It all started when Nike hired Brill Brill Studio founder Jen Brill (say that 10 times fast) to help conceptualize content for an apparel launch in 2013. “From there, I was able to get to know the 360 nature of the brand, which grew our partnership to new levels,” she explained.
The iconic brand that has been making recent headlines for its 30th anniversary “Just Do It” campaign featuring Colin Kaepernick—the NFL quarterback and former San Francisco 49er who initiated the national anthem protests to call attention to police brutality—went on to hire Brill on several additional projects, including ideating and designing its 45 Grand St. studio and overseeing its Converse collaboration with British fashion label JW Anderson.
“With the Converse x JW Anderson campaign, we wanted to nail a perfect and artful middle ground for both brands,” Brill said. “You have the fashion darling paired with the most American, democratic shoe that nearly everyone owns. That juxtaposition was the most important factor.”
Brill is a former consultant, photographers agent and Chanel ambassador—making her a called-upon creative director for fashion brands like women’s apparel label Proenza Schouler, designer Adam Selman (she worked on his collaboration with eyewear brand Le Specs) and maker of leather luxury goods MCM.
She founded Brill Brill Studio, a creative shop, five years ago. Its distinct mark on advertising has been undeniably edgy, authentic and “punk rock,” as Brill described it, because “none of us have agency experience.”
“Our approach is quite custom,” Brill noted. Every brief begins with a deep dive of the client’s consumer and then “we just fuck it up. … My entire team is inspired in different ways; no two are alike. I hire purposefully in this way to keep our ideas fresh. Instead of considering who or what ‘fits in,’ I look for additions to our team for each project that both complement as well as challenge us.”
Although she “really loved” her previous role as an agent, “discovering young and emerging talent,” Brill said, “I left my job ultimately because I wasn’t fulfilled creatively. During my time off, new work began to present itself in the form of creative consultation. This was the driving force behind launching my full-service studio.”
“When I first began consulting, I took on jobs to get my foot in the door—not necessarily considering whether or not the timing or scope were right for me and my team,” Brill said.
“Selecting jobs that are right for you is important,” she explained. “Business is business, but if the pit of your stomach says that you will not be able to really ‘wow’ the client, do not take the job. Don’t be afraid of a challenge, but always aim to achieve success.”
How She Got the Gig
Being an agent to rising photographers and then a brand ambassador for Chanel gained Brill well-deserved recognition. When brands began approaching her as a consultant, she decided to make a living crafting innovative ideas for them through Brill Brill Studio.
“Don’t sign any contracts during Mercury retrograde,” Brill said.