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Hannah Holland

14th February 2024

Photography & Editor-in-chief: Owen James Vincent

Digital Editor & Interview: Pankhuri Bhutani

Make Up Artist: Joseph Robertson

Hairstylist: Megan Jones

Stylist: Charlotte Harney

Cover Design: Emily Curtis

Photoshoot taken at Hannah's studio...HLD Studios

Hannah Holland has cemented her name as a successful entrepreneur and overall girl-boss, all thanks to her immense passion for her career. Having established her own exclusively women-led agency 'HLD Talent' at such a young age, Holland can currently be witnessed managing and handling a plethora of sensational creatives; some of them including GK Barry, Sharon Gaffka, Whitney Adebayo, Ami Charlize, Charley Marlowe, and Jessie Wynter, among many more. 

Since its inception in 2019, the agency has evolved into a seven-figure company in the last financial year; recently being backed by serial entrepreneur, Dominic Smales, as a non-executive Chairman. But that's just the beginning of its chapter. 
HLD Talent's unique approach to talent management has successfully led to the agency garnering partnerships with global brands such as Spotify, Footasylum, and GymShark, to name a few. 

We recently had a discussion with our latest cover star Hannah Holland about her professional journey, how it was like founding such an established women-run agency, her experience working with such massive talents, any challenges she faced and her plans for her professional journey in these forthcoming months. 

Hi there Hannah. Thank you for joining us as our latest cover star! How has the start of 2024 been for you?

The start of 2024 has been incredibly busy, probably the busiest start of the year we've ever had as an agency. We have confirmed a few incredible year-long deals for some of our talent, and there are many big campaigns coming out. A lot of the projects we are working on are under embargo, so it’s hard not to share the news, but our whole team is very excited for the upcoming shows, campaigns, and collaborations that HLD has been working on. One of my talents, Grace - aka GK Barry - has just gone on tour, which is where I'm answering these questions from: the hotel room on tour. It’s been absolutely chaotic in all of the best ways. Actually, speaking of Grace’s tour, I saw yesterday that in 2022 I had written a goal for Grace to bring her tour to the London Palladium, and we did it yesterday. It’s been really exciting. 

Before delving into your immensely successful professional journey, I would love to know what it was that lured you towards the landscape of entertainment and its interworking? 

I have always been fascinated by entertainment and talent. As a teenager, I was a diehard Katie Price fan, and I always loved the Big Brother style of TV, showcasing everyday people in an entirely new light. I found the industry so interesting, but I never had a desire to be in front of the camera and be famous in that sense. I have tried many different routes within the entertainment industry: I've tried production, I've tried being a makeup artist, but they didn't really stick. When I was 24, I fell into the role of Talent Manager and instantly fell in love with everything about it. I love working behind the scenes, creating incredible campaigns for talent and building talent from being unknown to becoming worldwide superstars. We've also had talent come off shows such as Love Island and achieve great long-term success after the show. I always knew that the digital-forward talent landscape had so much potential, and we're seeing it develop every day. Year after year there are always rumours of the industry “going under”, especially on the digital side, but every year the evaluation goes up. I always felt there wasn’t enough protection for young women and I especially wanted to change that. It's an exciting place to be.

Skirt & Top - Forever New / Belt - Mango / Socks - Calzedonia / Shoes - Steve Madden

Tell me more about how HLD Talent came into existence. Do you remember the exact moment when the idea of establishing a talent agency emerged into your mind?

HLD became an idea after I dropped out of university and started working at Sixty Six Magazine. I always thought I wanted to work on the editorial side and be the Editor-in-Chief of a publication like Vogue - I was so obsessed with magazines and that side of media. This was the time of Glamour when Glamour Girls were the focus. They were making incredible money and were complete celebrities of their time. I wanted to work with magazines in that way, so I joined the Sixty Six team to handle social media.

I loved everything I did with it. I loved the empowerment of women. I loved seeing that women can be free to be themselves in a beautiful and tasteful way, having complete control over their own narrative and could be themselves.

However, at that time, the industry was so run by men even though it was reliant on female talent and female audiences. I wanted to change that, so I started my own side hustle of marketing and managing micro-influencers just to see if I could do it. I started earning more than my salary a month with my side-hustle and knew it was something I had to pursue. At the time, Sixty Six had Demi Rose as one of their girls, and I became her Personal Assistant while I was working there. When the magazine closed down, Demi Rose came with me, and she became my first big talent that I managed. I had friends in the industry ask me to manage them because they wanted a female manager that related to them and that they could trust. From there, HLD was born. It was a really crazy time for me and was not something I ever expected to do. I knew I wanted to be my own boss, I just didn't know how. Sometimes things fall into your lap in terms of you finding your passion, and I do think trying every kind of experience and every opportunity really leads you there.

Coat - Stand Studio

You have worked with so many phenomenal creatives; some of them including the wonderful GK Barry, Sharon Gaffka, Whitney Adebayo, Ami Charlize, Charley Marlowe and Tennessee Thresher among many more. How does it feel like knowing that this endeavour that you started has already garnered such a massive response?

It feels absolutely incredible - there are moments where I have to pinch myself just to believe it's real. I never take for granted how far we've come and how this journey aligns so perfectly with my lifelong dreams, even during the tough moments when exhaustion sets in or setbacks occur. Social Media can be very deceiving in this career, making everything look glamorous and smooth sailing, however there is so much unseen work and setbacks behind those big successes seen online. But despite the challenges, being part of these remarkable women's journeys and careers fills me with immense passion. I am so grateful for my incredible HLD team, including my talented managers and senior team members. Their dedication and expertise are truly remarkable. I also strongly believe in the power of collaboration and support across different Talent Management teams. For us it’s all about lifting each other up and combining strengths rather than competition. 

It's truly humbling to witness the overwhelming positive response we've received, and to see how much people appreciate our work. Knowing that women feel safe and trust us to manage their careers is one of the most rewarding aspects. And of course, being able to share these extraordinary experiences with them is simply priceless.

It must be quite a journey initiating your own business merely at the age of 24. Do you recall any challenges you faced while making HLD what it is today?

I remember one of the biggest challenges when starting was simply not knowing how to actually start a business. I had to google a lot of things, I had to ask my friends, I had no clue what 'Companies House’ was - I didn’t know any of it. It was a steep learning curve, but I was fortunate to have supportive friends who had already embarked on their entrepreneurial journeys. My connections from Sixty Six Magazine, where many were already business owners at a young age, proved invaluable. This experience made me realise the importance of providing non-traditional career guidance in schools. Not everyone follows a conventional path, and learning to overcome challenges like mine is crucial.

One significant hurdle I encountered was the perception of young women in positions of power. There's often a tendency to underestimate their capabilities and knowledge. Getting past this bias was - and sometimes still is - a constant battle. People would sometimes question my competence or hesitate to collaborate, assuming my age meant I lacked expertise. However we persevered, adapting our vision for HLD to reflect the changing landscape of the industry. Creating a safe haven for women and nurturing diverse talent became our core mission.

Building HLD into a recognisable brand was another goal. I understood the importance of personal and company branding, recognising how they shape perceptions. Attention to detail became super important, from selecting talent to crafting media strategies, ensuring every aspect aligned seamlessly. Yet, our greatest ongoing challenge remains keeping pace with industry evolution. Staying current is essential in an ever-changing landscape especially with anything surrounding social media. You have to stay on your toes and always think two to five years into the future. 

What sort of advice would you like to give to youngsters or people who are trying to make it into this industry and look up to you as a source of inspiration?

My advice to anyone younger or striving to make it in this industry would be to stay true to yourself. I've personally grappled with trying to conform to a more corporate image, struggling to define what that looks like and how to be taken seriously, especially given my age. However, I've come to realise that my authenticity is my greatest asset. Embracing my quirks and embracing my unique blend of seriousness and spontaneity has been key. This job isn't confined to a desk; it's about building personal connections with clients, having fun, and being personable.

For those looking to break into the industry, you have to seize every opportunity that comes your way. I did my fair share of unpaid work to gain experience. I understand that not everyone has the same opportunities, but even small actions, like taking on small online projects, can make a difference. One of my early ventures involved creating and selling a practical guide, utilising my creativity to its fullest. Ultimately, being true to yourself is the most important. It's how you establish trust, build your network, and truly make your mark in the industry.

I know HLD has established such an array of successful clients also securing novel partnerships with global brands such as Spotify, Footasylum, and GymShark to name a few but I would love to know what according to you has been the most memorable moment of your professional journey so far? 

It's difficult to single out just one moment because when I look at my clients, I'm immensely proud of everything they've accomplished. Every successful campaign, every sold-out tour – like GK Barry sold out her podcast tour last year in just 15 minutes – it's all incredibly gratifying. On the agency side, personally, it's a real 'pinch me' moment when we put out a job ad and receive over 500 applications. To hear people openly express their desire to work for HLD and their admiration for what we do is so empowering. Witnessing our team grow from six to sixteen in just the past year, and now moving into our dream office, is a testament to what we have worked so hard to accomplish. 

I remember starting this journey in my kitchen, sitting there on my first day after leaving my job, wondering what I was doing. It seemed like an impossible dream at the time. Now, looking back, I realise how far we've come and how much bigger our dreams have become. Each milestone along the way holds its own significance and I can’t wait to see what 2024 moments will stand out. 

Dress - Anthropologie / Shoes - Menu Grazini

How was your experience like running a women-only agency? How do you think HLD is distinct in comparison with the other talent agencies out there? 

HLD and myself work with quite a few amazing agencies. Each agency has its own unique strengths and niche. For us, what sets us apart is our collective identity as a women-led agency. As far as I know, we're one of the few agencies of our size led entirely by women, and this consistency has been key in maintaining the message we've always championed. It's ingrained in our DNA to stay true to our brand values and principles. Our core message has always centred around inspiring and empowering women, and fostering a safe and supportive community.

Maintaining that personal female touch has been crucial for us and served as our USP. In talent management, it's more than just business; it's deeply personal. No matter how  much we grow that will always be at our core, to provide that deeply personal approach. Even the orange in our logo was taken from a colour match of my hair, everything we do is personal. All my staff really carry the same morals, we’re all very quirky. Keeping that consistency and strong brand has resonated deeply with everyone we work with. We're the only agency our size that I know of that is run exclusively by women and manages exclusively women.

Top - Anthropologie / Trousers - Nadine Merabi / Coat - Forever New / Sunglasses - Hannahs own / Shoes - Menu Grazini

How would you say has your own individual mindset propelled from when you were just starting out building this brand to now that you see how huge HLD has become? 

I've seen tremendous personal growth within myself and my mindset, especially as a business owner. HLD has really grown as I’ve grown. HLD is like my child, from the talent we manage, our aesthetic, and how we carry ourselves. I”ve always had big dreams for the business and honestly I used to think I couldn’t achieve them. However, now with proof I know that anything I put my mind to is possible. The goals I set for my talent are crazy - and they should be. I really believe that anyone can achieve anything. I've worked really hard on myself and things and have found that situations don’t irritate me or stress me out as much because I know there’s really a solution to everything. As a whole all the little life lessons along this journey have made me a stronger business owner, this is something that will just continue on and on as myself and HLD grow. Every experience is a lesson to make you stronger. 

What's next for HLD and you, Hannah? Anything you have planned or added for the year 2024 in terms of accomplishing things on your own or the agency's bucket-list?  

Launching in LA has always been on our bucket list. However, we still have quite a few goals to accomplish in the UK, both in terms of the goals we have for our talent and the new talent we’d like to manage. Talent remains at the heart of our mission. Unlike other agencies, we have no plans to diversify into production or other fields. That's the reason why we rebranded from HLD Management to HLD Talent. This year, I have some ambitious goals for my talent. I'll be sure to keep you updated on our progress and whether we achieve them!

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