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ABOUT YOU

ABOUT YOU // brand manager Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont talks university, growing up & how to find happiness in your career

Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke

Photographs copyright Elena Zaucke

May 20th, 2019

Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke

London, October 2011. The auburn leaves lay heavy on the street, effortlessly kissing the pavement as I embarked the westbound bus from Notting Hill Gate. Despite the very obvious, nonetheless beautiful reminder that summer was officially over, a somewhat unnerving feeling settled in my stomach. Today my very talented friend Sofia and I (Francesca) would take our first steps towards becoming the women we are today. On the verge of adulthood and with a newfound sensation of big city life, Sofia and I were just moments away from attending our first day at the University of the Arts in London.

We were almost instantly put into groups (luckily Sofia and I got to stay together for this project) and given our very first official brief: execute a fashion editorial for the print publication of your choice. With our allotted theme – foreign intrigue – in mind, we agreed to meet at Selfridges the next morning to rummage all and any print publications in store. Thanks to its unique layout, typography and size we decided to create a fashion editorial for the bi-annual fashion and lifestyle publication Vs. Magazine. From there on out weeks of hustling and problem solving went by, none of which was spent on university grounds, as we attempted to create a luxury spread with zero budget. We worked mostly on favors, or in Sofia and my case, costly Net-A-Porter orders that we would return at a later point, to assemble location, crew, talent and, most importantly, fashion items. When the big day finally came, we were a creative team of ten amidst a breathtakingly beautiful Holland Park apartment, ready to shoot our first ever editorial. It was a day of many firsts and lessons learned. The outcome? A ten-page spread – layout, typography and print included – featuring models dipped in expensive lingerie and dazzling evening gowns.

Projects like this followed semester after semester, sometimes a specific outcome such as a short film or branding package was requested, other times it was left entirely up to us. “I think you go into studies because you want to learn the theory,” Sofia explains as we reminisce about our long-gone university days. We are both firm believers in the fact that creative talent isn’t something you can learn or acquire. “You either have it or you don’t,” Sofia exclaims. We both hoped the course would teach us the tools in order to guide our talent however we were left mostly with hypothetical briefings and situations. The fact that we worked solely with speculative brands, budgets and possibilities eventually robbed us of our creativity and left us feeling insecure at times. “In retrospect,” Sofia adds on, “I would have chosen to study business with emphasis on marketing, whilst acquiring experience in the fashion industry through internships.”

Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke
Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke
Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke

Hamburg, April 2019. Almost eight years later, the half German half Spanish born beauty has found her place in the fashion industry and landed a job tailored exactly to her unique skillset. “It wasn’t easy. I am the prime example of struggling with finding the right job,” Sofia confesses. After graduating from university, Sofia wanted to steer away from “the creative aspect and focus more on marketing.” She ended up at a brand consulting agency where she advised clients including Net-A-Porter and The Outnet. “It was a lot of reporting and writing,” Sofia tells us. She realized very quickly that writing sixty-page reports in a two-day timeframe was not something she wanted to pursue in the long run. To know this is one thing, to take action and expose yourself to new opportunities and the possibility of being rejected, another.

“I was super insecure after university and thought I didn’t have talent at all,” Sofia explains. Today she understands that her insecurities and doubts were mostly self-inflicted.”

Sofia was considering a large variety of jobs, repeatedly doubting her options and questioning whether she was making the right life decision. Sofia stresses that the biggest advice she would tell her younger self, or any graduate for that matter, is to take time in finding the right job. “Don’t just take the first job that comes your way,” Sofia says, “if you are unsure with what path to take, dedicate your time to experiment and find out what you like and what you don’t. It’s not a linear path to the top.” Sofia recalls the first job interview she ever went to, she got turned down because she seemed nervous and thus insecure. “In hindsight, I understand that I should have interviewed the company as well. It’s an empowering thought to understand that they (the brand or company) need to sell themselves to you, just as much as you need to sell yourself to them.” It’s a two-way street.

Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke
Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke
Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke


After several months of ups and downs, Sofia intuitively started looking into advertising, marketing and branding positions. This ultimately lead her away from London and to Hamburg (Sofia’s current home) where she works as the brand manager at ABOUT YOU, one of Europe’s biggest e-commerce platforms. Together with her team Sofia manages the brand and advertising campaigns of the company. This includes digital videos, television commercials, billboard, events and more. “I don’t really have a day-to-day because all my jobs are project based,” Sofia explains, “but usually I start by establishing the purpose of the campaign and the strategy behind it. Together with my team, we sit down with the media team to establish the channels best suited for the campaign, before developing the concept for the individual media outputs. Then together with our producers we go into pre-production where we source the right talent, etc.” Since starting her job at ABOUT YOU, Sofia has become a lot more secure in her choices. She believes this has a lot to do with growing up and knowing your worth.

“Nowadays I don’t take criticism personal anymore. I know that I have opinions and I know how to argue my case.”

Creativity is a lot of dialogue and a lot of back and forth. At the end of a day Sofia knows that it is her job to sell clothing and that not just the creative aspect or a preferred aesthetic will play towards her decision-making process. “Oftentimes the decisions that I make are based on an economical and financial point of view,” she explains. When we ask her about her favorite project to date, she can’t help but smile because she asked her boss this exact question during her job interview. “I never thought I’d answer the same way but it’s true – I love them all for different reasons. Sometimes it’s the destination of the project, be it Bali or LA, and sometimes it’s the scope of work or the complexity of the project that makes it so special.”

On top of her beautiful mind, Sofia is one of those women who will always look great no matter what she wears, regardless if her hair has been freshly washed or not. Although both Sofia and I went through a phase of picking at our skin and wearing heavy layers of make-up, those gruelling university days of striving for perfection are far past us. Having entered the second half of our twenties we’ve grown to gravitate more towards the #nofilter movement. In her job, a space where Sofia is confronted only with beautiful things, she herself defines beauty by what’s underneath the surface. “I think that a lot of people are starting to get tired of ‘perfection’ per se. It is not something fulfilling or satisfying to strive for," Sofia explains. After almost a decade of working in the fashion industry, it’s refreshing to see that Sofia is still much the same, maybe even more centred than when I first met her. It’s the quality of family and friends that keep her grounded. “I really need the social aspect of people that care about me,” she explains. That and sports. Yoga when she has a quiet mind and running when she has a busy mind. After all these years of finding our voice and place in this world, there’s a lot to love about YOU, sweet Sofia.

Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke
Sofia Ochoa Neven Du Mont The Pollak Persuasion photograph copyright Elena Zaucke

Q&A

What time do you wake up?

8am

What’s the first thing you do when you wake up?

Boil water for tea

How do you mentally prepare for the day?

I like taking my time in the morning. I have a morning routine: boil water, take a shower and change. Next I make breakfast + tea, watch the Tagesshow from the night before. Then I do my breathing exercises for 15 minutes (5 seconds breathing in, 5 seconds out). Then I continue getting ready and go to work!

Favorite coffee-table book or magazine?

AD Magazine (monthly subscription)

Who is the last person that texted you?

My mom

What's the most attractive quality in someone?

Attentiveness

Are you an early bird or a night owl?

Night owl (it keeps changing with me though)

What are you most passionate about?

Many things, don’t have a most

Favorite food place in Hamburg?

Easy: Leche de Tigre

Favorite song to get ready to?

Let’s Go, Khalid

Something you can’t leave the house without?

Phone, wallet and keys

Best advice you’ve ever been given?

“Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space lies our freedom and our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our happiness.” – words by Viktor Frankl

Weekend getaway – what do you pack?

Sudoku

Where do you feel most inspired?

When travelling

What would you tell your younger self?

Know your self-worth

How would you describe your fashion style?

Effortlessly elegant

Favorite designer?

Cortana (Spanish brand)

Favorite work out?

Yoga

Guilty pleasure?

Germany’s Next Topmodel

Do you prefer to be in nature or in the city?

Nature

Something you recently discovered?

That kids develop accents before they can talk

Girls night out. What are your hair and make up vibes?

Natural everything + red lips

Something everyone should try at least once?

Sky diving

Where will you travel next?

Munich (for a wedding)

Do you like to sit window or aisle on the plane?

Window

Favorite place to {online} shop?

About You and also The Outnet

What item have you most recently splurged on?

Ganni Dress, Rixo Bikini, Re/Done Jeans, Alexa Chung Shirt, On the island by Mario Schwab swimsuit (I don’t go shopping lots but when I do, I get lots at once and then I stop again for a while)

What do you hold close in life?

Family and friends

Dream artist to collaborate / work with?

Hard one, not sure

What’s your most used emoji?

Heart

Favorite piece currently available on About You?

A two-piece assemble von POSTYR (totally underrated brand btw)

What’s on your bedside table?

Picture of my sister, book called ‘You Are Not Human’ by Simon Lancaster (highly recommend), Feu de Bois Candle, Aesop body oil - no guys, it is not for what you think!

What time do you go to bed?

Midnight 

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