By Egotist / /
Today’s 32 Under 32 interviews is with Meryl Draper, CEO and Co-Founder at Quirk Creative. Then don’t miss Friday’s 32 Under 32 interviews with another deserving winner.
Congrats on being chosen as one of the top 32 advertising and marketing professionals under 32. We selected people who really go above and beyond in their work. How do you think you approach your job differently than other people?
I’ve worked on both the agency—some of the biggest in the world—and client side, so I like to think I have a good grasp of what works and what doesn’t from both perspectives. For example, having been the client at one point, I know how awful it feels to get billed for a simple phone call or email exchange. At the same time, I recognize what it takes for an agency to stay afloat. I’m building Quirk Creative with this unique perspective in mind. We’re all about building relationships where both sides are comfortable speaking up and pushing for their ideas. That’s where the creative magic happens.
What kind of accounts/projects are you working on these days?
The biggest “project” I have going on right now is building the agency. Our clients are a mix of early to mid-stage startups along more established brands, mostly in the lifestyle and technology realm. One of the projects I’m really excited about is the launch of Mumsy—an app for mothers and daughters. They’re launching on Mother’s Day and we’ve been helping them craft that launch strategy. Keep an eye out for the Mumsy video—we’re aiming for tears! We squeezed something like 29 shots into a single day of shooting while wrangling girls and women from age 6 months to 60. It was a labor of love.
What is it about where you currently work that really pushes you to be better?
They say you should surround yourself with people who are smarter than you are. My two business partners—Gaelan Connell and Kristina Litvin—definitely are. They push me to be better and do better every day. We set incredibly high standards for ourselves, but we give each other room to succeed in our individual domains, because it’s a relationship founded on trust.
Our motto is: be memorable, which guides everything we do—from writing emails, to crafting pitches, to developing advertising strategies.
In thinking over your career so far, what work had made you the proudest?
At Ogilvy in Bangalore, my team found out I’m half-French and so they put me on as the lead of the francophone IBM clients. Even though I’m fluent in French, business French is an entirely different beast. For example, I had no idea how to say “database” or “storage software” in French. I had to learn this whole new vocabulary on the fly, all the while juggling my 17 other clients across three continents. That was a pretty epic time in my career, and in the end it helped increase our business in the French-speaking North West African region by something like 200%. I’m proud of that.
Beyond specific projects, though, early on in my career I made a decision to say “yes” to things that make me afraid. Living in Nairobi to work with indigenous groups, taking the Account Director position in Bangalore, quitting a cush marketing job to found an agency—that’s scary stuff. If you’re afraid, that means what you’re about to do is worthwhile.
We hear you do some extracurricular work for animal rescues. Tell us about that.
I’m an unabashed cat lady. I had a little runt named Wookie in India and when I lived in Montreal I had a glorious mouse-hunter called Bosley. Now I foster cats through Jake’s Place Cat Rescue in the bay area.
Here’s a ridiculously clichéd interview question for you: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
For the first time in my life I’m doing something that I hope to still be doing in ten years. I’ll be living the dream if when in ten years Quirk is thriving, and we’ve expanded into the European market, and I’m splitting my time between Paris and San Francisco.
This might be tough, but here’s your chance to give a shout out to one person who has helped you get to where you are today. Go.
Keeping it to one is impossible.
My mom – for teaching me passion.
My dad – for teaching me adventure.
My gramps – for paving the way as CEO.