Our Views

FONK Magazine's Game Changers of the Year: Jessica Hartley

Managing Partner of The Humblebrag Jessica Hartley was named as one of FONK Magazine's Game Changers of the Year! She shared her reflections on a pivotal 2019 and her goals for the year ahead.

Originally published in FONK Magazine

Hoe gaat het jaar 2019 voor jou de boeken in? How will you remember 2019?

I’m probably not alone in remembering 2019 as a year of change. And of quite some angst… From a global perspective I’ll remember it as the year that the climate emergency went mainstream - and global politics hit an all-time low.

I also think the last year of a decade has its own pressures - so I’m very curious as to what the 2020s will bring. The 1920s are my own favourite decade in terms of literature, art and culture at large. Each decade has its unique ‘voice’ - and that of the 1920s was exceptional. My favourite books from that troubled 10 years had that voice. So, I’m very keen to be part of the new ‘voice’ of the 2020s. I’m listening!

From a personal perspective, 2019 was a year that everything changed. A few big catalysts made me change my perspective and direction. One was sad - the passing of my father. The other inspiring - meeting my new business partner, Lucy von Sturmer. My dad always encouraged me NOT to work for other people, so I left my comfortable freelance lifestyle to roll up my sleeves and get my hands dirty by joining Lucy to run The Humblebrag – an impact-driven agency that supports societal, cultural and environmental progress. We believe deeply in business as a force for good. And that the traditional idea of growth has to be challenged.

Therefore, we invest time, resources and capital into projects that align with our values. Lucy is a millennial, feminist, activist who lives and works entirely in the digital and social sphere. I have deep roots in creative and am obsessed by craft and the power of ideas. So together we are building a proposition based on impact which we believe will be relevant for this coming decade.

Lucy von Sturmer (L), Jessica Hartley (R). Photo credit: Robert Harrison
Wie was voor jou in dit afgelopen jaar de meest inspirerende persoon? Who inspired you most in 2019?

The person who inspired me most was another catalyst. His name is William Skeaping, and he didn’t inspire me in the traditional way, but he pulled my head out of the sand. He’s a former advertising strategist, turned activist for Extinction Rebellion. I saw him speak in Cannes (of all places) where he explained in very stark terms how the climate crisis is affecting the wider world – and what we in Europe can expect in the very short term.  After the talk I couldn’t speak for about an hour (which doesn’t happen often) and I immediately realized that the climate emergency is THE pivotal issue of our times. I’ve never been overtly political or an activist. But I had to do something…

So, this talk led my partner Lucy von Sturmer and I to kick off the Creatives for Climate initiative – a programme to help create awareness and galvanise action on climate issues. The creative industry at large has been incredibly generous by donating their time, energy and creativity to create noise and visibility on this issue. Over 150 creative executions have been made under this flag since we started in September, and we have bigger plans for 2020.

Creatives for Climate asset created for International Rebellion Week by Annie Chiu

On a lighter note, I’m also always inspired by fashion. I love looking at the work of young designers – two on my radar right now are Daisy Yu – recent graduate from Central Saint Martins (born in Rotterdam) and Mowalola Ogunlesi a British Nigerian designer.

Designed by: @daisydaisyyu. Shot by: @pablodiprima. Makeup: @hatti_rees. Model: @manuloca_.
Welke tip heb jij voor mensen die inspiratie zoeken? What’s your tip for people looking for inspiration?

My ultimate tip for inspiration is SO GOLDEN that I can’t believe I’m sharing it so widely. But I will.  Every two years I’m lucky enough to get invited to the VIP opening of the Venice Art Biennale. Attended by artists, press, curators, collectors, and…well…me.

During the 3 days I amass an astonishing number of photos, notes and quotes from artists in my notebook.  Creativity is the driving force of not just our business, but of culture as a whole. Going to the Biennale for me if like stepping into the furnace and warming myself up enough to keep going for another two years (before the next one). Also, the Biennale parties are pretty legendary.

Anyone can attend the Biennale after the opening, the next one is from May-November 2021 in Venice. I recommend going, should Venice not be under water by then.

Jess at the Venice Biennale in 2015
Hoe laadt jij jezelf op voor nieuwe avonturen? How do I re-charge myself for new adventures?

I have a slightly weird habit of taking ice-cold baths and showers. That gets me up and running very quickly. Other than that I find reading literature and writing stories gives me my energy back.

Wat is jouw belangrijkste doelstelling voor het nieuwe jaar? What’s my most important goal for the new year?

I have many goals for next year - like making some brilliant campaigns and launching them innovatively, trying to crack ways to use business as a force for good, some personal creative projects and building momentum around issues I care about. But I guess paramount is trying to remember daily that time is our greatest gift, so let’s try and do stuff we love - but for the right reasons.

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