words by Hannah Rodway (@mrsteriyaki) and Thierry Tek (@t.mcfly, co-founder of @visionarism)
I consider myself quite new to the game, having only been producing sneaker content for just under a year. It’s been a real journey and it has taken me a few places. I’ve also met some great people — one of those friendly faces from the scene is Thierry Tek of Visionarism.
Thierry and his business partner formed their own agency in early 2016 and have been thriving ever since, working with brands such as Nike, Asics, Puma, Foot Locker and more.
With content creation being a very new career choice and one that is growing in popularity, we thought it’d be beneficial to others with questions and ambitions to converse about the topic and share our experiences. We linked up in central London and hit up some of the cultural hot spots.
@mrsteriyaki: I think the question for a lot of people is how do I start? So, let’s go through your journey: how, why and when did you start?
@t.mcfly: For me, the starting point was my passion for footwear. I’ve been buying sneakers for over a decade and have accumulated a lot of shoes in that time. Before social media became a thing, we were showing our style and sneakers in the streets, and sometimes sharing images through online forums.
With the growth of social media, Instagram more specifically, I started to post photos showing pieces from my collection and “on-feet” shots.
Again, at first, it was all about sharing my passion. But over time, I started developing an interest in photography, and brands ended up noticing my work. It led to getting invited to all sorts of events, and that allowed me to meet a lot of great people. Then I carried on, developing my skills and style while networking with industry figures.
At some point, I just realized that the market was missing something and that there was a gap to fill between brands and the consumers. That’s when myself and my business partner decided to create Visionarism, a structure which is a creative agency specialized in digital content creation, but also a platform that allows young creatives, upcoming and established brands to show their work.
@mrsteriyaki: Discovering your own niche and identity is something that I quickly picked up on as something I needed. How did that manifest for you? And what ways do you suggest others can discover their own?
@t.mcfly: Finding my own identity and what I really wanted to do wasn’t easy. I always knew I wanted to become an entrepreneur in a creative field, but had no idea what my career would be. I studied business and corporate finance and started working in the banking industry for about four years.
Social media has played a huge part in finding my niche. It’s because of social media that I discovered an interest in photography, which I managed to turn into a career. The great thing with social media is that, from a creative point of view, you can get inspiration from so many people who share a common interest.
There is a very fine line between getting inspiration from people and copying them. If you truly have a creative mindset, you can easily get inspired by what surrounds you, and create your own thing. For me personally, I just got inspired by everything I liked, and made my own mixture with it, until the moment when people started to recognize my work. So my advice would be to research and see what’s around you, but always focus on being unique and different.
@mrsteriyaki: Finding opportunities to work for brands and platforms can often be the hardest aspect of this industry. What advice would you give to young creatives starting out?
@t.mcfly: It might be a bit cliché but I’d say that networking is key. Perfecting your craft, improving your skills, and getting exposure to show your work are all very important but the human factor is always the main thing.
There is nothing better than introducing yourself in person, telling people about what you do, and tell your story. The more people you know, the more opportunities you’ll get. One thing though, opportunities aren’t everything, what you do with it and the value you create from it defines you and your talent.
@mrsteriyaki: I couldn’t agree more, networking is easily the biggest thing I would recommend to people investing in. It has proved fruitful in my journey too — hence this conversation! Are there any lessons you have learned that stand out in your mind?
@t.mcfly: Don’t choose people to network with depending on who they are, who they work for, or what you think they can give you. Be curious and try to enjoy conversations with people in general.
Networking without thinking about how it can benefit you is the best way to build strong relationships. I’ve always liked interacting with individuals I’ve met, asking questions and learning from them. You never know who each person can become, so an honest and authentic interest in people for me is the most important. Don’t underestimate anyone.
@mrsteriyaki: That’s dope and some solid advice. Invest in others despite their title. Our future leaders and innovators lie amongst this generation.
@mrsteriyaki: So, are there any misconceptions you’d like to address about this industry?
@t.mcfly: It is a very fun industry to work in. If you love fashion, sportswear, streetwear, etc, building a career in marketing and content creation is great. But there are a few things I’ve discovered since getting into this industry (in London), one of them being that there is no meritocracy. Even if you’re great at what you do, it doesn’t mean that it will be easy.
At the end of the day, it is a very closed industry and getting your way in is difficult. Competition is tough. And even though competition is a motivation and challenge for me to do better, I’ve noticed that a lot of players in this industry seem to fear it. Then, even when you manage to get into it, you always have to adapt and prove yourself, as you cannot take anything for granted. Once you feel entitled, that’s when things go downhill, and I’ve seen many people go down this road and end up being irrelevant and frustrated. You’ll also meet a lot of “blocks” and hear a lot of people telling you that you shouldn’t do certain things, that some things can’t change in this industry, and that it’s not worth it. In my opinion, if you love what you do and believe in it, just go for it, nobody should dictate your actions but you.
@mrsteriyaki: How do you see the future of this industry going? And what is your vision for @visionarism?
@t.mcfly: I’m quite optimistic about the future of this industry. I can already see changes in brand behaviors. They trust the creatives they work with more and more. It’s still a “work in progress” with big corporations but I do feel that our voices are being heard. I’m also very excited for the next generation who really shows creativity in their way of thinking. I can see a strong wave of new entrepreneurs coming.
As for Visionarism, it’s all about doing what we love, with amazing individuals and brands. We are slowly building a strong portfolio, and work with a lot of talented creatives. We want to push the boundaries and carry on showing our vision through the work we do with our clients and partners. We have a few interesting projects in the pipeline, so watch this space…
A big shout out to Thierry and Visionarism for coming together with me on this topic and sharing such value to I’m sure a lot of young people and budding sneaker content creators. I hope our chat answered some questions you may have had or cleared up any grey areas, I know it has for me and I’ll be taking everything I have learned from our convo going forward.
Catch you guys next time or connect with me via @mrsteriyaki.