CREATIVE PARTNERS: Charlene Schmitt

Creative Partners is our ongoing interview series where we talk to clients, past and present, about their views on the value of professional partnerships, creative growth, and developing a lasting relationship between a client and vendor that evolves with a brand. 

Today, we had the chance to talk with one of our favorite partners on the East Coast, Charlene Schmitt of Luxury Brand Partners (LBP). Our team has worked with the hair product company R+Co (owned by LBP) since before the brand officially launched over ten years ago. Charlene has served as an executive producer on many of the projects we have produced, ranging from brand films to educational videos.

This interview has been edited for brevity and clarity.

Carlos Foster (Co-founder, Creative Manager): Hey Charlene! Thanks for joining me. Please tell us what you do at Luxury Brand Partners (LBP) and, by extension, R+Co.

Charlene Schmitt (Vice President of Marketing, Luxury Brand Partners): I currently serve as the head of marketing for R+Co, which is a luxury haircare brand. In this role, I oversee the marketing for all three of our lines. So that’s R+Co, R+Co BLEU, as well as R+Color. And that encompasses everything from asset creation to developing 360 launch campaigns to working with our different sales channels on their marketing strategies and assets.

CF: At the most basic level, how are video and photography important to the brands you oversee?

CS: I really think that video and photography are essential to our business because beauty is so much about an aesthetic experience that we share with our key audiences.

But more importantly, our ultimate goal is for our consumers and stylists to achieve their own beauty and experimentation goals. And the only way I think we can really do this is to visually take them through the process in order to learn. And that’s where video and photography really come into play. So I think it’s super important for our consumers to see.

CF: In what ways does your partnership with Blue Barn support your own creative and professional responsibilities and goals?

CS: You guys really help to bring our brand’s vision to life in the way of storytelling and education—through photography and video. You’re so aligned with our co-founders, both Howard McLaren as well as Garren, and their vision. On top of that, you bring a level of professionalism and polish to all the projects you work on. And this allows us to put our best foot forward.

So for me personally, once I started working with you guys, I had such a high level of trust for you to work from the concept line to the finish line. Basically, I feel like you guys are an extension of our team.

There’s just a lot of trust there. That’s what I would say.

CF: LBP has an in-house media team that touches all of your brands, and I know that besides Blue Barn, you also hire other outside vendors. So, where do outside vendors fit in? And why use them?

CS: We do have an in-house team, but we are very lean because we are such an entrepreneurial company. Working with you guys is important for us because you have a certain level of expertise that we really rely on in order to get the job done efficiently.

And I really look at you guys as an extension of our in-house team, to be honest. We work so seamlessly together and I think that’s important for us, because we can depend on you guys to work as that extension, since we are so lean internally.

CF: Is it valuable to have an outsider’s perspective as well? I know we work closely, but we’re not working together daily like an in-house team would. How does that affect the creative partnership?

CS: I think it’s beneficial that you (Blue Barn) do work with a variety of clients, that you work on photo and video in a variety of ways, and that you bring that collected expertise to our projects. The different clients that you work with, the different backgrounds, it helps lend to the vision of our co-founders and really problem solves for the goals that we’re trying to achieve.

So I think that’s a unique aspect of working with you guys versus staying in-house, even if we did have a more robust team.

CF: What should other companies consider when they’re looking for a production partner? What are the standout or must-have qualities for this type of long-term partnership to work?

CS: You have to be super aligned with anyone that you’re working with outside of your company. Aligned across the board. I truly feel that we are with Blue Barn from a work ethic perspective, from a problem solving approach, and creative point of view. And then I think the biggest thing is trust. I’ve mentioned trust a few times, but we really trust that you understand our brand’s vision and can bring it to life.

CF: What about like the most basic thing: just getting the job done? We’re talking about cultivating a year’s-long partnership. Why wouldn’t you just hire new people every time you have a project come up?

CS: Oh, it’s definitely because we can trust that you guys can get the job done. We know that you work really well with our co-founders. That you can bring their vision to life.

I’ve been in the industry now for quite some time and I’ve worked with many vendors. And I do think that you guys are particularly invested in us and that’s why I view Blue Barn almost as an extension of our in-house team because you really are so dedicated and work hard to really try and promote our brand and products. You are exceptional partners and work closely with us to get the job done, no matter what complications or issues may arise. And they definitely do arise, as we both know!

CF: So what would you say to someone in the same position as you, in a company of similar size, that has an in-house team but is considering using outside vendors to bolster their output, or simply offer expanded support? What could be the advantage of bringing in an outside vendor?

CS: The advantage is really bringing in different experience and expertise. We are constantly evolving and having to change things up and it can get stale if we’re not bringing in an outside perspective. Another thing is we often think is, “oh, we can handle everything”, and we end up spending less time on a project because you get spread so thin.

Things do suffer that way. And you don’t always put out the best product or the best final project. So I think by getting an outside vendor to help, you’re really allowing your teams to focus more on what they should be doing. And overall it honestly helps lead to better success across the board.

CF: It’s funny that you and I are now both at an age and a point in our careers where we can say, “I’ve been in this industry long enough…”

CS: Oh my God, I know. It’s so weird, to be honest.

CF: But I wanted to ask your personal opinion. Why is the hair industry special or different from marketing in other industries? What is different or unique about it?

CS: I think that there are a lot of really unique personalities and perspectives. Things are constantly changing, and that brings a certain fast-paced, variegated nature to the role. It’s exciting, but it’s a lot of work to stay relevant.

CF: We always get excited when your team reaches out for another project because no matter how many times we shoot a PK or self-style video, there’s some new spin on it that we have to figure out. It’s not like we’re in a factory cranking these out.

CS: Everything is changing, whether it’s the way the consumer consumes or new innovation that’s out, whether it’s the newest technology, the latest product, or what’s new in the digital space. Anything and everything is ever-changing, and different aspects are constantly shifting. So we always have new challenges.

Ultimately, it’s exciting. And for anyone working in this space, I think it’s a good challenge.

CF: And, of course, you need good partners, right? To meet those challenges?

CS: Yes! And it’s definitely you guys, for sure.

Making Video That Matters

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This paves the way for honest advertising, enhances your reputation, and saves you time and money in huge ways. If you are looking for help on your next video project, don’t hesitate to contact us for a free consultation



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Carlos Foster

Carlos Foster

Carlos is the co-founder and creative manager at Blue Barn Creative.

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