Michelle van Kempen

Michelle van Kempen
Founder of Flexcrew
State / Region
Creative Agency

Flexcrew is a matchmaking platform for photography, fashion, and visual arts. It allows brands to connect with and book a full-service creative crew or a skilled professional—all in one clear space. Rates are flexible and different for each original—depending on experience, portfolio and discipline. At Flexcrew we aim to be transparent in the whole production process. So, the rates of all our creatives are viewable on their profiles, with an option to negotiate via our chat tool.

Michelle. Tell us ABOUT yourself. 
I focus on what I do best: (re)building brands, creating campaigns and finding solutions to connect brands with their target audience. 

I studied Fashion and Branding at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute, where I lectured art direction later as well. Next, to that, I am working as an art director for brands like Adidas and Reebok and art directed numerous global campaigns and photo shoots. That's where I realised the production process of photoshoots is not efficient and transparent at all. The market needed digitalisation and efficiency. I wanted to adopt that and started creating a platform where the production process from searching and booking creators to briefings and payments stays in one clear place. 

Flexcrew grants creatives equal job opportunities, the guarantee of certified clients and overall more control over their work. I genuinely believe creators deserve and need to have that control, as they can do a way better job when they understand the market better, and when they play a more active role in building their careers. The platform represents photographers, videographers, models, art directors, set designers, stylists, makeup artists, hair stylist, prop designers and retouchers. 


Our readers would love to get to know you more Michelle. Tell us about yourself, what is unique about you, your brand or the services you offer?

What makes me unique is that I always like to bring game-changing ideas to the creative industry that are technology and digitally generated, as I have a background in working for the digital sector. The platform I am currently starting, Flex crew, is completely changing the way shoots have been produced for several decades. How Uber flipped the world of transportation upside down and Airbnb the same thing did for hospitality is Flexcrew now is introducing this collaborative and transparent idea of working to the fashion and photography industry. 

Michelle, what are your passion and aspiration in life? How did you start as a Creative Agency?

My experience as an art director showed me something needed to change in this industry. I started Flexcrew to benefit both creators and brands, by introducing technology to the production processes of photoshoots. I have a passion for bringing people together, learning from each other and collaborating so building a big digital community was a very logical step. 

Who is your inspiration in life Michelle? How do you stay inspired as Creative Agency?

I get much inspiration from students I lecture at the Amsterdam Fashion Institute. They are not used to traditional ways and processes of businesses yet, so bring a lot of innovative ideas to the table. 

We all make mistakes Michelle; we wish we could take back. What was the error you made in the past that you want to you can bring back?
I always have a lot of new business ideas, and I was never terrified to share them with other people as I believe I can learn so much of talking and having interesting conversations with people around me. I made a mistake not to sign NDA's, which resulted in my idea being stolen by a business developer. I learned from it, and I am more careful now. 

Michelle, How do you describe yourself regarding working with clients?

I am very open and honest, and very casual to work with. I am direct in giving my opinion to make sure processes are efficient, and I will never stop until a project is exactly how we want it to be. One client once said: "you look like a puppy, but work as a pit bull". 

Please tell us, Michelle, how do you prioritise work, social life, friends, and family?

I believe a balanced life is what I need. My work is important, but I can't do my job without having my friends and family around. My social life gives me energy. 

Michelle, please give us an example of a time when you were able to persuade someone to see things your way at work successfully.
I created a concept for a campaign for Adidas, but there were doubts in my team if it would work, so I didn't get much budget for it as they wanted to keep it simple. I was 100% sure the idea would work, but the budget didn't allow us to book a set builder. I decided to build the entire set myself in the studio and art directed it precisely the way I presented it in the first place. It turned out the campaign was a huge success, with much conversions. Next campaign the budget was tripled.

This situation showed Flexcrew's need for the industry as well. Within the platform, you can have a clear overview of what you can do for the available budget. It is easier to make decisions, and there are more options for creators in different disciplines and with different pay rates.

Michelle, please tell us about your proudest professional accomplishment as a Creative Agency. 
I only just launched the first part, which is a landing page with a sign-up feature, in November the full application will go live. It's , and I am proud of convincing so many people about the idea to support Flexcrew and help make it happen: investors, developers, UX/UI designers. 

Michelle, please give us an example of a time you were able to be creative with your work. What was exciting or challenging about it?
As an art director, I always have to be creative in my work. The most exciting part is to see how my ideas are coming to live in global campaigns. Difficult is that you can't force creativity. Sometimes ideas come so quickly and quickly, sometimes it takes a bit longer. Being creative is not a 5-9 job, you are always working, as ideas and inspiration don't stick to a specific time frame. The funny thing is that it doesn't feel like working, it feels natural. 

What advice would you give to the people who want to be successful as a Creative Agency?*
I experienced myself that having a big network really can help you. You can learn so much from other people and to have people coming from all different kind of backgrounds around you helps elevating your business to the next level. Make sure to be open to other people's opinions, experience and skills. 

Photo Credits:
Bernard Osei @thebernhardy
Adolfo Félix @adolfofelix
Christopher Campbell @chrisjoelcampbell
Oladimeji Odunsi @oladimeg
Allan Filipe Santos Dias @allan_fdias
Tyler Nix @jtylernix
Jordan Mixson @the_sockateur7
Allef Vinicius @seteales
Andi Rieger @andirieger
Dom Hill @ohthehumanity
Frank Flores @frankflores
Max Ostrozhinskiy @maxon
Danny Kekspro @dannykekspro
Ethan Haddox @ethanhaddox
Aiony Haust @aiony
Kimon Maritz @kimonmaritz
beasty. @beastydesign
Joel Filipe @joelfilip
Bryaan films @bryaanfilms
Oliver Cole @oliver_photographer