What exactly IS a creative agency? It’s a frequently asked question. For Sophia Athas, founder and creative director of Hatrik House, it encompasses all facets of a brand’s digital presence. This ‘360 degree marketing’ machine includes branding, content creation, PR, social media management, graphic design and copywriting.
It sounds like a lot (and it is!), but Sophia is a multifaceted creative mind. So after realising there was no pathway for what she wanted to do in her law/communications degree, she made up her mind to follow her hustle – and pretty much just do it all.
But being your own boss isn’t easy. After four years of working solo and pouring all the profits back into the business, Hatrik House now has the makings of a juggernaut agency. So with seven full-time employees, fifteen retainer clients and new campaign briefs coming in every day, Sophia faces classic business conundrums every day: How do I balance the business side with the creative? What makes a good boss? Where can I find new ideas?
She highlights business podcasts and biographies of successful entrepreneurs as accessible tools for a real-world business education, but also empathy and interest in the people around you. ‘Keeping in tune with what’s happening around the world is really important. It’s really easy to become complacent with the local market and brands,’ she emphasises. ‘Each member of our team has a unique style and taste in brands, movies, films and content, and we’re constantly sharing our ideas and interests with each other.’
The world has a lot to learn from this superstar hustler. Here’s how the impeccable tastemaker gets it done.
I wake up at 6am and the first thing I do is put my coffee on and check my emails. I’m a morning person, I love the light and being up before others are. It’s a productive time to get things done in peace.
When my partner James is not baking early at Rollers Bakehouse, we walk down to the beach before work and have a coffee together.
After that, I drive into Darlinghurst where our offices are, and start work at 9am. The first few tasks involve going through emails and cross-checking social accounts we manage for clients. The whole team has a weekly catch up where everyone has a chance to lay everything on the table: what we have to do, tasks we have to complete and feedback for each other.
I usually have lunch at my desk, but when I do get out we have a bad habit of lunching at Bills (it’s up the street from our office!) and it’s usually a daily treat.
I hit a wall around 3pm (like most people!) and often need another coffee to pick me back up. This time of day definitely isn’t about new ideas, it’s more about editing and ticking off the more graphic tasks.
I like to go for walks after work, especially if a friend can join. It’s my time to be outside and not have to be sitting in front of a screen.
I finish at the office around 5-5.30pm. When I get home I’ll continue to finish emails or work on more long lead tasks that I didn’t get to throughout the day, if I’m around the house.
My partner and I eat out a lot; so dinner can involve going somewhere local or venturing out (our favourites places are in Potts Point). If we cook, I’m usually assistant chef.
To unwind, I call a friend, see my family, or go for a walk. Being with friends is always the most distracting and grounding for me. It’s not about work anymore, it’s just about quality time.
I struggle with switching off – I don’t think I’m ever fully on the ‘off’ button, but I do find refuge in having things to look forward to: planning a party, nice dinner (or a wedding at the end of the year). These things bring work into perspective.
I go to sleep around 11pm. If I’m not sleeping by then I’m usually reading or watching something so I’m not thinking about work.
I don’t need a lot of sleep but I do like getting into bed early when I can. I can function with little sleep if I have to.
Sophia Athas simply LOVES mornings – it’s when she has the most clarity of mind! Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
Rituals like having a coffee at home while she grazes her inbox and cross-checks her clients’ social media platforms are essential for her routine. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
Sophia Athas, founder and creative director of Hatrik House, at home with her pup. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
After expanding her popular blog into a business in third year uni, Sophia now manages a team of seven full-time staff members. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
Hatrick House creates digital marketing campaigns for brands like Sephora, Chanel, Gucci and Frank Body. Their ful suite of services includes branding, PR, content creation, graphic design, social media management and copywriting. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
Organisation and inspiration are key. ‘The more projects we work on the more you realise how important briefing documents are’ says Sophia. ‘Details should be ironed out prior to shooting and everyone needs to be on the same page.’ Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
‘Taking feedback from staff is important,’ Sophia says. ‘When we sit down for regular catch ups, being able to receive feedback about your performance and style as a leader is, at times, brutal, but the only way to improve the whole working environment.’ Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.
‘Finding ways to execute aesthetics and be savvy with resources that are available to us makes our content stand out in the local landscape,’ says Sophia. Photo – Alisha Gore for The Design Files.