CEO / Deane & Co
When a conversation begins with “Start Before You Are Ready”, you know you are in for a treat right? Well girls… today you are in for a treat. Please meet the beautifully audacious, self confessed social media addict Claire Deane, CEO of integrated marketing agency Deane & Co.
Claire is a renegade of the highest degree, a digital wizard if you will, who loves nothing more than watching her clients rise online. She has developed social media strategies for brands such as Stevie May and Isla, and grown digital publisher The Urban List to 200k visitors, but the best is yet to come.
In today’s #careerstory we peel back the layers of Claire’s orbit. We dive into her high school life, chat about her time as DUX of St Josephs College, and find out why she took the leap to start her own agency in 2016. We also discuss the trials, but mostly opportunities of being an introvert in an industry that is flooded with extroverts. Claire is certainly changing the face of creative introverts everywhere, we love it!
This interview is for any girl wanting to know more about the digital world of marketing. It’s for those that love research, numbers, analytics and connections but don’t want to work in telecommunications. It’s for those that realise how fundamental the digital landscape is for any career and want in on the ride.
If you believe you have the grit and drive to launch your own gig, or need some inspo on how to get there, today’s interview is for you.
We can’t wait to dive in, please meet Claire Deane…
Hey Claire, we are so happy to have you visit today. Can you tell us about where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are, and the career you are in today?
I grew up in Northern NSW, gradually moving further up the coast, going to University on the Gold Coast, and then ending up in Brisbane after moving here after my then-boyfriend.
Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to high school on the Gold Coast at St Josephs College. I liked school, because I love learning. I was always big into reading, and so studied 3 unit English, which was my favourite subject. I was Dux of my school, and got a scholarship to University, although I remember when I was younger hoping to not have my name called out at assembly for doing anything too ‘smart’ – something I’d relish now!
Wow, it sounds like you did really well at school! A scholarship? Awesome! Did your high school play an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Not particularly – I’m now in a career that didn’t exist when I was at High School. It makes me sounds super old, but I remember when the Internet was invented, when Facebook launched – it wasn’t until I was in uni that social media became a ‘thing’. I also never thought that I would have my own marketing agency – I thought I would work for a big corporation (complete with 80’s style shoulder pads, and in charge of a large team) and the reality is pretty different!
Did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
I did one placement in year 10 at the Toowoomba Chronicle – I wanted to be a journalist and my aunty worked in admin there. I spent a lot of time going to court with the other reporters, but got a few stories published, which I was super proud of! I did a heap of internships at University, including at SIDS and Kids (who organise Red Nose Day) and I worked through my schooling at Crazy Clarks, then La Porchetta, as I really wanted to do something to set myself apart from the other kids.
That’s awesome Claire. So you did go to University, what course did you study and why?
I’ve done a couple of courses and degrees, starting with a double degree in Communications and Psychology at Bond Universty. I loved my psychology degree, but could never see myself being a therapist, so I used the degree as a real support for my marketing degree, because marketing is basically psychology in disguise! I have also done a Masters in Project Management at QUT, which I didn’t enjoy so much. I was working as the marketing manager of a property consultant at the time and thought it would help me in that job, but I never quite got the hang of critical paths. I do use Gantt charts to this day though! I have also done an advanced diploma in visual communications (graphic design) and while I don’t tend to use the practical skills I learned, I definitely employ design thinking in my work every day. It also has made briefing and working with designers a whole lot easier.
Claire, you are like the eternal student, what interesting subjects. That leads us perfectly into the present day and your career in general. Can you tell us about your career journey so far. Who you have worked for, and explain any highlights.
My first job was at the university, where just before I graduated, I went to see the new Marketing Director, who was also a Bondy, and pitched why I would be an asset to the marketing team she was building. I started as the marketing coordinator and then was promoted to International Marketing Manager within 2 years. A year in that role, and I wanted to move to Brisbane to be closer to my boyfriend, so started working as the Marketing Manager with a property consultancy, during which time I did my project management masers and advanced diploma in visual communications. I read a book by Dan Pink called A Whole New Mind at that time, and decided I wanted to focus on the more creative and innovative sides of marketing, because then I could never be replaced by a computer! I started a blog, and saw The Urban List had come onto the scene, so I approached the founder when it was just a few months old, and pitched to her why I needed to be on her team. I was then hired as the digital marketing manager and then digital marketing director, launching them across three major cities. I have never worked so hard or learned so much, and it paved the way for me to start my own business. Originally, I freelanced as I was a bit burned out and just wanted to be responsible for myself, but quickly realised I needed to build a company if I wanted to scale, so we rebranded as Deane & Co mid last year, and it’s been 3 years that we’ve been working with large and small businesses like Tourism and Events Qld, ClassPass, Born Again Body, YWCA, YCL Jewels and a bunch more.
How did you get into the job that you are in now?
I created it! All the work of the last 13 years of work have resulted in me creating Deane & Co, a marketing and PR agency that works with small-med businesses in the lifestyle space. It was born out of wanting to work more closely with the businesses I was writing about at The Urban List, and now I have two team members and a suite of freelancers we work with on health, beauty, fashion, and hotel related clients.
What is the hardest part of life at Deane & Co?
Being ‘The Boss’. I’m not a natural manager, and I have to work at it. I would rather be working with clients or doing business development, rather than the admin side of owning a business, but I have a great team of advisors including accountants, financial planners, and lawyers that help me if things get hard. I also have a great network of other female business owners and a mentor that help me work through my management strategies.
What does a day in the life of Claire Deane look like?
Usually, it’s a combination of strategy creation, business development and a whole lot of meetings with clients. At the moment, I am writing a bunch of marketing strategies for a range of clients like an organic beauty brand, a meal delivery service, and natural spa company, so I try to keep Mondays, Thursdays and Fridays free to work on those high-level tasks, and meetings and time with my team are on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. I’m an introvert, so keeping all of my contact time to those two days not only means I can get more work done, but also that I don’t burn out with people time all the time!
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
I didn’t really have any growing up, but these days I’m super inspired by self-made women like the founder of Glossier, Lorraine Murphy of The Remarkables Group, who is my mentor, Julie Stevanja of Stylerunner who is also a mentor, even people like the founder of Verve Clicquot, who was a real trailblazer in an industry dominated by men. Check out the book The Widow Clicquot if you are looking for inspiration!
What awesome tips, we love Lorraine Murphy as well, she is such an inspiration. To finish can you tell us what advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
Start before you are ready, and build a network around you of women who also own their own businesses. They’ll be your greatest supporters and sources of inspiration!
Check out Claires Inspiration Hit List:
- Website Blogs or Websites: Of A Kind, Content Beauty, the Cap Beauty email newsletter, The Coveteur (obsessed) – so many!
- Name an Instagram Account or Snapchat that you can’t go a day without checking: Yikes, I follow a thousand people on Instagram, so that’s hard. I love @wolfgang2242, which is a guy who has rescued a whole bunch of older dogs, and he inspires the heck out of me, and for more business related content I like the @nytimes, @glossier and @everlane because their marketing is amazing.
- Books: Also a tricky one because I read so much. I loved The Four Hour Work Week, The 100 Startup and some of those obvious ones, and I also really liked The Power of Habit.
- People: Emily Weiss the founder of Glossier is seriously inspirational – I read everything she writes, and listen to all of her podcasts. Also check out Phoebe Lovatt of The Working Women’s group. She is super cool.
- Others: I listen to so many podcasts. I love Girlboss Radio, Millions, Of A Kind, Paul Jarvis’ Sunday Dispatches – I could go on and on.