In Conversation with Sophy Vanner Critoph

Tell us about what you do?

I’m Head of Strategy at Amplify – a creative agency that specialises in youth culture and brand experiences.

How did you end up doing that?

I started out freelancing in social media up in Manchester while I was studying, and eventually got introduced to the world of brands and agencies. After adding a social media offering to a lovely PR agency up there, I moved back down south and worked at various agencies in social strategy, and then comms and culture strategy. I’ve been at Amplify for the last 2 years, and can’t imagine ever being anywhere else

What are your daily work habits? 

Usually I’m a stickler for routine – emails before the day starts, and exercise to end the day. Since lockdown, I’ve been more flexible and easy on myself, but I do have to fit in a workout and a walk or cycle at some point, otherwise I’m not productive or happy. I also like to make sure I have at least 3 calls scheduled, otherwise I feel disconnected, but I find too many calls exhausting.

Has the current situation had an effect on your productivity/creativity?

I’m an extrovert and usually work in a super collaborative way, so I hated the first 6 weeks. That being said, as an agency, we have definitely done some of our best ever work during this period. It sounds pretty basic, but just having collaborative software to use has made all the difference. No-one feels left out, and everyone can see the ideas grow.

There’s a lot to be said for being able to lean on and feel supported by your peers – having daily hangouts, emails and messages has kept me going. Personally, I think ditching the commute and having a reduced social calendar has definitely had a positive impact on the quality of my work so far, but I can feel the inspiration dwindling now – I’m ready for at least part time IRL working.

What’s inspired you whilst social distancing?

I’d love to say it’s been all the webinars, podcasts, films and books I’ve invested so much time into, but sadly I don’t think that’s true. They’ve been brilliant and necessary distractions, but I think seeing how people have pulled together to get through this has been most inspiring. I love how I’ve got to know my neighbours, I feel more connected with my friends and family because we’ve had time for each other, and I love tuning into live music like and listening to music collectively from afar. Being with people without distraction has been amazing.

What has the current situation made you appreciate?

Where I live. I’m so lucky to live in Stoke Newington next to a massive park, surrounded by amazing independent businesses, and really close to loads of friends.

Why do you do what you do in the first place?

I just love making things that make people feel something. There’s nothing more gratifying than a live experience; whether you’re at a rave, a football match, a festival or the theatre – experiencing something collectively is so powerful.

What’s the best job decision you ever made?

There have been a couple of biggies. Ditching retail management to go to uni, even though it was a late decision, was the biggest move made. And most recently, swapping from Mary Portas’ agency to Amplify. Some things are not what they seem, and some things are even better than you could have imagined – I’d rather risk than regret.

What would your dream project or collab be?

I am desperate to do something in education – raising aspirations for those less privileged. It drives me mad that there are so many talented kids out there that just don’t even get a chance.

Where are you most happy?

Dancing with my friends – doesn’t matter if it’s in a grotty kitchen or Ibiza, it’s the same happiness.

What’s something you’re really into right now?

Learning about documentary-making. I love making things for people by getting to know what they love, but I’d love to switch the angle and make something about people.

What’s the last picture you took on your phone?

The sunshine from my front door – my doormat is a serious sun zone from 12-7pm.

Who would you most like to share a meal with?

Louis Theroux.