Now vs Then | The Hutton.Agency
Just over two years ago in a small, dimly lit apartment in Phnom Penh, the Hutton.Agency journey began. I though't I'd take a quiet moment to reflect on our growth and some of the highlights on the journey so far.
Thinking back to those days, my overarching memory is a lack of sleep. Thoughts just wouldn't quieten. In all honesty, whilst not much has changed since then on the sleep front, the rest of the business is very different versus our humble beginnings. For starters, we now have uninterrupted internet access, can (virtually) guarantee running water, and it's highly unlikely that we'll wake up face to face with some kind of creepy crawly - yes, that happened.
I will never forget the battles that we (that's the royal we,) went through to sign our first brand for APAC, the hoops that we had to jump through to sign our first retail deal, and the $ return that at the time wasn't even enough to buy a cup of coffee at the local Starbucks - a luxury in PP. With order in hand, we felt like we'd won the lottery. It's quite something to create something from nothing and see the first return. From nothing came something (I am making no comparison to anything involving bread or fish here).
The stress at the time was unbearable. It wasn't stress on the financial front (although we had nothing) it was the pressure that we put ourselves under to deliver against the promises that we made to our brand partners. We still feel that pressure today. Note. We always follow through on our commitments and promises.
In many respects whilst our team has grown from one to two, two to four, four to eight, eight to sixteen etc, from APAC to EMEA, we are still true to the original ethos that inspired the birth of the business. A goal to be different, a vision to bring some of the most exciting and innovative brands to market in new geographies. To give brands a voice that resonates with the consumer, to educate, to train, to create awareness, and turn interest to orders at the point of sale. Our passion for the brands has quite literally driven our growth.
I never want that to change.
I think that the big difference between Hutton.Agency and other business development consultancies is that we work on a results ONLY basis. I guess akin to the "no win, no fee" model but we don't chase ambulances. I think that working this way demonstrates two things clearly. 1. We have belief in our ability to move the needle and 2. We believe in our brands unreservedly and know (from our very core) that we can build a business that delivers results (so we can afford that cup of coffee). It's not an easy model to adopt, and sometimes it takes a while for a return, but we always deliver. I also think that we benefit from the pressure - our business runs with a "sense of urgency" that moves things quicker, without (and I must stress this) losing sight of our one goal: To build brands vs selling products.
I am also proud to say that our growth has been organic. Recommendation has driven our regional expansion and the addition of new "partners" to the business.
We are selective in our brand partnerships, not because we want to work with the biggest brands in the market (we actually don't want that), but because we have to believe in the values, goals and clearly see the need from the consumer that the brand addresses. We engage best with brands that are highly differentiated, have purpose, put a tick in the box when it comes to design and quality + if at all possible the owners of the brand are super cool. If you're reading this as the owner of a brand that we work with today, yes, that's you! (Did that come across as a bit smarmy?)
So if it is our brands that drive us, it is very clearly our people that make us.
I have the absolute privilege of working with some of the most talented and creative business development professionals I have ever met. Biased I know, but I am always surprised by the lengths that they go to to support the team, our retail and distribution partners, and the brands that we work with/for. I guess the team feel as I do, it's not work unless you make it a job. I've never subscribed to the balanced work/life model, as that suggests that work isn't a part of life. We have fun, smile, joke, laugh, sometimes on our WhatsApp group share completely inappropriate content. I don't see the line clearly between my working life and my personal life and I hope that I never do as that could suggest one part is better than the other.
Whilst we have a few office locations, we all chose to work remotely. It puts us closer to our customers within the territories agreed. Note, we operated this way long before the brave new world that is now emerging. Whilst distant in geography, technology brings us together daily. We share successes and address challenges as a team. The business was set up to facilitate personal as well as professional growth - we are all partners in this venture. We move as one and address issues as one. We do not let one person do all the work, we operate a balanced model that lightens the load on the individual.
The future? Simple, to retain our values, grow the team (more superstars please) and to extend our regional presence. We have some big announcements to make soon on additions to the team (I guess this post is a preamble) that I am sure will not only strengthen our leadership and focus, but also through their experience expedite our growth.
Thank you for reading.