Dino Myers-Lamptey has launched a strategy agency and consultancy, The Barber Shop, which has media and creative strategic thinking at its core.
Myers-Lamptey, a former managing director of MullenLowe Mediahub, set up his business during the summer but has only used an acronym, TBS, until now as he prepared for a formal launch.
He describes The Barber Shop as "a strategy-led media, creative and tech company" that will look to "solve its clients’ biggest business problems through new models of creativity and collaboration".
Myers-Lamptey said: "The Barber Shop is designed to be a welcoming place of tailored creativity, community and craft – the sort of place that you only go back to if you like what you’ve received."
He is recruiting talent and hopes The Barber Shop will have a team of five by the end of the year, but declined to name any individuals.
The Barber Shop wants to build a wider "network" of up to 150 people who will be made up of a broad spectrum of talent – "from side hustlers to sole practitioners and those who have left the industry to pursue other passions though still maintain their interest", as Myers-Lamptey put it.
The company is "particularly geared towards businesses which are driven by a purpose and which strive to enrich culture via the pleasure that they bring".
The Barber Shop has already been working with several clients, including sports news subscription website The Athletic, soft-drinks brand Karma Cola and sustainable-fashion company TOBEFRANK.
Talent 'is feeling unfulfilled'
Myers-Lamptey, who is 39 and previously worked at the7stars and Rocket, believes there is a gap in the market.
"The industry itself is being disrupted and agencies are struggling to deal with a more transparent world – one where much more can be delivered directly to clients," he said.
"Added to this is the fact that talent – the industry’s greatest asset – is feeling unfulfilled by the buying-driven models of the big groups."
He suggests that "an agile and collaborative approach", combined with "a deep understanding of the craft", can reap "bigger rewards and satisfaction all round".
The Barber Shop has already collaborated with a number of independent agencies, ranging from creative to performance marketing shops, including Wonderhood Studios, Croud, Mellor & Smith and The Rapids.
Myers-Lamptey said he chose the name The Barber Shop for several reasons.
"Shops are thriving community hubs that mean a lot of different things to different people – conversation, debate, time out," he said.
"They bring together experts with different talents and approaches, and each practitioner takes a high pride in their own client base and their creations.
"A barber shop was the first business I ever started and last year barber shops were the among fastest-growing shops in the UK."
Breaking down silos
Myers-Lamptey went on: "We wanted to create a place that broke down silos, cut out unnecessary process and championed ethical business models; a place where you could work with senior strategic minds that not only think but do; a place that attracts and connects the sorts of brands and businesses you’d genuinely hear people talking about at the barber shop."
While media is "at the core" of the proposition, Myers-Lamptey said the team will have backgrounds that span creative, client side, media owner and brand partnerships.
The Barber Shop will be able to offer "full solutions" by working with "trusted experts", Myers-Lamptey explained, adding it will also provide support services such as in-housing for clients and media integration for creative and PR agencies.
Accessing a wider network of talent should help because "we love the idea of 24-hour problem-solving and global insights being unearthed at radical speed", according to Myers-Lamptey, who suggested there is untapped potential beyond agencies.
"There are a lot of talented strategists who leave the industry as it fails to offer the flexibility and work satisfaction they desire," he said.
"This talent drain can be utilised and connected with technology to form a virtual TBS-networked brain. It also provides a scaling-up resource for the more consultative parts of our proposition."
Asked about his ambitions, Myers-Lamptey said: "We intend to grow into something big enough to handle the biggest clients who look to transform the way they operate, but small enough to still celebrate everyone’s birthday.
"Our model demands a flexibility in size, but we value having a core and permanent base which will grow and expand across time zones."
The Barber Shop is one of a wave of media-focused agencies to debut in the UK in recent weeks, following the launch of Walk-In Media and The Press Business, which have also talked about providing an alternative to the big holding groups.