Arts & Culture Business Fashion TV & Film Visual Arts

Agent and Producer Malin Stenborg is a Unique Talent

We would like to tell you about one of the most uniquely talented agency pros we’ve ever met, and by the end of the article, you’ll understand just how difficult it is to make a name for yourself in some of the most competitive industries around. 

Malin Stenborg is an agent and producer who has worked in the fashion, beauty, and advertising industries for more than twenty-five years. 

If you’re wondering what agents and producers actually do in fashion and advertising, well, we’re about to cover that in detail, but to give a general idea, they make things happen: forming connections, making calls, and overall sorting out some of the most crucial decisions that go into photoshoots, film shoots, and campaigns. 

In Stenborg’s case, this work is executed for enormously influential brands like Louis Vuitton, Burberry, Nike, H&M, Vogue, Starbucks, Revlon, Amazon, and so many more. 

But beyond the end product of all this hard work, we wanted to know more about the work itself and how it typically plays out. That’s why we asked Stenborg to walk us through an average workday, from start to finish, with the caveat that ‘average workday’ for someone at Stenborg’s level can be extremely extraordinary. 

A day in the life 

There’s a great deal of variation to this unique line of work, and Stenborg stays involved and invested in numerous projects at a time. 

Still, it’s worth taking a look at Stenborg’s routine to better understand just how fast-paced and diverse each day can be. 

Stenborg starts her day looking through emails on her phone while still in bed, mainly to see whether there are any urgent messages that require immediate attention. 

Next, Stenborg starts the process of following up with all of the jobs she currently has in the works. 

“It could be making sure that our talents have what they need for a complicated shoot, ie. crew, gear, logistical needs, etc. to ensure the creative vision they are hired to achieve is set up for success. And of course, I check in with the client to make sure they are getting what they want and that things are coming together smoothly.”  

From there, it’s time to actively manage projects and communicate with various clients, including conversations about potentially working on additional projects together in the future. An important part of these conversations is suggesting visions for these future projects and the talent that might make for a good fit. 

“I love communicating with a range of clients, from advertising agencies to production companies and brands, learning about their needs and how I can support them!” 

Next up, she manages branding and marketing for her own business by checking up on the artists’ portfolios and handling commercials and social media strategies.

“This is super important, and I spend a lot of time working on aesthetics and brand image, because this is the first thing a new client will see, and first impressions are everything!” 

But all of this is just the basic structure of Stenborg’s workday, the starter pack, if you will. As she pointed out, there’s always a likely chance that random odds and ends will come up throughout the course of any given day, either from talent, colleagues, clients, or all of the above. 

“I often feel like I’m going in every direction at once and getting sidetracked, but it’s always incredibly productive and exciting. I normally work late but try to shut down my computer by 9 PM unless there’s a big production going on.” 

So there you have it: just a small taste of Stenborg’s day-to-day work. Stress and intense multitasking are par for the course, but Stenborg has managed not only to adapt to these demands but thrive in them as well, and according to Stenborg herself, a significant portion of her motivation is based in a longtime appreciation for beautiful images. 

Appreciating images 

“I’ve always loved beautiful images, for as long as I can remember.”

Stenborg feels this deep connection to images is rooted in older ways of looking at and absorbing images. 

More specifically, when Stenborg began her career, many of the digital processes we now rely on simply didn’t exist. Film photography was the norm, and as many of the old-school photographers out there remember, developing and printing photos was a much longer process, often taking days to complete. 

Stenborg notes that the pacing of this process meant that she spent quite a lot of time looking at and analyzing the images being created, which led to a different understanding of these images. 

This contrasts the current relationship with images many of us now have because of the speed facilitated by digital technologies. Unless we have a reason to spend a substantial amount of time with a single image, it’s much more likely that we will simply observe an image for a fraction of a second and move on to the next one.  

Stenborg maintains that thoughtful image viewing contributed to her current appreciation for images which has earned her a stellar reputation in multiple industries. 

“I learned what I thought was beautiful and could recognize it quickly. And yes, beyond the images themselves, I of course naturally have always been drawn to the creators of those images. I was always intrigued by the hows, whys, and whats of the creatives who produce beautiful imagery and storytelling.” 

This skill set has only become more valuable over the past two decades, during which time visual literacy and communication have become dominant forces in communication, online social spaces, and advertising. 

Of course, while visuals are at the core of image creation for branding and advertising, a producer needs to have many other skills to manage complex projects that require the talents of creatives and business professionals. 

The balancing act 

“You need a multitude of skills, both practical and interpersonal, to master this career. I’ve worked with all types of clients and talent. I’ve represented and produced for everyone from fashion photographers to stylists to illustrators, and I was also one of the first in the world to represent creative directors, a role that is now common to most agencies.”

In addition to the variety of work and representation, Stenborg’s career has also included extensive travel to the UK, Germany, Scandinavia, France, major US cities like New York and Los Angeles, and even Hong Kong. 

This is really where interpersonal skills come into play, or at least one key area in which they’re absolutely critical. 

“You need to be social and approachable, yet have fierce negotiation skills and be able to think creatively on a whim. The human element, really understanding people, their motivations, and how to read them, is so very important to what we do. It’s a special quality that exists in only the very best of this profession. You have to earn your clients’ trust, and you only get one chance to make that happen!”  

Finding success at the highest level of these industries requires both skill sets: knowing how to execute ideas and being able to effectively communicate with anyone and everyone. 

Falling short in one of these areas could spell disaster for a campaign, and it could even mean being surpassed by other professionals ready to step up. 

In other words, it takes skill and dedication to stay on top, and other industry pros can easily tell when someone isn’t up to snuff. 

Taking creative risks 

As a way of closing out this brief look into a highly successful career in producing and talent management, we would like to highlight Stenborg’s willingness to take creative risks to satisfy clients and boost the careers of the talent she works with. 

“I love to develop talent, and when clients trust me, I like to encourage them to work with someone they may not have considered. When this results in a fantastic end product, they’re excited to come back to me for suggestions again and again.” 

Stenborg provided the perfect example of this technique in action: a campaign she worked on for Brioni, an internationally famous luxury menswear brand. 

“I had been in contact with the Creative Director for quite some time and convinced her that the brand needed to do more moving images/film. I then sent her some suggestions for cinematographers. Some of these cinematographers didn’t have a background in directing, but I knew they could do great work if given the chance.”

The easy route in a situation like this would be to recommend a tried-and-true director for the job. Not a bad option, but it also probably wouldn’t provide especially exciting results. Thankfully, Stenborg and her client were willing to try something different. 

“We chose a cinematographer who directed and shot his first campaign for Brioni with the actor Jude Law. It was a huge success! This campaign gave Brioni its greatest social media success to date. Brioni was so impressed that we’ve continued to work on projects together. In fact, we have another in the pipeline right now.” 

This approach is all about going above and beyond, not settling for ‘good enough,’ and it results in win-win scenarios for everyone involved. 

The cinematographer in question got the opportunity to advance their career by bringing a fresh new perspective to the table. Brioni got a campaign that exceeded expectations. And Stenborg herself proved yet again that her skills, developed over many years of experience, place her at the very top of her field.

About the author

Mike Thompson

Add Comment

Click here to post a comment