Interview with Lizzie Hardy & Sophie Luhr - co-founders of Collective Two by Emma Symes- founder of Pomba Girls.
Meet Sophie & Lizzie: a dynamic enterprise duo with a passion for connecting people through the medium of “unforgettable experiences”. They met whilst working at Hearst Magazines producing high profile events for major fashion labels; in 2016 they joined forces thanks to a shared belief that together they could offer something unique to the growing marketplace for brand experiences. Their ambition drove them to take a giant leap of faith and launch their own business: Collective Two- a creative events agency that specialises in producing experiences enhanced by “the power of the human connection”. Last month I met up with them to discover more about their workand learn about the challenges they have faced getting down to business collectively as female founders.
When I arrive at our meeting at the Hoxton Hotel, Lizzie and Sophie are sat together on a king sized sofa, sipping cappuccinos in a calm, collected manner. When asked how their enterprise journey has gone so far, they both eagerly respond “better than expected!” Their impressive levels of positivity explains perhaps their success juggling the demands of running a creative agency wherein they must manage uber-high expectations, tight budgets and unforeseen logistics on a day to day basis. Not easy! Neither is the challenge they face as business owners at this crucial stage of evolution within the life of Collective Two, growing from successful startup into a sustainable business that retains a solid position in the market. This level of evolution does not just happen, it takes careful engineering and a whole lot of faith, but by the time I left our conversation I was in no doubt Sophie and Lizzie have the power force to do it!
Q. How has it been taking the leap to set up your own business and what advice would you give to entrepreneurs starting out?
Lizzie: When you start you don't know what to expect - there is always so much uncertainty. You need to be as proactive as possible. Talk to as many people as possible. Meet as many people as possible. Look for networks like We Flock where you can connect up with people; the nature of our business is all referral and recommendation.
Sophie: Instagram for us has been a wonderful tool for promoting the events we do, as events are very visual it is all about people sharing. It's all about getting yourself out there and being seen,
Lizzie: Especially with the brands we work with, content generation is one of the most important factors when designing experiences. Remember that people want to be apart of something, become an insider not just a viewer. When faced with how to achieve that connection for our clients through the digital experience we need to focus on “pictursing” the event so it can become as immersive and sharable as possible.
Sophie: We want every moment to be Instagram worthy, although this is not always easy if you only have a small budget. If it is not possible to do everything we want, we try to make a focal point. Marie Claire Future Shapers Awards is a good example wherein we created an effective focal point a PaperShake origami instillation that went all over social media.
Sophie and Lizzie are pioneering a new approach to creative production that takes on board how we are experiencing events in today's culture; both in the moment and digitally via social media platforms such as Instagram. For this reason they talk of “picturising” their experiences and creating “sharable” moments.These are not simply industry buzz words, they are new ways of describing what is it brands and consumers are demanding as a result of how we are experiencing events in today's tech enhanced society.
Collective Two: Insider Insights:
A great example of how they make their viewers an insider was the New Look Pool Party they hosted in April which captured my attention via the video they shared on twitter. As a viewer we are drawn into an immersive highly visual experience, thanks to a host of unique experiences curated in and around the pool: synchronized swimmers, mermaid glitter bar and the amazing Pan ‘N’ Ice stand wherein ice cream is magically created by a man with Adonis worthy arm muscles before your very eyes. (Watch the video below to experience it yourself!)
"Natural demand for the product"
To make brand experiences work effectively Lizzie and Sophie talk of the importance of discovering environments with a "natural demand for the product". A great example being their latest project, which they are working alongside Chorus by Maxus, anArm & Hammer toothpaste pop up zone they are hosting at Wilderness Festival. Whilst a toothpaste making experimentation zone might not ordinarily be something you associate with a music festival, when you consider that many festival goers cavort around fields seeking out fun stuff to get messy with the move appears a smart one. Combine this with the demographic of Wilderness Festival a place packed full of eco-loving, vintage donning, outdoorsy types who are more than likely to connect with a retro, organic toothpaste brand like Arm & Hammer and we grasp the significance of the “natural demand”.
Our discussion into all things immersive, experiential and digitally sharable in todays consumer savvy culture did not end there. And I could have easily spent all day chatting with Lizzie and Sophie, but first thing on a Monday morning business was calling for all of us. To end they shared with me some reflections on their recent event: Marie Claire Future Shapers Live- a female focussed, power fueled day of inspirational talks and immersive “Bounce Back” zones they curated around brand sponsor Neutrogena . As Lizzie shared with me, a lasting impression that came out of the event discussions was that women in todays society are proving themselves in all areas to be a “force to be reckoned with” and that in itself is a powerful stimulus to push us to go further.
Certainly the enterprise success of Collective Two is proof of what women can achieve in the world of business by having the drive to get out there and go for it. And following what was for me both a power charged discussion and a very pleasant “chit chat” (as my Nanna would say) - I impart this advice onto all other female founders out there:
Always remember to make the most of your experiences, keep connecting and sharing what you do because as Lizzie and Sophie prove: collectively we are stronger!