Sometimes the most successful people in an industry are the ones who have never worked in it. Jenna Crosby was never an agent but is repositioning what a talent agency should be. After graduating from college in Texas she landed at Glamour magazine in ad sales. During, as she calls it, ‘my quarter life crisis,’ she realized she was missing friends, family and her creative outlet. She left Glamour and became the studio manager for photographer Thomas C. Card whom she met at the magazine. She enjoyed the daily interaction with an artist and providing the support and attention that he needed and deserved. Card encouraged her to be an agent so she decided to start her own agency.
March 24th is the fourth anniversary of Traction Management and Jenna just moved her staff into a swank loft in Tribeca where we met to discuss clients, collaborations and making something out of nothing (literally) for clients.
You are really thinking out of the box with your divisions. What made you start representing composers?
I decided to open the composer department last year when we were doing so many projects that needed music. Music is very hard to obtain due to the convoluted nature of music licensing. Many of my friends happened to be exceptional musicians, so why not bring them in to Traction to help streamline that process? Now we can offer clients a total package along with sonic branding and direction.
From what I have heard your talent is really close and work together, which is rare.
Yes! They help each other out. I have so many of them working together and even lending studios to each other. When I bring in artists it is important for me to have a family environment. I want it to be very approachable…a place where they feel they can be the most creative.
What do you believe being a great agent entails?
It’s all about the relationship. You have to really treat it as that and not a service. The same goes with my clients. You want to see your artists grow but they have to appreciate you too to help you grow. It’s that synergy that makes it impactful and the work does come. I continuously push them to be the best they can be. And them having my support is super important. I get told all the time that coming to Traction is a totally different environment. I have never worked with another agency so I don’t know how it is supposed to be. I guess I am breaking the stereotype.
You do such a great job promoting other people, how do you go about marketing your own brand?
When the company launched, it started off with minimal promotion for the company, just focusing on getting my talents names out there. But now as the market has become inundated, they need more branding and traction and we need to make sure that people remember us. So I decided to do a huge overhaul on the site. Lookbooks was our fourth designer. The last one was in Texas and it was great to have Lookbooks come to me and show me what they can do. Tim Howard had told me about the software and I was so relieved and excited. They really helped me with a built in newsfeed, including an expanded portfolio of my talent and all of my social media. My site is definitely my biggest marketing tool.
I also encourage my artists to be social butterflies and they do a great job of it!
How has the digital age influenced your work and industry? Where do you see it heading?
I brought CGI into the fold because I really wanted to expand the talent of one of my artists and it is something else to bring to our clients. We understand how fast the industry moves and as a result clients often need things photographed before they are even available. My CGI talent is a world renowned photographer and CGI specialist so he understands how to light a product to make it photo realistic.
We had one of our biggest campaigns last year in CGI because the client didn’t have the product ready and that was an exciting challenge. Making something out of nothing!
What is your favorite part of the industry?
The collaborations. Being able to offer someone something they need and for them to have that relationship with my client is always great. It’s not just about the final product it’s the experience. My artists are great collaborators but most of them have never worked in a corporate environment. My job is to form the bridge that spans between commerce and art.
I also love being able to support other artists, like emerging designers, by helping them develop their identity through photography. Being there for them at the start helps build that trust and bond for when they shoot their first campaign. That goes back to my roots in Austin where the city slogan is ‘Keep Austin Weird.’ I want to keep things fresh, unique and fun.