The rise of the creator house


Agencies like Nashville’s Of Note are increasingly popping up around the country, serving as the bridge that connects national brands to local influencers.

In the middle of a neighborhood in Nashville sits a relatively nondescript, A-frame house with blue trim. If you drove by it, you likely wouldn’t think anything of it. But behind its bright front door is where the magic happens.

Officially called The Note House Nashville, the house is a space where the city’s hottest influencers gather to conduct photoshoots on Brooklinen sheets in the expertly staged bedroom or to raid the gifting closet. The latter is stocked with products from top fashion and beauty brands like Jones Road Beauty, Fekkai and Joe’s Jeans, all vying to work with Nashville’s trendiest. Beneath the glow of a stunning light fixture or in front of a hip piece of artwork from Minted, influencers snap photos or record TikToks inside the house that brands built, which they then share with their legions of followers, boosting both their profile and the brands they are promoting.

Note House is the coworking space of the influencer marketing agency Of Note, run by co-founders India Mayer and Katy Shah. Opened in November 2020, Of Note has become one of what will likely be many agencies representing and providing space for influencers to do what they do best: sell product while also selling their respective personal brands. 

Of Note currently represents seven influencers on a variety of platforms, from blogs to YouTube to TikTok. Instagram remains the most popular platform for partnerships, Mayer said. These influencers’ followings range from 30,000-300,000. There are 45 influencers who are members of Note House, though that number has been on the rise since the launch. The company has partnered with more than 60 brands, and the co-founders are looking to open a second Note House by the end of the year — they’re eying Texas.

Houses like the one in Nashville have increasingly come to market, though with various names: There are creator houses, content creation studios, creation spaces and hype houses in locales from Los Angeles to Atlanta. For its part, Note House has Of Note as the middleman and conduit for local influencers to connect with major national brands. At the same time, it provides a one-stop shop for brands like H&M, L’Oreal, and Bauble Bar (all of which have worked with Of Note) to infiltrate a mid-sized city. Among Of Note’s influencers, the largest segment of their followers lives in Nashville at least 95% of the time. Of Note requests analytics from all of its members prior to joining Note House so it can track this type of data.

Brands get this engagement without much work on their part and at a fraction of the cost of hiring, say, a celebrity to back the product. In some houses the influencers — generally micro- to mid-tier in reach — live in the space, but Note House is strictly a coworking space with no residential component.

“What we’re doing is giving brands a super easy way to activate in a market like Nashville,” Shah said. “We realized there had to be a better way to connect big and small lifestyle brands to influencers in smaller markets like Nashville. We had been thinking for a while about how to create a centralized place for brands and influencers. Influencers are what’s next for fashion commerce, if not already what’s happening with fashion commerce. And modern brands are recognizing the power of influencer marketing — that it drives sales and continues to be important.”

It’s further testament to the power of the micro-influencer. 

“Micro-influencers have such strong buying power with followers,” Mayer said. “Their followers really purchase from them and feel like their friends. These [influencers] answer their DMs every day, and that conversation sells a lot of product. Mega-influencers are great for exposure; micro-influencers are great for sales.”

Nashville influencer Hunter Premo, a Nashville-based Of Note client, works mostly in the fashion, lifestyle and travel space. She boasts 290,000 followers on Instagram, 10 million Pinterest views per month and around 60,000 monthly pageviews on her blog. She said Note House “has been amazing for content creation,” and backed the notion that it’s filling a hole in the market.   

Influencers must apply to become a member of Note House, with limited spots available and an ever-growing waitlist. They pay a monthly fee to be a part of the house, much like a coworking space or a social club, giving them access to shoot at Note House, attend events, network and participate in brand giftings.

According to Shah, the setup is working for brands, too. Some brands have seen more than 50 pieces of content created by the house influencers to date, she said. Though brands are not guaranteed a certain number of posts, as part of their memberships, Note House’s influencers are required to tag a minimum of five Note House partner brands per month in their content. 

Beginning March 1, Express, which recently opened a pop-up store in Nashville’s trendy The Gulch, will partner with Of Note and Note House by stocking Note House’s gifting closet with clothes. It will team with Of Note and influencers on events outside of the house, as well — in Express stores.

“The retail landscape is more crowded and competitive than it’s ever been, and brands have to not only stand out, but also keep evolving to meet ever-changing consumer needs,” said Sara Tervo, evp and CMO at Express. “We are doing this by engaging across new platforms and partnering with both our customers and influencers. We want to give visibility to a range of real, diverse and relatable people through our marketing campaigns and social media content.”

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