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After years of big agency life, she set off on her own

Wisdom from Quirk Creative Founder and CEO, Meryl Draper

Meet Meryl.

Meryl reached out to us a few weeks ago because she's got an opportunity to hire a full-time Designer / Art Director to join their growing team. But then we realized, we love her story! Check out more about Meryl and why she started Quirk Creative, her thoughts on diversity in the creative industries, and challenges and rewards doing impactful work in advertising. If you're interested in the job opening, we can introduce you to Meryl directly. Email WEXL's Arabella for that connection.

What is Quirk Creative?

Brooklyn-based ad agency specializing in video and advertising. Essentially creating campaigns and commercials for social, digital, and tv channels.

What is one of the biggest challenges you've faced?

That first year, wondering:

  • When am I going to get my first client?
  • Where are my first clients going to come from?
  • How am I going to build this first portfolio when I don't have an existing portfolio?
  • How do you start something from nothing?

It was a significant challenge, but once we got our first few big name clients, it just grew from there.

Why did you leave the big ad agency world and start Quirk Creative?

To be honest, it's because I didn't like what I was seeing in these massive agencies. I built my own career in the big boys of advertising. This means work goes real slow, there's a lot of red tape, and every decision has to be approved by 13 other people. And from a client perspective, that means massive overheads and less ROI. I had that client pain-point moment when I worked client-side, and for the first time in my life I was hiring agencies and I really hated the process. Quirk Creative is designed like a Lean Startup. We're quick and nimble, and creatives get out of the door rapidly so that we can start them in market and see what's working. There's a lot less red tape and no hierarchy.

Why do you think diversity is important in the creative industries?

I would say diversity is important in every industry, but creative industries in particular. If you think about the consumer profile in the U.S. especially, the people buying products and services, the people are diverse themselves, it only makes sense to have a diverse team and diverse brains thinking about how to sell those products and services to that diverse range of consumer. Also, at the baseline, different perspectives equals stronger creatives, if you have the same type of person that is thinking of ideas, how outside of the box are you thinking? How novel is your thinking?

What is one creative project you're most proud of?

This was in our early days at Quirk and it was a tiny, tiny budget for Western Union who we've been working with for the past three years. This was the project that got our foot into the door. We said we are going to travel around the country we're going to 13 different cities across many different states -- Hawaii, Alaska, Arizona, Washington D.C. -- and we're going to take a pulse on whether the American Dream is still alive. And this was such a departure in creative from what Western Union had traditionally done. And what resulted was a creative piece that was kinda low-budget, and shot documentary style, real on-the-go, handheld. So the production quality wasn't really spectacular, but the responses that the people we got on the streets was so poignant. It really became a statement piece for Western Union on the hope of the American Dream and also the not-so-hopeful side of the American Dream. We did this piece during the Baltimore riots/protest and there was a lot of people who kinda lost faith on whether the American Dream was still alive and kicking. It felt not like an ad for Western Union but more so an important statement and pulse on the American Society at large that a brand had happened to put out.

What advice would you give to others who are looking to do agency work?

The biggest thing about agency work is being able to think flexibly. So agencies, the nature of their business model is working on a variety of brands and clients, and you have to as a creative thinker be able to switch from vertical and one client pain-point to another. That's the reason why I love agency work. I get bored with a single brand or a single project and I love being able to hop from a one thing to another. So that would be my biggest thing to think about when you're joining an agency is be able to prove that you're able to change your thinking, your creative approach, and change your execution, and mold it to different verticals, different brands, different target audiences seamlessly.

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