Creative Lives — Lauren Boniface on creating strategies for some of the world’s biggest brands
“Growing up, I never felt limited as to what I could do,” says brand and digital strategist, Lauren Boniface. Creatively impatient, Lauren's career journey is reflective of her boundless approach to work. After graduating in France with an MA in advertising, Lauren moved from Paris to London, using internships to work out exactly what she did and did not want to do. It eventually led to her first strategy job at Universal McCann, but her endeavours were not without teething issues: “I was knocking on doors of big advertising agencies to hand in my CV – I just didn’t know what the process was” she admits. Fast forward a few years and Lauren has since worked for clients including Nespresso, Nestle, Adidas, Ted Baker, British Airways and Amex. Today, she is the co-founder of digital and branding consultancy The Modern Muses, and looking to empower creative entrepreneurs better communicate their stories online. Here, she tells us what she enjoys most about being in London, and why it is essential to surround yourself with people who support you.
Digital and Brand Strategist
Co-founder, The Modern Muses
Digital Director, Dentsu Aegis Network (2018–present)
Senior Digital Strategist, Freelance (2018–present)
Digital Strategy Lead, Saatchi & Saatchi (2018)
Senior Social Strategist, Ogilvy UK (2016–2017)
Social Media Manager, Carat (2014–2016)
Digital Planner, Carat (2013–2014)
International Digital Activation Executive, Universal McCann (2012–2013)
Strategic Planner Assistant, Posterscope (2010)
MA Advertising, ISCOM, Paris (2008–2010)
How would you describe what you do?
I help creative entrepreneurs such as artists, singer-songwriters and painters promote themselves and their business by using digital platforms to tell their stories.
Myself and my friend decided to start The Modern Muses when we realised that we wanted to do more, create more and help more than our then-careers in marketing allowed us to do. It started as a personal project, but now, we help to inspire and empower creative entrepreneurs to realise their potential. Bringing their vision to life using digital platforms is really what gives us satisfaction.
What does a typical working day look like and where does it happen?
Everyday is different. I usually listen to a podcast in the morning when getting ready. Then, I either work from home or enjoy discovering different cafés for a change of scenery.
I focus on the most important tasks on my to-do list in the morning. That can involve preparing a course, setting up a recruitment campaign or reaching out to potential partners. I reserve afternoons to learn something new: reading a book, attending a webinar, or doing online training. If I can, I attend industry events or exhibitions in the evening.
The Modern Muses
How collaborative is your role?
Currently it’s just two of us working on The Modern Muses. We try to automate the daunting tasks so we can focus on helping people and doing what we love.
What are the most and least enjoyable aspects of your job?
Most enjoyable aspects is that I only need a laptop and a good internet connection to work. That is freedom for me. The least enjoyable parts are all the admin and new tech that we constantly need to learn and figure out along the way.
Do you ever find yourself overwhelmed by work, and if so, how do you manage stress?
I feel overwhelmed by work simply because I am not very patient! If I have a vision and a goal, I put myself under a lot of pressure to make it happen as soon as possible. I manage it by forcing myself to make a list to follow. Sounds simple huh?!
What skills would you say are essential to your job?
Beyond the obvious knowledge in digital marketing and branding, listening to the people I am working with, being genuinely interested in them and showing empathy is key. Being organised and staying focused are other essential skills I haven’t mastered yet.
What do you like about working in London?
I like how everything is possible in London. There is room for everybody, and the diversity of people and entertainment is so refreshing.
Are you currently working on any personal projects?
I’d like to write articles for magazine such as Forbes on consumer and digital trends.
“I like how everything is possible in London. There is room for everybody, and the diversity of people and entertainment is so refreshing.”
What tools do you use most for your work?
My work partner and I are not always in the same location; we are both travelling a lot, and are sometimes in different timezone. So Whatsapp is our main communication tool, which we use to share documents, images, ideas and talk of course.
We also use appear.in or Skype if we need to video conference with a client; Notes through iCloud for our to-do list which is accessible from our phones; and Google Drive to share documents and co-work on a presentation.
If you could recommend one resource what would it be?
Linkedin Learning (also called Lynda) is absolutely amazing in my opinion. The fact that you can learn anything from ‘How to be a leader’ to ‘How to use Photoshop’ anytime, anywhere is just fantastic.
How I Got Here
What did you want to be growing up?
Many things! A princess, a model, an interior designer, a graphic designer then a strategic planner.
How do you think your upbringing influenced your choice of career?
Growing up, I never felt limited as to what I could do. I have been lucky enough to work it out through doing internships, work experience and summer jobs. It helped define what I wanted to do and what I really didn’t want to do.
For example, I did an internship as a graphic designer in an agency in Dubai, where I realised that I like to come up with advertising concepts but not actually do the creative work.
“I was knocking on doors of big advertising agencies to hand in my CV – I just didn’t know what the process was.”
How useful have your studies been in your career?
I studied advertising and communication, where we had to work on real briefs in groups like micro-agencies. That was useful in learning how to work in a group of people with various interests and skills and also understanding how to answer a brief. I didn’t learn anything about digital advertising at school, though…
After graduating (or first starting out), what were your initial jobs?
I graduated in France and my first job was in the UK. I didn’t even know what job title I was supposed to apply for! Recruiters would call me and I couldn’t understand their accent!
There wasn’t such a thing as recruiters in France, so I really needed time to understand the concept. I was knocking on doors of big advertising agencies to hand in my CV – I just didn’t know what the process was.
I eventually found an internship and helped launch a start-up in Cardiff, and my first job as a digital executive was at Universal McCann in London.
Work for AMEX
Work for AMEX
Has there been a project that particularly helped your development?
I worked for six months in Lonsdale Saatchi & Saatchi in Trinidad. I have never been to Trinidad before and I didn’t know anyone there. It was one of the most amazing experiences of my life so far. From a personal and professional perspective, I realised two things: I am capable of doing whatever I put my mind to; and that I need to do much more than working in an agency. Even though I loved it, it didn’t fuel my soul.
What’s been your biggest challenge along the way? Did you make any mistakes in the process?
I don’t think I ever made ‘mistakes’ – I made decisions based on what felt right at the time, and learnt from them. When I went to Trinidad to work in the largest agency in the region, I thought I would stay there forever, at least for a little while. I didn’t realise that having my people and my family around me was so essential to my happiness, so Trinidad wasn’t possible in the long term on my own.
Social advertising campaign for British Airways card Members
Social advertising campaign for British Airways card Members
What would you like to do next?
I would like to continue to inspire more creative entrepreneurs, whilst being able to see my loved ones who are now all over the world.
Could you do this job forever?
Well, until I am bored or need more.
What does future of industry look like in your mind?
Because of the evolution of technology, the digital advertising industry is experiencing some important changes. The change of mindset in the upcoming generation also means that they are seeking meaning in their life as well as a pay check! I definitely think that the traditional 9–5 work environment will become less popular, and that is a good thing.
Words of Wisdom
What advice would you give to an emerging creative wanting to get into the same line of work?
Don’t let anyone stop you to from being who you want to be – or do what you want to do. If you feel stuck, move on and surround yourself with people who share the same vision. Follow your passion, even as a side hustle. That will keep you sane.