‘How I Did It’ Episode 2: Christina Okorocha, Founder of Vamp

Published in
7 min readJan 2


In our second episode of our founder series How I Did It, we speak to Christina Okorocha, founder of digital talent agency Vamp. From budding influencers to big brand names, they know how to navigate relationships and get the best out of their clients. Christina tells us how Vamp’s got to this point and what she’s learnt along the way.

Tell us a bit about Vamp. What’s your plan for the next 3–4 years?

Vamp was founded in 2017 by three friends who went to university together. Everyone always talks about the name and how we came up with it — it was basically a lipstick colour! The purpose of Vamp is to represent the underrepresented and secure them commercial deals they usually wouldn’t have access to.

Over the years, we’ve also developed our TV & Film PR section where we work with the likes of Warner Bros, Disney, Netflix, Sky, Netflix and Amazon to help them engage a black audience and understand black culture.

We also work with a lot entertainment labels on maximising awareness of their new artists or helping them do events that relate to a new release or campaign. We do a lot around entertainment and publicity, but the main premise of the business is black culture.

In terms of the future, we’ve managed to build a viable brand and we just want to go bigger. There is a big gap in the UK between Black British culture and the funnelling of money into talent, and we want to fill that gap.

You’ve managed some of the most popular diverse influencers in the UK — the likes of Nella Rose, Victor Kunda, and others. How did you manage to achieve this?

Talent management is a difficult job. It’s not as easy as people think; it’s a thankless job, as many like to say. But life is all about experiences and pouring into others and have them pour into you, and building with them. That’s always been our motto when working with top talent and that’s one of the things that makes us different. We are not about ownership; we do not own the talent we manage. We nourish and nurture their talent and maximise their potential.

When we started in 2017, the space was still very new and we were one of the first looking for the best talent. We would do this by adding value, inviting talent to events we knew about, offering them opportunities and showing we were there. With regards to actually signing these influencers, I’d say it was slightly easier when we started because we were early, but it’s not as easy today.

For example, we signed Nella Rose straight out of university. We saw she had a really good following and committed audience and asked her when she graduated if she wanted to work with us. It was the same with Victor Kunda: we noticed him making strides on TikTok, so we approached him.

The Vamp team

What is some practical advice you can give for retaining clients and keeping them happy?

Signing talent is one thing, keeping them is another matter. Once you sign talent you need to have a plan for them. We put in place a strategy for all of our talent before signing them, so they know once they join there’s a clear plan to make them an success. These plans often range from six months to one year and ensure we get them as much visibility as possible, align them with the right brand, and build their personal brand as much as we can. We did it for Nella, for Victor, for Adeola [Patronne] and for Mariam [Musa].

Tell us more about these strategies. What have you done with talent over the years over the years to nourish them and keep them on your books?

From a strategy perspective, we always make sure that whatever strategy we come up with, it’s us working towards assisting the talent to become the person they want to be, not the person we want them to be. In that process, we guide them on exactly how they can become that person. For example, getting their mind focused is a big part of that. A lot of influencers want to be multiple personalities at one time, but it’s important to be known for one thing.

For example, if you want to be a ‘beauty babe’, then you need to ensure people are solely coming to you for beauty-related content — that way you are always front of mind when people are looking for looks. Whilst doing so, they might notice what you are drinking and wearing so you could influence them in other ways. However, you have your one core reason for why they come to you: beauty. It makes your life a lot easier doing it this way, trust me.

Which brings me to my next point: long term strategic planning. I’m a long-term strategic planner anyway, so I really enjoy helping talent win in this area. Whether it’s with other influencers, our clients, Vamp or my personal life, I’m always thinking this way. When influencers come to us, I get them to think about their career in the same way. I ask them, “where do you want to take this? Do you see yourself on TV, writing books, or doing something else?”, and once they tell us where they see themselves, we implement long-term goal-orientated strategic planning to get them there.

A lot of influencers want to be multiple personalities at one time, but it’s important to be known for one thing

Not only have you managed big names, but you’ve also worked with big corporates — most recently with Marvel Studios on the Black Panther premiere. How did you get global corporates to believe in the Vamp vision?

Everything has to do with confidence and believing you can deliver. I’ll be totally honest: when we first started Vamp, we weren’t too sure about what direction it was going to go in, but we knew we wanted to represent the underrepresented and that meant being the conduit between these large brands and diverse talent. So we built the relationships.

Believe it or not, but we initially did this through cold calling. For example, we cold-called Universal to work with them on Girls Trip. We did the same for Disney. When we got Black Panther, it was off the back of a cold call. Once we introduced ourselves and told them what we did, they invited us in; we pitched and ended up winning the contract.

With that being said, not only were we able to be confident enough to sell our services, but we also had the ability to deliver. That’s one thing I give to us: we have the operational experience to deliver. A lot of people can go into a room and convince people to give them work but not everyone is able to execute, and I must say that operationally we’ve been able to execute and deliver for our corporate clients every time.

How do you maintain a high level of customer service and value for your clients and keep them coming back to you?

It’s important to keep clients up-to-date on things. For a lot of agencies and businesses it can be hard to the brand updated, but a lot of our clients and community follow us on Instagram, and when they see us always working hard on projects, they want to work with us too.

Communication within the team is also key. Vamp has three teams: PR, Entertainment and Talent. Every Monday morning we have a meeting to discuss what we’re all working on and how we can all help each other — make client introductions to one another and so on — and so the client knows the internal intricacies of Vamp and how we’re always providing them with value.

What corporate experiences did you bring to Vamp and how did you learn the tricks of the trade of corporate partnerships?

During my university degree, I worked for one year at Canon and three months on branding at Google. At Google, everyone was nice, intellient, and friendly but the one thing that lacked was representation. There was no one there that was my colour. There needed to be a change and that’s something that stayed with me through to creating Vamp.

After my degree I went to work at an adtech company, which is where I learnt a lot about the client side. We used to pitch to media companies for budget to run ads, so I used to have to produce strategic decks. That taught me a lot about pitching, strategy, numbers, budgets, and so on. When it came to building Vamp, I already had the skills to be a good account manager, a good budget planner, and create spreadsheets. I learnt it all in those two years.

What have you had to learn on your feet at Vamp?

I’ve had many life lessons at Vamp! Number one: managing a team is not just about telling them what to do, but it’s about understanding that people are different. Everyone communicates and learns differently. Some poeple like to be led, some people like to be free, and you have to understand that. You’re not going to get the most out of people if you’re micro-managing them. That’s why I’m a very laissez-faire leader.

Second, it’s important to take a different approach to your business life than to your personal life. The way you look at your personal finances should be different to how you look at company finances. In your business, you check your balance every day and you cancel those unnecessary subscriptions! You might have a different work rate, or you might be introverted in your personal life but extraverted in your professional environment, because that’s what it takes to sell.

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