Before Astrid Stavro joined Collins, the US behemoth of an agency wasn’t particularly on her radar – nor was she especially looking for a new job. When she began conversations with Collins, Stavro was freelancing, having left her role as Pentagram partner in October 2021. “I was enjoying the freedom of being freelance – taking on my own clients and so on, and just organically growing the team for whichever projects required it,” she says. “But it felt a bit … I was essentially on my own.”
As for many of us during and post-lockdowns, there was a sense of isolation: working remotely wasn’t entirely new to many creatives, but the enforced solo-ness for vast swathes of time can lead to even the most introverted of freelancers feeling a bit, well, off. Before Stavro had even been introduced to Brian Collins, the eponymous co-founder of the agency, she had admired its work for clients like the San Francisco Symphony, OpenWeb, and Medium. “That’s when they fell into my radar to be completely honest – partly because they’re in the States and I was more European-centric,” she says.
It was her first Zoom with Brian Collins that changed everything. Introduced by a project manager Stavro had known from a previous job, Stavro was assured they would get on like a house on fire. Long story short, they did. “I had no expectations whatsoever – I didn’t know him personally, but I thought it’s always good to meet people,” says Stavro. “I literally had tears of laughter rolling down my cheeks for an hour. He’s so hilarious; he cracked me up, and it was totally relaxed. And I like a good laugh; I like people with a sense of humour.” They reconnected around a month later, when Collins said Stavro should also meet Leland Maschmeyer, the agency’s CEO and co-founder.