Creative Direction 101: How To Be Your Own Creative Director

Being a creative director is the dream job of the 21st century. As the closest thing to a CEO, a creative director has a lot on her plate. For the past one and a half years since I launched Soeng Signature, I never thought that I’ll be writing this guide and be a creative director of my own brand.

With Instagram as a virtual moodboard, it feels so easy to sit there and copy whatever’s available because sadly, that is how the fashion industry operates. Even though it’s totally OK to be inspired by what you see, what exactly is the point of being a creative director if you really can’t create at all?!

If you are a young creative director and you’re trying to navigate the waters of this role, I got you covered. 😉

  1. Visualize Your Brand
If you watch Lucifer, I’ll give you extra points for catching the reference!

What do you *truly* desire? If you think that profit and steady sales are what you want to get out of a brand, people can’t sit there and anyhow buy anything if the product doesn’t spark electricity. For myself, I’ve made this grievous error of profit > vision.

When I first started out as a creative director, I always pushed out the product before I visualized how I wanted my brand to be like. As much as I love my own custom made products, what I didn’t realize was that there was no “brand” to my own brand.

If you’re looking to come up with your own brand, I know this sounds hella cliché, but always tap into what you like! If you can churn out a version of yourself and translate that into your own brand, your audience will get to feel the essence of you through how you present your brand.

For myself, all those years of vintage shopping and being inspired by vintage made me fine tune how I developed my brand. After all, people will buy your products if your brand’s image feels authentic to you.

2. What Is Your Niche?

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She’s my #baby ❤️

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I reworked these vintage jeans and Sam wanted ’em real bad! Plus, she wears it better!!

As a creative director, finding what you can build a brand out of a niche is not very easy. Initially, I was going to do a ready-to-wear line that you can custom order; however, I settled with going for customized denim instead as I didn’t really have fully developed skills of a designer (e.g. pattern making). Even though I wish I had the full capacity to be able to master sewing, pattern making and draw like Karl Lagerfeld, I realized that my limitations happened to be a major strength that I could make some money out of.

If you’re still struggling to find your niche, my best advice is to start out with what you are actually good at and work at it!

3. Link Up

Who is your favorite photographer? Do you have any friends who model? And if you want to ring up your BFF who’s got killer pipes to sing for a short film, bring her/him in!

In this case, it never hurts to look through who you follow and who your friends follow as well. In my case, I discovered Jimman through my friend’s following list on their IGs. I know Insta stalking sounds creepy AF, but if you wanna find people to work with, forging your own connections via the app will always pay off!

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Be the Cowboy

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TBH, this is one of my favorite shoots of all time

However, both of you have to be able to BE on the same page when you wanna link up for a project. For instance, take my Urban Cowgirl photoshoot with my girl Nydia. When we collabed, Nydia was looking to create content around town and since I was dying to go on a photoshoot, we had to cook up some ideas on how to execute the shoot. Since both of us had unconventional locations in mind for our photoshoot, we were able to hit it off!

Finding the right person takes time, but your gut feeling on the goals you wanna achieve with your new creative partner will never lie to you.

4. Expand, expand, expand!

Fun fact: I discovered this tunnel while location scouting around Boat Quay!

As a creative director, you also have to expect yourself to pick up more than one talent or skill. During my festival photoshoot in May, I had to act as my own stylist, model and location scout. If being able to juggle three roles is kinda much on your plate, just start out slowly with one thing at a time.

Being a creative director can be stressful at times, but there are SO many perks to be able to make use of new skills!

5. BE flexible

I love having a well-blocked schedule. I love making plans when I think of one to fill inside my Smythson planner. But in this case, I had to learn to be more spontaneous.

Like if a photoshoot is set at Emerald Hill and you wanna dress as an urban cowgirl, is bringing in a red lace Dolce & Gabbana dress going to go along with the casual aestehtic? Even though I was set to wear that dress during my photoshoot with Nydia, I had to ditch it in the end as I realized that it wasn’t going to go with the flow of the shoot.

No plans are perfect, but having a sense of spontaneity can really set the spark to test how far your creativity can take you.

Published by

Michelle Varinata

Lapis - (n.) a layer Shrek once said that "onions have layers" as he was peeling one. Like an onion, I have layers. Born in Jakarta and raised in Singapore, I grew up being surrounded in a multicultural environment. Then, I moved to the States, where I lived in NYC and L.A. The creativity, hustle, bustle and vibe of those cities inspired me to become a blogger, journalist and influencer. Writing by day and living it up by night, I slay in the streets one OOTD at a time. Full-face makeup included, too. ;)

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