Looking at Blue, you can almost see her bubbling. She is effervescent, radiating energy, positivity and drive. Her vibe is infectious, you cannot escape a meeting with her without leaving with an extra spring in your step! A remarkable business woman with a career spanning over a decade at British Vogue, Blue recently changed tact and is overseeing Brand Partnerships at MTArt, the world's first and leading talent agency for visual artists.
In her "spare time"' (Blue is also a wife and mother of two!) she trains and competes triathlons, swims channels and last year raised over £40,000 for MIND charity, following the tragic loss of her brother to suicide. She is also a volunteer stylist for Smartworks; an amazing female charity which helps underprivileged women across the UK get back into the workplace.
A truly remarkable woman and one of my personal inspirations, I take huge pleasure introducing you to wonderful Blue.
Photographed in the MTArt London office surrounded by works from their current portfolio of artists, Blue wears Sophie Lis Jewellery throughout the shoot. Light Poem pictured by Robert Montgomery
1.) Can you tell me a little bit about the pathway that lead you to the fashion world. How did you find yourself at Vogue?
After completing a degree in languages, I was keen to use them and so jumped at the chance when offered a job at Condé Nast Traveller. After a year my boss moved to Vogue magazine and I was lucky enough to move with her. My new boss Emma was an incredible influence on my career and really helped me carve my pathway at the magazine where I worked for eleven years.
2.) After working in the fashion world for such a long time, how did you decide what to do next?
After over a decade at Vogue, I had got married, had 2 children and had basically grown up there, I was hungry for a change. I took a very enjoyable twelve month contract at Wallpaper* magazine. Halfway through the contract Covid hit, which made planning my next step even trickier but, like my move into the fashion industry, my move into the art world wasn't hugely premeditated.
A timely introduction from a wonderful friend lead to a meeting with my new boss and CEO Marine Tanguy and her company MTArt. I remember feeling incredibly excited and impressed learning about the company and its future potential was something I wanted to be a part of.
3.) Tell us a little bit about MTArt and your role there.
MTArt is the art sector's first and leading talent agency for visual artists. We see the value in investing in 'the artist', not just the artwork. Our goal is to build artists' reputations across key areas; art collecting, brand collaborations, public art, digital audiences, institutional recognition and of course the NFT market. Also to use art as a tool to inspire, innovate and create impact.
My job is Director of Brand Partnerships, which involves coming up with and implementing cool, innovative and sustainable ways for brands we admire to collaborate with the artists we represent.
4.) What gives you the most satisfaction / sense of achievement / yaaasss moment?!
I love getting to know the Artists I am working with. In terms of that "yaassss" moment, I think anyone in a commercial, revenue-driving role, loves closing a deal. I definitely do.
I also love seeing a project come to life, especially one where not only the artist and brand are thrilled by the outcome, but one that actually has reach, impact and inspires a wider audience.
A nice dollop of press coverage to boot can be the cherry on the top.
5.) You have recently been back to lecture at the Condé Nast College of Fashion. Can you share your inspirational words of wisdom?
I love going back to Condé Nast, It's such a great place and I've really enjoyed the talks I've been invited to do there.
My best advice when you are starting out is that you need to graft. Go beyond what is expected of you, have a can-do, roll your sleeves up attitude and don't be afraid of hard work. As a Brit, networking and putting myself out there does not come easily to me but it pays dividends in the long run.
Finally... RESEARCH, do your homework! I remember interviewing what felt like thousands of candidates for a Creative Director role on my team at Vogue. I can't tell you how many of them when asked who their all time favourite Vogue photographer was, couldn't name a single one!! It would just blow my mind again and again... in a really bad way!
6.) Is there anything outside your career which has had a serious effect on your life.
I think the obvious answer here is starting a family but I think most of us have read enough of those answers. Losing one of my brothers Nicko last year definitely had a profound effect and has changed me as a person too but that's still quite recent.
Thinking in broader terms though, I think the fact I have bad hearing loss and had to get hearing aids in my mid 20s definitely had a serious effect on my life. Without wanting to get the violins out, it's a very annoying thing to live with, not to mention a massive pain for my husband Luke, Otto and Inca our kids, friends, family, workmates etc.
Having poor hearing is a bit like being in a foreign country and trying to learn a language. The concentration you need to follow a conversation is exhausting. Being an extrovert, I love meeting people and being in noisy, fun, social situations. Obviously when you're deaf, all of those things become slightly harder work.
Your confidence takes a hit and you feel a bit stupid quite a lot of the time, especially in work situations where I don't have my husband or close friends to lean on. I often miss funny jokes or punchlines which sucks! I did a Lip Reading course after work every Monday for two years which was a challenge but has been so useful.
7.) I was heartbroken to hear that you lost your brother to suicide last year following his battle with depression. I love that you decided to do a triathlon to raise money for MIND charity which supports others in his position, and that you kept up the rigorous exercise regime after. What impact has regular exercise had on your life?
Really sweet of you to mention Nicko. Thank you.
I basically love the energy and endorphin hit that comes with exercise. I'm in no way an athlete, but I've also felt small senses of achievement when I've pushed myself outside of my comfort zone and managed to do something I hadn't been able to do previously.
8.) Is jewellery important to you?
Yes, I love it. Back in the day I was laden down with beads, shells and every piece of gap-year-tragedy clobber I could lay my hands on. Couldn't get enough! Now it's a bit less intense but I still wear a lot. I never take my wedding/engagement rings off and it's very rare I leave the house without earrings, bracelets and at least one necklace on. Feel very naked without it.
9.) What is your favourite piece of Sophie Lis jewellery and why?
Easiest question. My fallen star hoops. I was obsessed with them from the moment you launched them. Then I bought a pair to replace some favourite earrings that were stolen when we were burgled about 5 years ago. It's really grim being burgled, but these were just the best by-product of the whole thing. They have genuinely been my most worn earrings for 5 years. I wear them nearly every day, run in them, swim in them. Wore them for both triathlons too!!
10.) Click your fingers and be ….. with …….
I know I should say somewhere with my kids, but the first thing that genuinely popped into my head was... 'on a dance floor, in the sunshine, listening to some mates play great music, dancing with my favourite people. Preferably on a paradise island, (goes without saying).