I'm Andrea and I'm Head of Creative & Strategy at a design agency
Describe your job
I lead a multidisciplinary team of designers including graphic, brand, environment, and spatial design; I oversee, support, and manage the delivery of design projects and manage the day to day running of the studio.
As studio head I manage the relationship between the Creative team and the Account Management team and assess and clarify incoming client briefs, then assign the appropriate designers to projects. Day to day I track our project goals, client and account management expectations, and our workflow to ensure a smooth process and delivery.
As creative and strategic lead I translate consumer insights and design trends into creative strategy for clients that will guide their activity and direction.
I provide creative direction and motivation to designers for all projects, overseeing the studio output and still getting involved with creative production when needed.
I am responsible for recruitment and selection decisions as well as being focused on the personal and professional development of my team, helping them feel engaged, fulfilled, and recognised.
What are the most important skills you need to do your job?
Although it is a key part of the job, to be a creative and strategic lead it is not simply having visual and conceptual skills, or the insight and experience to be able to define strategies for clients.
Being able to see the big picture and architect a project pathway, being able to provide a point of reference and an experienced eye to team members is an important part of the day to day of the role. You need a strong understanding of design principles and a visual point of view to share.
I know that the work environment is key, and my ambition is to create a culture of creativity and a fulfilling atmosphere for employees. To lead the team, I also have great organizational skills to keep projects running smoothly.
I left school and...
I studied furniture design at university and very luckily found a job in the field only six months after graduating. I spent three years in a fine furniture and interiors workshop creating and crafting the most wonderful objects.
The transition to retail design was made due to a relocation, but I certainly found my forte. My progression from junior to creative lead has involved periods working at the most innovative and demanding end of the market with a spell in Selfridges design management, and technical design and project costing for a construction company adding to my commercial experience.
I have been working at a senior level agency side in retail for 8 years and love the variety, pace, and the combination of strategy and creative flair that the industry offers.
I’m most proud of...
Following on from the successful launch of the House of Colour Play concept, Etude House wanted to revisit the sweet and playful aesthetic of the brand’s roots with a renewed retail identity.
The project was delivered entirely remotely and during lockdown and with a team of just two designers.
The concept created a playground of cosmetic retail that layered experiential and interactive elements to communicate the brand identity and ethos. Personalisation is at the core of the offer, from an interactive skin scan and foundation mixing station where your product is delivered by robot, to play tables where palettes can be built. In-store messaging focuses on the emotional pay-off and the ETUDE House values of Playful, Trendy, Lovely.
The new store concept has seen increased net sales of circa 147%. The introduction of experiential touchpoint designs has also resulted in full reservation of the Foundation Factory, every time, every day, and increase in both footfall and eye shadow sales owing to the Palette Playtime zone.
Before I started my career, I wish I knew…
I wish I’d realised earlier that comparison is the thief of joy-
from social media’s highlight reels to media enforcing the idea that we must achieve a certain level of accomplishment to be considered a ‘designer’ who has a value or point of view worth sharing.
There will always be others in your agency, your circle, who are better than you. Don’t see them as a threat or become negative about your own work or career path, look to them as an inspiration.
A mistake I made which you can avoid repeating is...
Commuting is always a terrible idea. A job is part of your lifestyle, but it is not your life. You can be dedicated and passionate but need diversity and downtime to be the best designer you can be.
So, what’s next?
Over the next five years I will be working to raise the reputation and reach of our studio in terms of the quality of our creative thought and defining our place within the sector as retail experts.