We’re sitting down with leaders on the business side of the creator economy to get their best advice for creators looking to launch and develop their careers.
This week, we spoke with Hannah Holland, founder and managing director of HLD Management, for an exclusive interview on making it as a young entrepreneur in the talent management biz, the challenges of building a reputation as an all-female agency, how social media platforms can better protect creators against trolls, and why she thinks some creators see viral success.
HLD is a talent management agency for, by, and about women. Over 35 creators are represented by the company, including Demi Rose, a famous model with over 19 million followers, and GK Barry, a TikTok star and comedian with over 1 million followers.
Hannah Holland, HLD’s founder and managing director, is a former marketing manager. She launched the agency in 2019 when she was only 24.
“I always wanted to start my own business. I wasn’t really enjoying anymore where I was at. You know when you get that feeling, and you’re just like, agh, I don’t want to go to work today? I think maybe when you get that feeling that’s when your exit plan strategy should begin,” Holland told Passionfruit.
Holland said her love for personal branding is what pushed her towards talent management. She said she slowly built up a talent roster, including her first client Demi Rose, until she was making enough money to quit her full-time job.
“I make it sound like it was really simple. But I remember how many tears there were along the way to get it to that point,” Holland said. “In hindsight, I think I was very young and very ambitious, and I sort of just went for it. I think now being 27, I would probably be a bit more cautious to put my whole income on the line.”
Holland said building a reputation as a young woman in a competitive industry was challenging. Big brands and high caliber talent were often out of reach: “There’s been times where I think we could have won talent over had we been a bit more known. But, there is a beauty to being the underdog.”
Still, even to this day, Holland said she wants HLD to receive more respect. In fact, the company is in the middle of a rebrand—designing a new logo, website, and talent direction—to build their rep.
“We’re changing our brand to something that will last the long-haul and be taken a bit more seriously as we develop in the industry,” she said.
As a talent manager, Holland said she’s been knocked down many more times than she’s been picked up.
“You have to be thick-skinned,” Holland warned. “You have to be responsible. You’re responsible for your own career and someone else’s career and that’s incredibly important.”
Holland asserted you also have to be a confident social butterfly in order to make it as a talent manager: “If you’re scared because you’ve got pride, I tell my staff everyday, leave your pride at the door… If you think it’s an easy option being a talent manager, you’re wrong.”
It’s not easy being a creator either. Holland said the worst thing her clients face is a bombardment of harassment and trolling—which can often be hard to ignore.
“The only way you can really prepare anyone for that is to say, ‘You know who you really are as a person. You know what people who actually know you think of you, and that is the most important thing,’” Holland said. “Anyone can be horrible, but it’s just cowardly behavior.”
She also said she thinks there needs to be more done by social media platforms to protect talent online, including personal identification requirements to create social media accounts.
“You can report that person, and block other accounts they make, but there’s still no accountability. If there was actual accountability, and people had any risk of potentially not being allowed back online or something along those lines, I think you would see a change in that behavior.”
For those wondering how they can make it big on social media, Holland said any massive influencer, like Demi Rose, is ahead on major trends. For example, being on top of the transition from Myspace to Instagram, or joining Twitch before it rose to popularity.
For the average up-and-coming creator, Holland recommends diversifying content to become truly multimedia: “Pretty pictures do not cut it anymore, you need to be able to create really interesting videos, create very interesting images and carousels, and tell a story.”
Above all else, Holland said those who want to make it as creators have to be consistent.
“The reason you see people succeed is because they’re consistent in every aspect,” Holland advised. “Everyone gets knocked down, no matter what role you’re in. You have to just move forward and keep your eye on the goal.”
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