Michelle: The Globetrotter

Where all has work/life taken you? What brought you to Boston?

I have lived in 5 cities and 4 countries. I’m both a Euro and US citizen. Grew up in Boston. Moved to NYC for art school at SVA. Stayed. Traveled around the world on photoshoots, as a photo assistant and stylist, for top magazines and brands, like Vogue, Town + Country, Martha Stewart, Wallpaper and loads more. One shoot was a safari in Africa for Town + Country. Luxury in the bush and truly life changing. The experience turned me into a conservationist. I also printed black + white for Annie Leibovitz for a couple of years. That was cool.
I lived in Paris for a while during that time, with a boyfriend. I went to my first real runways while there at the Louvre during PFW. I snuck in because I had a camera. Stood front row at Escada. Great memory. It was around then I realized you can get in anywhere as long as your confident and look like you belong.  I then lived in London for 2 years, which is when I got into digital. I owned a web 1.0 company in Bermondsey (by London Bridge) with a (different) boyfriend. He was Italian and we lived with a bunch of Italians in Hackney.
After we broke up I moved to Florence, Italy for a while to improve my Italian. I was a Euro citizen by then and could basically live and work anywhere in the EU. I moved back to Boston because my precious nephew Daniel Joseph McCormack Jr was born. I worked at Hill Holliday as a digital producer for a while and then decided to start LoveTheCool, my own digital consultancy. I work in NYC, Miami and LA  a lot. Soon after I started Secret Boston as a side project which has taken off.

What attracted you to digital brand consulting? What/who inspires your work?

I’m a photographer, graphic designer and a creative director, in general. I knew these rolls were becoming obsolete offline. I had to learn how to interpret these disciplines in zeros and ones. So I learned HMTL and Web Designer and Flash Designer.  After a while, I realized I didn’t want all my time to be spent behind a computer screen, so I started producing huge campaigns for global brands (at Hill Holliday).
At LoveTheCool I’ve done the same, as a producer and consultant. What differentiates me is my experience. I understand both the offline and online process of building a great digital campaign. I can direct or execute.  And I can easily communicate with everyone involved with the process: programmers, developers, art directors, printers, etc which saves time and money and leads to real results. I’ve had loads of roll models. In the past it was Annie Leibovitz, Anna Wintour, Spike Jonze. These days its people like Ryan Hoover (the guy who founded Product Hunt) and the Podcaster Marc Maron.

You have an event surfacing app launching this month! What’s HUNT all about? How/why did you develop it?

Hunt is about surfacing the coolest events in Boston, daily. And when I say cool, I mean cool. I am committed to reducing noise and surfacing only events / things my Secret Boston community would dig.  The site/app will be a pristinely clean UX with no noise. Events are listed by date, starting today and going down to the future. All past events are hidden. The event will have a name and 160 character description. That’s it (no photos). And everyone in the world will have the ability to upvote the event, but only a handful can post events.
So today, if there are 5 events, the most popular (uprooted) will be on top. Scroll down and the next would be tomorrow (below today) and so forth.  At launch only a handful of the ‘coolest’ promoters and venues will have the ability to post events. And they will be given 3 invites each to invite other people to post events. We are relying on them to crowdsource promoters because we trust them. We are also giving a limited amount of people the ability to comment on each individual event, which can act as a sort of AMA with the promoter.
Finally, on the top of the page you can sign up to have the coolest events emailed to you, daily. We did a focus group last week at General Assembly to some of the Secret Boston community and it was 99% positive.  This is amazing because SB can be harsh and doesn’t mind telling me the truth. So, we’re launching in Alpha this month to test and break. Learn. Over the next 3-4 months we will be building out the actual app with a prestigious app developer. Should launch beta September and full launch Jan 2016.

How did producing ad campaigns prepare you for producing Fashion’s Night Out in 2012?

Every digital action I took closed a loop. I prioritized conversion, no matter what it was. Nothing just hung there as dead content. It was either: grab an email address, share a post, retweet, go to the website, something.  I also know exactly what channels needed to be optimized to get the word out and sharable. And I know how to communicate on social media strategically – so that I quickly got on the radar of the right people. For example, within a week of starting the FNO Facebook page, Rue La La called me and asked to be the main FNO Boston sponsor. I was also very comfortable communicating with Vogue in NYC regularly and updating them on our progress. This got us a lot of national coverage because Vogue would include us in all their press releases.

Tell us a little about Secret Boston. How do you want the group to impact the greater Boston community?

I started Secret Boston as a Facebook brand page a few years ago as a way to test Facebook marketing strategies for my clients. I didn’t want to skew results, so I never advertised.  Because of that, all of a sudden I had this amazing organically grown, hyper-local page of young Bostonians. Since then I’ve started an Instagram, SnapChat and a private FB group (which grows at about 1,000 per week). I’ve also been throwing loads of offline events lately, so it’s become real community. Over 90.000 so far. Secret Boston has such a powerful reach that it was one of the first places Uber used to launch their car service in Boston in 2012.  I guess I want Secret Boston and Secret Boston HUNT to impact Boston by spreading content that is exclusively, unapologetically cool.
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