.
And finally, I ask everyone this, who is your ultimate travel partner?
It’s cheesy, but my boyfriend. He’s ace. He’s the exact same combination of culture vulture and sun worshipper as I am. On our first holiday we just bought flights to the Dominican Republic and hadn’t sorted hotels or anything. We just made it up as we went along and had the best adventure with just the right mix of lying on the beach and discovering new things.
Thank you for chatting with me Anna, there’s some wonderful advice here to both influencers, and marketeers looking to break away from a career and start their own business. Have a read of Anna’s blog South Molton St Style, and follow her on Twitter.