It was during long haul flights on Qatar Airways that Harriet, in her cabin crew uniform, would pen pieces for a Doha magazine under the alias Hayat. Fast-forward a couple of years, she's running meetings, projects, and managing the next big things international brands are fronting. If you haven’t heard of Harriet Gyamfuah's name you definitely know the influencers her company manages, from Rita Dahdah to Abdulla Al-Abdulla.
If we were to talk about her infectious good vibes and attitude, which you can easily get a glimpse of on her Instagram, we wouldn’t do her any justice. Today we’re highlighting the Qatar-based momager's work ethic, her take on life, what she does in her free time, and what empowers her. From working part-time in a New Look store in the UK, being a publicist for Naomi Campbell’s charity line, to roaming the world as cabin crew, she finally dropped a pin in Qatar and started her own company, Creatives Amplified. Harriet Gyamfuah is a force to be reckoned with, and she uses her networking contacts, charm, and wit to build a bridge between businesses who want to get amplified, and influencers who want to work as amplifiers. Basically the collaborations that happen between brands and Instagram personalities are orchestrated and led by her.
Perhaps one thing the Arab world does not have a shortage of is powerful women. Powerful women conjuring tornados when they speak, that you don’t even seem to notice who they’re wearing. Women who value work ethic and their professional endeavors, as much as they value their own well-being and setting aside time for themselves. We had a chat with the British/Ghanaian industry specialist, and what echoed loud and clear is her driving ambition and lashing determination. But perhaps what mostly resonated with us was that her undeniable ache to learn – manifested through whipping up an article at 30,000+ feet up in the sky while working an air hostess shift – builds character, dreams, and eventually, quite the impressive career. Get to know the life Harriet leads and what makes her wake up every morning.
Tell us about your educational and professional background. What prompted the Qatar stop?
In university, I studied media production with performance. I studied the three arts of production which are TV, radio, and print. Before finishing my degree, I knew I really did like media but also I also found the love of PR accidently. I was working in a New Look store part time while in university. I used to run into some people that work in a magazine and they used to come into the store to borrow clothes quite a lot. So, one day I asked the person what they were doing, and they replied that they are taking clothes and taking it to the PR office. Within that I went to the PR office, and I inquired what is PR – I was think I was roughly 19 or 20 that time. I was informed about what PR is, and they offered me work experience. So during my university days, I was doing work experience for New Look, while I was also working for them on a weekend.
By chance in 2009, I drove somebody I knew to an interview with Qatar Airways in Heathrow airport. While I was there with her, they asked if I wanted to join in for an interview and I got the job the next 2 days. So, it was by accident that I got a job with Qatar Airways. During that time, I was working as a publicist, one of my last publicist jobs, with Naomi Campbell’s charity line called Fashion for Relief. People were saying: "Oh my gosh, why are you giving that up to be an air hostess?" But I was excited about the fact of going to a different country that I’ve never been to, not the fact of the job. I was excited to know what Qatar was about, so I gave up my life as a publicist to be an air hostess in Qatar in 2009.
How did the idea of Creatives Amplified originate?
While in Qatar I got back into the swing of working in media. I did enjoy flying, but after 2 years and a half I was sort of bored. Somebody like me, I like to do many things at once and I can take on a lot, but flying was a bit repetitive and not exciting enough for me with time. I didn’t enjoy being on a flight for 14 or 16 hours doing nothing, apart from re-applying my makeup or attending to passengers.
So, I managed to ask permission to do sort of like work experience in my free time at a magazine in Doha, which I did under the different alias of Hayat. That’s why different people call me Hayat as well, that was in 2011 then. After 2 years of flying, I started being an editor for a magazine in Qatar, and during that time I built up my connections with the industry, brands and companies. I would write articles while I was still flying, and I would type them up when I landed into a country. On my days off, I would do photoshoots, etc. Then slowly I moved on to a few different magazines in Qatar, and then the rise of social media happened and through that I got connected with a lot of social media people. People who were starting out on Instagram, and I would use their services for the magazine and slowly from that it just became clear that people just wanted me to manage them because I had the industry contacts. That started happening and Creatives Amplified only began in October 2018 as in last year, officially. It’s been just like 9 months, but the idea and the logic behind it has been since way over 2 years, but not official.
I would consider you the ring master in most of the projects you’re leading. Can you tell us what it’s like to be managing from behind the scenes?
I think this is where I thrive the most, being a manager because that helps to bring out the PR aspect to me. Like I said I’m somebody who enjoys multi-tasking and being able to manage all these different personalities with different operations and clients helps me maintain my activeness.
I manage somebody based in America which usually means I’m up until 4 AM, so between 10 PM and 4 AM I’m literally working on the American market. I’m kind of thankful for Saturdays because neither Qatar nor America is working, so that’s my one day where I know no one is going to hassle me. Managing them is definitely like I’m sort of the ring master of many projects. I have an assistant who I work with, and all the admin work and things that require thought processes to deliver reports and etc. is handled by her because I’m mostly out in meetings, on the ground doing projects, and being in events. The heart of PR is about events, being seen and networking, so that is what behind the scenes is for me, networking.
Have you ever dealt with a client who tends to have a “diva” persona? If yes, what would be your advice on how to best manage the situation?
When you say client I’ll assume you mean an amplifier, which is someone I manage, one of the influencers I manage, then I would say the majority, 90% of them, have a diva attitude. That is what prompted me to name my company, Creatives Amplified, because I found that the people I wanted to work with or that I work with already have an amplified vision of themselves. It’s a two-edged sword because I want them to have an amplified vision of themselves, which means they believe in their craft, they believe in what they do, and they believe that they can excel. You need to have that kind of pompous, belief about yourself and what you do, in social media to be able to always be taking videos of yourselves and creating content.
I didn’t want to work with people who are shy and or do not want to amplify themselves, so the other side of that means that yes they are divas. I tell them all the time you really do my heading, you are really annoying - they change their minds all the time with projects. That’s one of the hardest things I have to manage is the fact that there’s so many personalities, most of them boil down to being a diva in their own right. Because either A. they’re perfectionists and they know what they want, or B. they’re just giving me a hard time because they want to give the client a hard time. In wanting to give the client a hard time, I’m the one who has to soften the blow and then they just give me the hard time, but that’s why I call them children! My children, because I feel like sometimes they throw tantrums, they may not want to do a project or they may want to switch the project around which has nothing to do with what the client wanted. In that respect they do have diva attitudes, but I wouldn’t have it any other way! I want them to have that pompousness about them. It’s what drives them to continue to develop content, them believing in their craft.
What would you consider the most rewarding part of your job? Other than being at events with the likes of Naomi Campbell.
The most rewarding part of my job is definitely not being at star-studded events because in the UK, from the age of 21 until the age of 29, I was always with celebrities. I was a publicist for the likes of Nicole Farhi, Prada, and Miu Miu. I always used to do celebrity dressing so that’s something in the UK that I have kind of done. That’s why I was ready to be a cabin crew because I lived a very fast life, I went to loads of premieres, you know, did all that with celebrities, worked with Naomi Campbell, etc.
The most rewarding part is seeing the vision for my influencers, working towards that vision, and being able to conquer things we didn’t think we would conquer. For example, raising the stake in that person’s industry, whether they be a travel, fashion, or beauty influencer, just keep on pushing the levels of their influence. What’s rewarding for me is seeing them grow, because they do the hard work. I love being able to champion that, that’s why I love the behind the scenes and being there to champion their craft.
I follow you on social media, and I got to say you are fashionable, hilarious, and I tend to be influenced by your lifestyle, what you’re eating, where you’re going, etc. Did you ever - at some point in your career - thought about exclusively venturing into the influencer marketing field, instead of managing the people who do?
For me, I definitely knew I did not want to be an influencer. I know every now and then I may put things up but I do not want myself to have that pressure. I see it as a pressure, there’s a difference between what I see for the guys I manage, and what I feel. Because I will have to tell them you have to do five posts, two stories, you have to do x, y, z as a list and it goes on and on and on. For me, that’s pretty scary, in terms of delivering for that client. It’s really scary for me, because I just want to post whatever I want to post, whenever I want to post it, as I like to post it. But working as an influencer means you have to adhere to what the client wants, and I don’t want that pressure on my life. Which means I am not a content creator, I do not want to amplify other people’s businesses or companies, because I’d rather just post if I want and when I want. That’s when I realized I did not want to be on the front face of being an influencer.
I am certainly not a fashion influencer either. I think in all my years of working in fashion PR, I know the difference between then and now. When I was working in fashion; Marie Claire magazine or Red magazine back in the UK, there’s a certain style you would be in because you are working in the media. But now, I dress whatever I want to dress how I want to dress, and I do not dress to influence anyone. Or even being dietician influencer, but apart from that I am really enjoying Keto at the moment. So if anyone’s influenced by my love of keto, then I feel quite proud of that because it’s just natural.
Tell us about your favorite city, favorite music genre, and favorite regional fashion designer. Maybe favorite amplifier? No need to answer that but off the books, mine is Rita Dahdah for sure!
My favorite city in the whole world is Houston, Texas. I think I’ve traveled quite a lot because I was cabin crew, and Houston I’ve always loved. I just love how polite the people are, and my second favorite place is Thailand, just the hustle and bustle of it. I used to know my way around Thailand like anything, it’s just somewhere I appreciated. My favorite music is 80s. I love 80s! My favorite regional fashion designer? I have to say Yasmin Mansour from Qatar. Definitely Yasmin Mansour. I’m being a bit bias, but she’s amazing at what she does, and she’s one of the homegrown Qatar brands that is doing so well. I definitely cannot say which one is my favorite, but I must say that the ones who started with me and are still with me have a special place in my heart, and that’s the likes of Koodiz and TwistedCurlz. They’re definitely my fresh babies, and my international baby Asiyami Gold. She’s the one that does my heading the most, like a lot, because I don’t sleep, because she’s in America.
Describe a normal day in your life; your day-to-day rituals and routine.
A normal day in Harriet’s life? I kind of changed my day, before it used to start at 9 or 10 AM and it goes on till 10 in the evening, but then I realized I needed to re-incorporate the gym in my life. So, I started going to the gym at 10, and started my day at midday. In the beginning I was really panicky because I thought oh my gosh I’ve seriously got less hours in the day now. But I have managed to re-train my mind to not panic and to realize that it will be okay if I do that, and I can do that and I can start later.
Now a normal day would be gym at 10 AM, start my meetings from lunchtime – and it’s always a meeting during the day, meetings upon meetings upon meetings, or projects, which we also call activations. Sometimes there’s an activation during the day, an activation for one of my influencers which may be visiting a restaurant, visiting a store, or doing an event. And then in the evening, it’s usually loads of events where I get to network, support my clients by showing up to their events, etc. Then I will get home around 10 PM – 10:30 PM and I will start my admin work around 11 PM. While I’m doing that, America wakes up and I start admin with America and that goes on till 3 – 4 AM. And then I’m back up again at 8:30 – 9 AM and back in the gym at 10 AM. That’s the standard life of Harriet.
When you’re not out there running the world, what do you like to do in your free time?
When I don’t have to be out of the house, I enjoy nothing more than staying in my pajamas and not posting on social media at all. I look forward to these days – and I don’t mean not answer people’s messages – where I don’t have to be out, and there’s not an event that I have to attend as in have to attend. When I’ve managed to push out all my meetings, I have no influencers I need to go and meet with, I managed to clear a day in my diary, there is nothing I take more pleasure in than not leaving my house.
But that also means I don’t do anything for myself, in terms of; I know the car needs washing or I know I need a manicure/pedicure desperately – which I usually do all of the time – but I don’t even want to see the outside world then I would not go and do a manicure/pedicure. That’s how much I enjoy those free days. A free day for me means not even doing anything for myself, apart from staying in pajamas. During Ramadan, I tried my best to work from home and not have to do meetings, but then again there is of course the tents you have to attend, so that’s more after eftar or suhoor. But that is my ideal free time, not being on the phone, not being on the laptop, not stepping out of the house, and not doing anything, literally anything. Just sitting, which is basically the opposite of what I do everyday, which is running around. My enjoyment is to just sit.
Finally, what or who empowers Harriet? And how do you empower other women?
Do you know what? There’s a lot of people I don’t know in person who empower me, on social media, and I take them bits and bobs from them. I know you shouldn’t take everything from social media because some people put out there what they want to put out there, but I suppose I take from that, not necessarily their personality, but their level of achievement and attainment. So, there’s a lot of black girls that I follow on social media that are in places of their own businesses or levels of what they’ve achieved or where they’re at or what projects they do, and that is what literally makes me fan girl. I fan girl them. Pushing to be there one day or be in their presence is what empowers me. One being Morin, she’s the global head of luxury, FB and Instagram. She’s like somebody that indirectly empowers me to be at those sort of levels.
Apart from that, people don’t really empower me. What empowers me to keep going is the fact that I want to love what I do. Throughout every job I’ve had, if I stop smiling or I find it hard to wake myself up in the mornings or I’m so miserable, I cut it off. I’ve had jobs that I’ve lasted 12 days or 7 days. The longest I’ve been miserable in a job for has been a month, and then I cut it off. For me, the most important thing is happiness and that’s what empowers me. Rather than people, I think happiness is what empowers me. I could stop what I’m doing now and go be for example a newspaper seller on a street corner, but if I wake up every day loving that job, that’s my empowerment. It’s so important to be happy in life and my mum knows that all the time.
For example; during my time at Qatar Airways, when I stopped enjoying flying I knew it was time to cut it off. Everyone was like: "How can you?! It’s crazy you’re doing amazing stuff, you’re going around the world!" But when you go to China and you don’t even want to go see the Great Wall of China anymore, and then you go to Brazil and you don’t even want to go outside anymore, that’s when you know the enjoyment has gone. My empowerment is happiness. I suppose if I can go to bed at 4 AM every single day then I’m happy with what I’m doing. If I hated what I was doing and if I was disgruntled, I would never give up my sleep at 4 AM. I would not want to do what I’m doing, so definitely that’s what empowers me. That’s what I wish would empower other people; that you can find something that you love doing so much that you’re going to build on it, it’s going to be your fuel, it’s going to be your energy, it’s going to be your rocket to keep you going. There’s that happiness.