Founder stories: TwelveA.M. co-Founder’s journey from idea to LA billboards

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Oisin James Deady is one of the Founders of London-based creative content agency TwelveA.M., now part of the Miroma Group.

OJ, as he is better known, said he knew he wanted to run his own agency from as early as his university days.

His greatest pleasure is seeing the work his team creates out there in the world, and it’s a feeling he never wants to lose.

Setting up your own agency is one thing, but getting some industry beforehand is invaluable, as we found out when we caught up with OJ for our latest Founder Stories…

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Oisin James Deady, TwelveA.M.

What made you want to start your own agency rather than working for others?

There was always an itch to start my own something, and I knew it would never leave me until I figured out what that was.

It didn’t take long – I think it was while I was at university – to know that an agency was what appealed to me the most. A team environment where no one day is the same, working on multiple projects, pretty much ticked most of the boxes I had.

All that was left was to establish the types of clients I wanted to work with. I’ve been fortunate to work with brands which would have merely been a dream when starting out.

Before launching our own agency, TwelveA.M., one of the most valuable things to do was to work for other agencies, in a variety of team structures.

Although I knew that ultimately, I was going to have to start my own, I wasn’t naive enough to think there weren’t some great agencies and agency leaders to learn from.

I got to see what worked and probably even more beneficial, what didn’t. It taught me that I could create a better environment for a team who could then make better work. And being completely selfish about it, work that I wanted to make!

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TwelveA.M. has grown an impressive client roster in just eight years.

How has TwelveA.M. grown?

The agency has grown steadily from what was just an idea nearly eight years ago, with one unknown (at the time) fashion brand as a client, to having a full team of creatives, producers, strategists, with some of the best know luxury brands in the world on our roster – from Tiffany&Co. to Burberry to LVMH.

I would love to say we burst onto the agency scene and caused a stir from the get-go but that really hasn’t been the case. We have grown steadily over the years, kept our head down and really perfected our craft.

One of the most important elements in our success has been keeping the same core team and having longevity in our people and core principles.

This industry and more often than not, interviews like this, talk about ‘freshening things up’, ‘new blood’ etc etc. While I can appreciate that sentiment, without a core foundation or solid identity, it’s easy to waste your potential for greatness and attract the wrong people.

This can lead to a revolving door of ins and outs and becoming a stepping stone for the next place. That was something I wanted to avoid at all costs.

We’re fortunate enough to be growing the team both here in the UK and in Paris and I’ve never felt more confident in attracting the right people; those who believe in what we do and want to make the same kind of work as we do.

With that of course comes new ideas and fresh thinking which is essential to any agency that wants to grow, but it’s different from the obsession with “new” for the sake of it.

What has growing a team taught you?

It has taught me the importance and value of diversity in the workplace first and foremost. I’m lucky to work with a team who come from various backgrounds and experiences and that ultimately puts us in a position to create the best work for our clients.

Similarly, growing the team taught me very early on that each and every person is different and no one managerial style fits all.

As we’ve ‘grown up’ as an agency I can appreciate more structured processes but essentially each individual has their own way of working and it’s up to me to support that in the best way I can.

I’m always looking for new ways to adapt and establish the best working environment for everyone to succeed.

What have the biggest challenges been?

Growing the team and ensuring consistency in the work we produce, while also bringing new and fresh ideas to our clients, is a key challenge.

We’ve worked with the majority of our clients for 2 to 3 plus years so pushing boundaries and not falling into that risky comfort zone is, and always will be, at the forefront of my mind.

This challenge becomes even greater today as we expand into new markets, but it’s something I feel we are more than prepared for through the experiences that have shaped us.

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Tiffany: Just one of TwelveA.M.’s campaigns for Tiffany & Co.

What are the high points?

It might seem obvious but the high points are and always will be seeing our work out in the world.

Most recently we had massive billboards featuring our work in New York for luxury skincare brand, Augustinus Bader.

The UK was covered in our new campaign for ALIGNE featuring Lucy Bronze and on a recent trip to LA I looked up to see our Tiffany&Co work on display.

I hope that feeling never dies.

What’s next for TwelveA.M., where do you see the business in the next 5-10 years?

Up until now I never gave this question too much thought.  But five years ago, had you told me we would be where we are now, I might not have believed you.

The difference today is that we are actively planning the next five to ten years of TwelveA.M. and that’s really exciting.

Having permanent teams in our biggest markets is an immediate need. We have become more and more focused and have built a truly global client base, so that team growth is likely to happen outside of our London HQ.

All of this being said, there’s a Rick Rubin quote from his book The Creative Act (a book I recently gave one of our new hires) that I regularly reference; “All that matters is that you are making something you love, to the best of your ability, here and now.”