Real Hot Bitch Angela Meyer-Blacksmith enjoys dancing in a lycra clad comedy dance troupe in her spare time. Anna Dean made a reputation for herself as the Party Queen in the film and media industry. Together, they make up Double Denim.
Located up a set of tight stairs next to an Pole Dancing studio, Double Denim, Anna and Angela's creative agency, sprung up like a daisy through the cracks of the pavement, on the city's Cuba Mall of Wellington. These two make an unlikely team. One is like the cool mum friend you always wanted to be when you grew up (Ange). The other is the slightly moody but effortlessly hip school friend with a sharp tongue and endless street cred (Anna). They are united in their love of women and their passion for anything creative. These two clearly adore their jobs and encourage other's to 'do what you love'. Following an unconventional path led both Anna and Angela to meet while working at City Gallery Wellington. Over the years they've spread their wings, and their old school party aesthetic, throughout Wellington and beyond.
In a nutshell...
WHAT IS DOUBLE DENIM? Creative Wellington Agency. Think 'Single White Female' meets 'The Mighty Boosh', if it had a cosmic love child with the band Van Halen.
WHY SHOULD I CARE? AREN'T THEY JUST ANOTHER AGENCY? Not exactly. Both Anna and Angela skipped the traditional advertising agency route, heading on the own rambling journeys, Angela via Japan and London, a boat lost at sea and then the Wellington City Council marketing team. Anna has done PR for all Wellington's film that matter, from 'What We Do In The Shadows' to 'Hunt for the Wilderpeople'. Recently the pair worked on Justin Lester's campaign (He's now Mayor. Go figure). They also did Flick Electric's awesome campaign.
ARE THEY HUGE? No, these chicks are small but (to reference their favourite former bar) mighty. There are only 11% of women running a creative agency world-wide, says Angela Meyer. She calls it: "Hard-core feminism in a stealth way". They also want to pick and choose who they work with brand-wise: "We wouldn't work for Coca-Cola". These women are smart about how they spread themselves, hiring in experts as they need them to run an agile business model.
WHAT WOULD I KNOW THEM FOR OUTSIDE OF WORK? Anna's tendency to be in three places at once around Wellington. Angela's capacity to surround herself with women wearing unitards.
WHAT DO THEY LIKE? Wellington, anything 1980's, snappy campaigns. Velvet. Anna's strength is creating a visual spectacle: "The Vibe" she says deadpan. Angela likes the strategy and marketing side.
HOW DID THEY GET HERE? Both took the road less travelled. Anna is from Nelson. She grew up with her parent's decorative Tibetian monks adorning the family home. As a teen, she loved retro 80's kitsch because of Laura Ashley. "I used to spend a LOT of time on my own as a girl going to wallpaper shops looking for samples. I was a child of the 80's" she says of her floral rebellion.
Anna's desire to get out of small town New Zealand led to study Law and English at Otago. After her first year, thinking she was going to fail law school, she applied for New Zealand Journalism school. She ended up acing law but went with journalism instead anyway. She qualified and started working in a job she hated as a TV journalist. "I had a relationship with my cameraman which was a bad idea" she laughs.
After feeling it was too insubstantial, Anna switched again, starting working at Creative New Zealand in Wellington in a communications capacity. Anna says PR felt natural to her. She'd already been asked to promote a large-scale dance work in Dunedin. After one year, she moved to Littleton where she worked on her own projects. She followed this by going to Berlin for "my party apprenticeship".
Anna returned from Berlin to a job at the Film Archives. She soon found extra work promoting former Cuba Street bar and gig venue Mighty Mighty alongside branded events like Tiger Beer's 'Tiger Translate'. After winning contracts for publicising the movie 'Two Little Boys' and opening The Roxy Cinema in Miramar, Anna quit her job to go full-time freelance. She did that for five years, also starting an internet Women's network called 'The Ace Lady Network' (now moving into the real world since the opening of Double Denim). "Angela and I love putting people's creative talents on show," Anna says. Anna suggests working out what you do want to do by working out what you don't want to do first - small steps lead to big changes.
Angela Meyer's creativity has been all over. "I really like making stuff for people," she says, reflecting on her career. Angela grew up in Palmerston North before studying at Victoria and then moving to Japan to teach English as a young woman. "It was very hard - nothing like the brochure made it out to be. After a rough time (which ended up with Angela in the hospital with no recollection about how she got there) she decided to hitchhike around South East Asia, ending up in Europe to study in London. She stayed there from 1996 to 2006. During this time, Angela immersed herself in the visual arts scene in London. Organising pop-ups led to her falling into PR.
After returning to New Zealand when her father got sick, Angela fell into producing the Young and Hungry theatre festival. Angela tried many ventures, culminating in her and her husband with their young child attempting to sail the Pacific Ocean (she later wrote a book about the experience). She then worked at Wellington City Gallery, where she met Anna, and then Wellington City Council. In 2015, they decided to go all in together.
WEAKNESSES? Working too hard. Both confess to being workaholics. 'What We Do In The Shadows', Anna's best work to date, burnt her out. She worked on it herself almost entirely. "There is a tendency for women to say 'Yes, yes, yes' to everything," Angela says. "Last year I realised I needed to change things. That's when I quit my job and started my own business. It felt right."
WHY WELLINGTON? "We like the size, proximity to the water and that you can get around a lot. People here seem to give a shit about the world and politics, maybe because Government is here. People get stuff done, muck in and make things happen."
HOT TIP? "Be Nice. Be yourself" they say. Also - there's always an excuse to wear denim on denim.