Representing diverse talent before it was a thing, 1Park9 is at the forefront of niche marketing.

By Anthony Vagnoni
Posted Jan 17, 2024

At the intersection of creative and execution, you’ll find 1Park9. Not surprisingly, it’s in the neighborhood of 19th & Park. We’re not talking about East Side haunts bordering midtown Manhattan, but you’d be close – we’re talking about the cultural marketing agency 19th & Park, out of which 1Park9 was born. Both enterprises were launched by marketing entrepreneurs Tahira White and Whitney Headen (the former a producer, the latter a marketer), and both companies are making a name for themselves, as are their founders.

19th & Park started initially as a production company, but as its scope of projects broadened – and its success as a culturally tuned-in studio, having been launched by a pair of savvy young Black women – it organically began to work farther upstream, offering more creative development to clients and brands across all media platforms, according to Tahira.

Eventually, the creative services side of 19th & Park - named after the NYC streets where its partners lived - began to overshadow its production roots, leading Tahira (at right in the photo above) and Whitney to strategize on how to bring that 'production first' mindset and offering back to the forefront. Enter the new brand: 1Park9, launched in the spring of 2023.

Its roots, however, go farther back; Tahira says the partners spent over a year making sure the launch of 1Park9 was well planned, and that its connections to the mother ship were clearly articulated. “We’d spent so many years developing diverse talent and creating all this amazing work before it was a ‘thing,’ but in the process we may have sent out mixed signals,” she explains. “We had to amplify exactly who and what we were, because people were wondering – were we an agency? A production hybrid?

“So we created 1Park9 to scale opportunities for ourselves, as well as for the creative talent we have,” Tahira continues. “We have so many diverse directors and creators who we’ve spent years tapping for branded content and commercial projects, which has allowed them to build their reels. We knew that to get them into the room with big agencies and big brands, we’d need to adopt a more traditional production company structure. But we also wanted to do it within the culture and the ethos of what we’d already created with 19th & Park.”

As such, the company serves as a platform where multidisciplinary talents can flex their muscles and do it in a way that projects their ‘production first’ mantra. “And this allows us to position ourselves as thought partners and collaborators for our clients, and acting on that early in the creative development stage,” Tahira notes.

One thing that was certain, she adds, is where 19th & Park was making its mark, and that was in its understanding of niche markets. “Whether a brand is interested in reaching Gen Z, the LGBTQ community, Black consumers or other targeted groups,” she points out, “we’re the partners to come in with you and dissect that.”

And this isn’t just talk. Among their more notable projects include a project for Meta’s “It’s Your World” campaign, featuring popular content creators promoting Ray Ban’s Meta Stories eyewear. For the period underwear brand Knix, they created an inclusive digital launch campaign for its line with model Ashley Graham, which included both stills and motion content featuring a cast representing all shapes and sizes of women.

In the same fashion and lifestyle vein, they created a 360, multi-format introduction for this new brand of shavers designed for women from Athena Shave Club. Leaning on their 19th & Park content development chops, they curated a team of female creative talent and then cast the campaign perfectly.

Other 1Park9 projects include work for Under Armour, Puma, Lyft, Nike and Mailchimp. The company doesn’t just represent directors in the traditional production company model, but rather boasts an extensive roster of creative collaborators that spans everything from still photography to editorial to showrunners.

It was this innovative model that made Michael Belmonte join 19th & Park from SpringHill, the production arm led by LeBron James and Maverick Carter. Now serving as Head of Production for both 19th & Park and 1Park9, Michael partnered with Tahira and Whitney on a project for Nike and was so impressed he signed on. What sold him?

“Compared to so many other companies I’ve collaborated with for previous projects, Tahira and Whitney had a unique efficiency and attention to detail that led to elevated creative and production results, which ultimately made me very excited and grateful to join the team,” he explains. “This was at the time when 19th & Park was purely production, before building their creative services; however, that same core approach has organically rolled over into 1Park9.”

What sets 1Park9 apart? “I think it’s because we take that ‘production first’ approach, which means we keep production in mind at every stage of a project,” Michael replies. It sounds simple, but he adds that he’s seen many projects end up with overages and dashed promises when the realities of getting things made isn’t factored into the equation at the outset. “With us, every pitched detail is executable within scope and budget,” he states. “It’s how we’re able to support all of our partners on both the agency and client sides.”

Tahira and Whitney’s accomplishments have not gone unnoticed. She and Whitney were named to Adweek’s Creative 100 back in 2019, just a few years after launching 19th & Park, and were also named among the Trailblazing Women of Marketing by The Current, the digital advertising publication of The Trade Desk. Most recently, Tahira was named a 2023 Woman to Watch by the Women’s President Organization, a group of women business leaders.

If anything, Tahira is an irrepressible entrepreneur and communicator. Her fingerprints are on everything from Inc. Magazine profiles to symposia on boosting diversity in the production community to launching startups like Wercflow (a software program designed to speed the process of sourcing creatives and crew members) and hosting its “Okay, Copy” podcast to penning thought leadership articles on LinkedIn (check out her recent piece on the future of the production ecosystem). As such, she values the way Simian helps her work more efficiently, letting her focus her creative energies on building the 1Park9 brand and connecting with clients.

“I really appreciate its user experience and flow, in terms of how easy it is for me to juggle a busy schedule and build showreels when they need to be done quickly,” Tahira says about working with Simian. “It allows me to be more collaborative, not just with clients but with my sales team. We’re using it not just for talent suggestions, but to share and pitch campaigns and brand ideas.”

Speaking of sales, a big step for 1Park9 was adding representation, which they did by signing with Thick & Thin, the East Coast repping firm launched by Bobby Rowe and Sabrina Mehar. A dynamic duo who mirror the energy and initiative of Tahira and Whitney, they were instrumental in helping organize a well-received symposia 1Park9 hosted on diversity in production, held during Advertising Week in New York in late 2023. With over 50 ranking advertising professionals in attendance, they discussed actionable ways to drive greater participation and representation with a panel of industry heavyweights.

“I’m a big believer in solutions being found in small rooms,” says Tahira about the seminar, in a comment that serves as a metaphor for her philosophy about the production industry: “We wanted this to be an event where people could walk away with some tactical ideas and where we could come together as decision makers to talk openly about our problems -- because while we may always feel like we're in competition, we’re really all in this together.




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