Q & A with The Suede Room
Tell us about the inception of The Suede Room. How did it come about?
Celeste and I (Jemaine) are sisters who have both had over 12 year-careers in marketing and advertising respectively, having even worked together on different clients in corporate. We then decided to take our knowledge and experience, and create our own agency – using our own insights and observations to create a new gap in the market, championed by a female touch.
Celeste opened The Flair Society – a marketing and strategy company and I (Jemaine) opened The Suede Room – the partnering creative media agency and together we formed a unique offering to bring to the industry.
Please tell us what it is, that Suede Room does:
We are an ad agency, entertainment management company, record label, and audio suite. We also handle brand collaborations, sponsorships and strategy.
What does a typical day, in the Suede Room look like? (Your office space)
Working from home, with an agile and lean team, our days begin with coffee and touching base with each of our clients. Logistics for bookings and gigs are usually discussed with Alex (head of artist management & operations) and Bongz (our manager in training), while Jemaine (owner and creative director) runs creative brainstorms to innovate the content we produce for our talent.
These little sessions really are fun and fruitful and allow us to keep innovating the work. Then we have voice recordings for RBTs being done with our sound engineer in the fully functional recording studio on premises. While all that is going on, Celeste (owner of The Flair Society and head of marketing & sponsorships) is following up with brands around collaborations and ensuring our influencers have all the info they need to be the best they can be when partnering with brands. Many calls, many meetings, and everything run at lightning speed.
Then it’s gig time! Our content team and on-the-road team gear up and hit the road, ensuring every gig or event runs smoothly and is captured in the most creative and high-quality way.
How did your journey in the industry begin?
Celeste spent over 12 years in marketing, having retired as Marketing Manager of a global food brand. This has been her passion since getting her honours degree in Marketing at UJ.
Jemaine had spent about the same time in advertising, working for the biggest global agencies in the industry. A copywriter by profession, Jemaine fell in love with the creative industry after getting her degree at Vega School of Magic.
What projects are you currently working on?
At the moment we have just launched Khanyisa Jaceni’s EP “Halfway” as well as handling brand collabs for her as one of the most loved TikTok influencers, including Fenty, Fanta and Netflix to name a few.
We are also working with 2WO Bunnies, the coolest new DJ duo and their upcoming musical projects. We’re also concentrating on taking their act global from a touring perspective, with a few international gigs already coming up.
In addition to that, we are producing welcome tunes as one of the top content hubs for Vodacom on an ongoing basis and collaborating with celebs to create really interesting and useful mobile content.
What are some of your career highlights?
Working on the Rockets brand and content in 2019 was really exhilarating and allowed us to learn a lot about the entertainment industry.
Landing Fenty for Khanyisa was massive! Rihanna chose Khanyisa herself which was mind-blowing. Watching Khanyisa win Social Media Influencer of the Year at the Basadi Women in Music Awards was a wonderful win.
We also launched Mrs South Africa Green, a really amazing woman-empowering pageant centred around sustainability and integrity.
What makes The Suede Room different from other similar organisations?
We have specialized skills between Celeste, Alex and Jemaine, coming from industries that all work together to create the bigger picture. This means we are integrated and multifaceted, while also having built a very strong and vast network through the years that allow us to have the high ground in the industry.
We are also very strategically focused, allowing us to make very well-considered moves for our talent while ensuring they maintain their core selves. The Suede Room really tries to give our clients a very personalized, professional and collaborative experience that aims to give their careers longevity by using our various skill sets to do so. We don’t want anyone to reach their ceilings in this industry, and that is why we plan ahead and make moves that ensure our talent maintains and evolves their success year after year.
What and who inspires you?
Scooter Braun is a big inspiration in terms of the artist manager portion of the business that is headed up by Alex (Alessandra Wyngaard). Scooter really inspires us to have that human touch and hands-on approach with the talent, making sure that their best interests are at heart, even when they are not sure.
We are also very inspired by the incredible women both locally and internationally that are entrepreneurs, building amazing empires that impact the industries they love in a way that nobody can forget.
Beyoncé, Rihanna, Uncle Waffles, Moonchild Sanelly are all boss women who made their own gap in the market and work tirelessly on their craft. The work ethic speaks volumes!
How do you think we can grow the creative industry and bring African content to the world?
Strategic collaboration is the best way to really open the world to us. The more we work together and understand each other’s value (apart, but even more so together), we will be able to open doors for each other on any continent. Relationships are the currency of this industry and they are imperative in the creative process.
What tips can you give an artist who wants to build a reputation and a career that is going to keep them relevant in the industry?
Be consistent, be tenacious. Work hard and never stop interrogating your craft. Look at your career from all perspectives and work towards one overarching goal. Without direction, nobody really makes moves.
What is your favourite thing about Africa?
Africa has a soul like no other place in the world. We are people of feeling and passion and it runs through everything we do – from music to dance moves, to food, to culture. We are a continent that is felt not seen. It’s that magic that the world is starting to see and it’s so infectious. We have a spirit that is unmatched.
Find out The Suede Room on Instagram
Read more Behind the Scenes here