Impact International: UK/Euro Honors
Empathy Is More Than A Buzzword: Natasha Gregory Means Family Business
A lot of qualities that make a great mother also make a great agent. In fact, and according to Natasha Gregory, they go hand in hand. Kids keep you “focused, patient, grounded, grateful, kind, empathetic, exhausted,” which all describe Natasha Gregory’s state of mind in the middle of 2021. It’s easy to see how these qualities will also be conducive to, or the result of, dealing with artists in this time of uncertainty. Gregory is a fierce advocate for mentoring and supporting women and parents in this industry, whether it’s agreeing to one-on-one mentoring sessions; taking both her kids to work – panels, meetings and festivals – to show that it should be the norm and can be done, and most importantly, pushing companies to be more parent friendly; or only agreeing to do panels that will create positive change in the music industry in equality and fair rights. “This is a human business, with real people,” she says. Gregory notes that people have gone through “incredible trauma over this past year and a half.”
The crisis has taught her a few things: “Nothing is a given, live each day well and true. Health is key, mental and physical. This pandemic really has focused my views on how I conduct my business going forward, not by changing how I do business, but reinstating the importance of how I conduct my business and that it is greatly needed and appreciated.” The best way to manifest this newfound focus was to launch her own business, after 20 years in the game, working for some of the world’s biggest agencies. So, right at the end of 2020, Gregory launched her own agency, Mother Artists, together with her brother Mark who runs the management arm of the business. The company operates on a “no-bullshit policy,” which Gregory explained in more detail: “This industry can very often be ‘smoke and mirrors’ – whether it’s within a company to staff, to promoters, or PR. Our PR from the very start was purposefully direct, simple, and honest, using language we all use every day. We wanted to speak to everyone and treat everyone as an equal, because that’s what we are – equals! Working hard and delivering the best is a given in what we do every day, what isn’t a given is making sure business is done in the best way possible.”
What helps is working with a business partner who’s family. “Mark and I can tell each other exactly what we think and not get offended, we know that if we disagree with each other that the very next day we will be fine. We also have a very straightforward approach. We are half German and it’s an advantage in organization strategy but also in being able to get to the point quickly and sort things out straight away. We really are each other’s biggest champions and always have been. We know our skill set and who does what well,” she explains. Both even share clients, IDLES, for instance, whose manager is Mark and whose agent is Natasha. Mother Artists would have likely never seen the light of day had it not been for the pandemic. There wouldn’t have been time for “my brother and I to talk through our joint beliefs, visions, and shared work ethics,” Gregory says.
She admits that having two kids aged 2 and 6 at the beginning of lockdown “was a real juggle,” adding that the best thing she could do about it was to “just be open with myself and those I trust. When I’m not OK, it’s OK not to be OK and to talk about it. I have also trained in the gym a lot – for my brain and mental health there is nothing better. Listening to IDLES tracks or female hip-hop on full blast at the gym always sorts me out. Plus, my kids are the best distraction and funniest team around me ever.” Gregory’s openness is one of her qualities most appreciated by her clients, business partners, and friends. “I bounce well off people and social environments, and not having that has been tough for me in this pandemic. Life is short so I’m going to make sure that I live it in truth to who I am and to help and use my privileged position for good.”
Gregory thinks the business still has a long way to go in terms of inclusivity. “Companies are still mostly set up to suit and support one type of person and that needs to desperately change. The pandemic has meant that everyone has had to work from home, which I feel has on the one side hugely balanced the playing field for a more inclusive environment, but also made it tougher for others depending on the environment that they are having to work in. With companies opening again, I hope that decisions can be made for each individual employee, on what helps them be the best in the business but also the best in their own personal life. Equality isn’t everyone working the same hours. Paternity should be available for both parents, not just the mothers. Empathy should be a real emotion and skill for the heads of companies, not just part of a ‘buzz /PR’ campaign. Accountability and action are important.” It’s clear that Gregory is leading by example, helping “in a small way to build this business for all. I wouldn’t be here without the help of some amazing people, it’s only right to do the same.”