Interview with EJ, Founder of Queer East

EJ Nutbrown - Founder of Queer East
EJ Nutbrown – Founder of Queer East

Earlier this month we caught up with EJ Nutbrown who is the Founder of That’s The Ticket and a queer busy business woman based in London.

So, tell us a bit about yourself. 

“Hi Cilla, my name’s EJ, I’m 37, and I’m from Hackney Wick” [crowd cheers]. 

How did That’s The Ticket come about? 

By chance, in the first lockdown. I had been Director of Sales & Marketing for various London attractions & museums, then when COVID hit and they all closed, I had a few calls asking if I would do their marketing, on a freelance basis… I had a mortgage to pay so it was more survival than ambition. Over time I built a brand around it, and the company grew from there. I’m grateful that chance was on my side as I’ve always had a weird obsession with marketing, and now I get to do it under my own rules.

How did you find setting up a business during lockdown?

Tough! I had no idea how to set up a business, I hate accounts, and I’m quite frivolous, so suddenly running payroll, supporting other people, and thinking logistically didn’t come naturally. I’m still winging it to be honest, but it’s working, and I’m beyond grateful of our clients for trusting in us. Everyone seems happy so far, which makes me happy. So what started as tough, actually gives me life now. 

From your involvement in working with large brands, do you feel that brands are more open to working with queer businesses now? How has the landscape changed?

I don’t think it’s a case of doing business with me, I’m queer. I would like to think people do business with me because I’m good. But you are right in recognising that the landscape has changed, both for the better & worse.

We’re living in a progressive movement but some corporates just don’t get it. Isn’t it tiresome to see high street chains vomit rainbows all over their branding during Pride month, without actually doing anything for the community.

I mean last year M&S made a sandwich gay FFS. And where’s Nike or Adidas supporting trans people who aren’t allowed to compete in sports with their identified gender?

On the flip side, we have the likes of Aesop’s queer library pop up which was great, and I hear this year Pret & Deliveroo are providing more internal support for their LGBTQ+ staff. We need more of this. Applying a rainbow to your logo is not a successful marketing campaign, it’s time for real sponsorship and support! 

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?

Thumper from Bambi “if you can’t say nothing nice, don’t say nothing at all”. Been saying that sentence since a little kid, not as cute as Thumper though.

Talk us through your daily routine as a business owner. 

Coffee, open laptop, procrastinate, repeat. No, we’re all in the same boat regardless of if you’re a business owner. I head to the office, we tend to kickstart the day by brainstorming client campaigns, and then crack on with the task ahead, but I also spend a lot of time with my clients. My largest budget is “client entertainment”, which suits me just fine!

What was your first milestone for TTT?

First contract, first day. It was with Attraction World, Olly (CEO) had seen my work in the past, and entrusted a huge project to me, I then invested everything earned from it back into the company which allowed for a nice safety net to start. 

Who is your role model and why?

Villanelle. She’s a fashion icon, tries to be a better person every day, and dies for her love. Besides, has anyone else answered this question with a murderer? Here to be different.

What is your coming out story? Sorry, but everyone loves a coming-out story...

I came out at 12. I always knew. Even at primary school… Kiss chase was so gender-conforming, I didn’t want to chase or be chased by the boys, I was interested in the girls. Telling my friends was easy, parents finding out, not so much!

Who’s your celeb crush?

Zendaya. Damn!

What do you think of the queer scene in London, where do you go out?

Having international mates, I can vouch it’s one of the safest and most open scenes in the world, but it’s young, conforming, and the lesbians are STILL hidden away in the basements (SHE bar, G.A.Y bar!). I’m an East girl so we have Dalston Superstore, but the options aren’t huge. I LOVE Adonis, Body Movements, and Femme Fraiche though, all events I highly recommend.

Whilst we’re on the topic of the queer scene, we heard through the grapevine that you’ve just set up a new queer night called Queer East – what do you have planned?

I’m so excited by this. It was all very spontaneous, in the smoking area with my mates having a little bitch about the average age around us, and decided instead of bitching about it, to do something about it. The next day, I drew up a logo and popped it on socials, and what I received back was insane. Turns out there’s a huge appetite for something new, welcoming everyone regardless of age, gender or sexuality. The launch party is at 2 More Years, 5th May. You can find details at @qe_london if you like. Expect high energy in a room full of ecstatic love. 

– Emma-Jane Nutbrown, Founder, That’s The Ticket, a marketing agency in Hackney Wick. @ej_nutbrown

If you liked this article and you are keen to learn more about inspiring queer people why not check out the other interviews in our Interview section?

Love Team Nonchalant x

Nonchalant Magazine
Nonchalant Magazine

This article was written by one of our creative team writers here at Nonchalant Magazine.

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