Erin Wahed is part of the slash generation. She doesn’t define herself by one career title or skill, but by the unique combination she brings to the table. She’s a full time sales representative who sells talent (directors, editors, production designers, music composers, VFX talent…) to producers. But what she really does, in her words, is connect the right people to the right people. She thrives on making these connections, in her professional and personal life.
As a sales rep, she tells me, “you need to have something else.” It’s part of what helps you form solid relationships with producers and be great at your job. So on the side, Erin started Bande des Quatres with her mother. What exactly is it and how does it add to one diverse, fulfilling career? Read on to learn about Erin’s experiences and advice:
How did you find your grey?
I went to a very technologically advanced high school and when a teacher saw me learning Photoshop, she encouraged me to develop and explore my artistic voice by taking my own photographs. The seed was planted and I ended up studying photography at NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts. There, I learned to push the boundaries with my photography and develop an aesthetic that gave life to our boutique jewelry line, Bande des Quatres.
Bande des Quatres is a collaboration: designed by myself and hand-crafted by my mother. Working with my mother has truly been a gift. I’ve never had a knack for drawing. It’s always ideas for me. She can read my mind in the sense that I’ll point to something, and she’ll know exactly what I’m thinking and how to translate it. I think you have to have that family bond to be able to do that.
Bande des Quatres has always been creative outlet. While at Tisch, I quickly knew I didn’t have the “wake up and create” kind of energy needed to pursue photography as a career. However, I did love the critique element and the talent that surrounded me. This led me to my first job out of school as a photo producer at a fashion photography agency. I found it wasn’t creative enough for me and moved on to being a project manager for Pentagram, one of the biggest independent design firms in the world. I met incredibly talented designers and learned a lot, but once again found it wasn’t creative enough for me.
At that point, with Bande des Quatres and those two jobs, I had created a network of talented people, from photographers to designers to coders to stylists and more. People were constantly asking me to connect them to creative people for projects. I loved doing it, it felt creative to make the right match, and just felt natural.
A friend of mine connected me with the owner of RepresentationCo. This was when I found my grey. After the experiences of my two previous jobs, I realized the creativity I sought was not something I needed to physically make, but more of strategic creativity. At RepCo, I work as connector and link advertising agencies with talent for their broadcast, experiential or immersive needs. I love it because it is creative and I get to meet new people everyday to talk about the amazing talent we represent.
What motivates you to grow and do great work?
With BDQ, I am motivated by the amazing people who have connected with the brand and have become ambassadors for it. With RepCo, I am motivated by our talent and thrive on getting them awesome work.
How do you live in the grey? How does your work relate to other aspects of your life?
Bande des Quatres and RepCo definitely work hand in hand and keep me living in the grey. With RepCo, when meeting new people, BDQ often comes up. It’s always fun to have something in addition to our talent to discuss.
How has working at RepCo helped you live a fulfilled life?
I get to meet new people every day with both RepCo & BDQ. There is nothing more fun and fulfilling than that.
How did you become qualified enough to do what you love?
I learned a lot on the job when it comes to my specific industry. But connecting people is just something ingrained in me, I think. Probably came from being an only child and being force to make friends even when I was super shy.
What are three things you try to do everyday?
Brush my teeth, talk to my parents, and eat healthy
What’s something you wish you had known at the outset of your career?
Things take time. I’m a very impatient person, even to this day.
How have relationships played a role in your career and what advice do you have about building them?
Relationships are EVERYTHING. The key to building relationships, is making a great first impression and being different, being someone that the other person will remember.
What advice do you have for beginners in your industry specifically?
Cold emails sometimes work. It’s a numbers game. But if you can, take people to lunch. It works way better than cold emails. There is nothing better than face-to-face. Make an impression. Make people remember you.
Do you have a motto?
If you think it, you can do it.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever heard?
It is ok to say no.