These NCLUSIVE Founders are Behind Hollywood’s Hottest Creative Agency

YFS Magazine speaks with Jess Richman and Justin Giangrande, co-founders of NCLUSIVE, a Los Angeles and Atlanta-based digital creative agency.

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JR: A lot of people, non-entrepreneurs, will say, “Watch your overhead. Don’t hire people … and don’t do this.” But it’s the only way to grow. Yes, it is definitely a risky thing, but having the foresight to know what is coming up [is important].

[pullquote align=”right”]”We started with no money and had to get a brick-and-mortar office on Sunset Boulevard. That is a risk you have to take and know that you are going to go get the business. If you know in your heart that you have something special, you’re not afraid at that point.” [/pullquote]For example, even if we don’t have clients for a new [managerial] hire he has months and months of training to go through to understand our process before he ever takes on his first client. That’s hard. Hiring people for managerial-level positions, that aren’t service-to-client based, is a hard thing to do, but you have to understand that your team will need management.

One of our strong suits is our process … You have to develop the process of what those day-to-day pieces are going to be. You should never do the same thing twice without writing it down and documenting it … all the way down to how [you] write emails.

We have an educational outline on what NCLUSIVE is doing, what NCLUSIVE is, and where we are going. Most importantly, how we handle relationships with clients. [Many startups] don’t take the time to teach and train. But infrastructure is everything.

[An example of this is] our internship program. We hire the majority of our interns because we teach them a wealth of process along the way and they become invaluable to us. We are really hands on. We don’t have the time to “file through” people.

We started with no money and had to get a brick-and-mortar office on Sunset Boulevard. That is a risk you have to take and know that you are going to go get the business. If you know in your heart that you have something special, you’re not afraid at that point.


YFS Magazine: What is the biggest social media and digital marketing dilemma small businesses face?

JG: They don’t know how to correctly place themselves in the market. [Many business owners] don’t know where they fit and how to organize their brand.

For example, when we first started two years ago, companies that had been around [a long time] started to understand that they needed social media … and an online presence. But now, it’s very interesting to see the amount of growth, reception and understanding that it’s almost a given. We say, “You have your accountant, lawyer – and now you have your creative agency.” Because at the end of the day, you need someone looking over [the content that is published online].

JR: To touch on that, we try to instill a sense of life and energy into the brands we work with. Yes, you can put out consistent content, but you have to highlight the person behind that company or brand. You can put out content, but if it doesn’t feel like there is any heart behind it, then it’s just a flat brand.


YFS Magazine: How has NCLUSIVE pivoted from a service based agency to product and business development?

JG: Both of us, coming from the sports world, know how to market and brand athletes … [Evolving our business model to focus on] e-commerce is a natural development. If you grow someone’s social media platforms and you’re growing their brand online, we think to ourselves … “What’s the best way to maximize?”

For example, if you have someone that has a ton of [social media] followers, like our client’s Paris Hilton or John Wall (the basketball player), and you’re driving traffic to their website the next natural progression is to see what you can do with that online audience. The startup costs associated with creating an e-commerce store, versus creating an actual line, that you have to put in brick and mortar stores, is so minimal.

Photo: ParisHilton.com; Source: NCLUSIVE
Photo: ParisHilton.com; Source: NCLUSIVE

JR: It really started to push forward because we were doing so much e-commerce work for a lot of our clients, that are big fashion-based brands already, and we saw where they were lacking. They had these big brick and mortar stores, but didn’t exactly know how to take things to market.

So, we learned the process of how something gets built in a developmental environment; then it goes to social media, then it goes to market. [We learned] how to really launch a brand from conception to design, development, … social media, then marketing and creating the life and energy [a brand needs] to go connect with an audience.

We learned that process so well that we wanted to take that [client] relationship to the next level so, we acquired a fashion-based incubator and brought it in house. [This enables us] to build our own brands and internal processes. [The acquisition] allows us to work with different companies that come to us, take a stake in their company and run their business from a tech to fashion side with manufacturing and logistics.

JG: A perfect example of this is 8thstory.com. We are working with a fashion company that is a distributor here in the U.S. for 17 fashion brands – they sell to showrooms from Nordstroms to Urban Outfitters, for brands located outside of the states.


We said to them, “We’re very good at e-commerce, why don’t we partner together and build an online store?” We’re taking care of everything we are good at and they [do the same] and it comes together for, hopefully, a very synergistic relationship.

This is a transition — the second level of our company. Everything we’ve done to this point was service based … now we have started to create our own products.

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