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Studio Growth From Startup to Scale in 3 Smart Steps

Gymshark’s Larry Gerrard tells us how to engage a team during rapid brand-building.

Photo by Danielle Cerullo.
Head of Community at Creative Force
Head of Community at Creative Force

If you’ve so much as glanced at a dumbbell lately, you know Gymshark, the U.K. apparel and accessories brand beloved by fitness influencers. As the company was experiencing monumental growth, they brought in veteran creative director Larry Gerard to helm their studio team. And while not every creative director could slide from two decades at beauty company Avon to a more in-your-face brand like Gymshark, Larry Gerard can because, well, he’s Larry Gerard.

Larry joins The Creative Operations Podcast to talk with host Daniel Jester about ways to lead a team through rapid acceleration without losing your brand voice or your mind.

This can’t-miss episode is available on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website. But please read on for a quick preview of what you’ll hear.

Phase 1: Love the Ones You’re With

When Larry joined Gymshark, he did so with the promise that he’d have the autonomy to build things out and shake things up as needed. But he didn’t come to Gymshark to tear down the work of the creative team he inherited. His mindset was to learn about them, honor the work they’d done, and set a culture that would give them quick success.

“Some of them had been with the company for five years,” Larry says. “They've got more Gymshark experience than me. They've seen things happen. They've seen a bit more growth. They've seen mistakes happen. So that positive energy I really wanted to bring, and I really wanted to show that I was supporting them.”

Let’s be clear—Larry was not shy whatsoever about singing their praises.

“One thing I said to them right from the start was that I was just going to PR the fuck out of them because they are brilliant, but they'd been a bit forgotten in the studio, in another building,” he says. “They are the cold face of the business. A lot of stuff they were doing makes money for Gymshark. So I get in front of people that they potentially wouldn't, and I get the opportunity to hold things up, hold people up and say, ‘Look at this. Look at that person!’”

By being a champion of the people he inherited, Larry helped Gymshark’s momentum to continue, not stall or get stifled, upon his arrival.

Phase 2: Fill in the Team’s Next-Level Positions

When Larry arrived, his best photographers were having to not only coordinate action on-model shots—showing how Gymshark apparel stretches and moves—but they were also concerning themselves with “system stuff,” as Larry puts it. They were sifting through Capture One folders for files, checking for data—“the usual digi op stuff,” Larry says.

So one of Larry’s top priorities was staffing that digitech role. On some teams, that can be seen as an extravagant role—a bonus hire—but not when you anticipate the growth that Larry saw coming for Gymshark.

“I come from a world where, especially on bigger productions, you may have two assistants who are running lighting and one digi op,” he explains. “That digi op is the photographer's right-hand person. And you know what? It is a show. And normally as an art director, I've brought all these people together to put on a show, and I'm in the middle of the show being the ringmaster, making sure the show's happening beautifully.”

Filling in these spots to create a larger orchestration, Larry was able to keep each person’s role realistically manageable while they focused on the quality of their work—rising to match heightened expectations for Gymshark.

Phase 3: Live the Brand, Love the Brand, Staff for the Brand

“I'm an absolute brand advocate,” Larry says. “I've spent my life building brands visually and also rejuvenating them. That's one of the most exciting things you can do.” So now, amid Gymshark’s meteoric rise, Larry has a lot of resources at his disposal, but he maintains a clear direction, to let the brand play out.

For Gymshark, this means a heightened specificity when seeking brand-appropriate talent to model the gear.

“We choose talent based on the potential clothing range we’re shooting, because each clothing range will talk to a different exercise tribe, so that authenticity needs to come through that talent, whether it's body shape, whether it's the way they move, whatever it is,” he says. “We spend a lot of time trying to get that across in our assets, and we do a lot of the movement stuff and we do a lot of the exercise stuff.”

But to make the talent exude the brand, the shot location needs to depict the brand’s nature too.

“Environment is so conducive with the models having a great time because ultimately, we have a great time,” Larry says. “And I can only say this because I've spent my life in studios—it's the most upbeat environment you’ll ever witness, and you couldn't fail to capture the true essence of that model.”

By furthering the brand through talent and space, Larry and his team help the Gymshark brand perpetuate itself—becoming all the stronger and clearer.

Inspired by Larry’s work with Gymshark? Ready to lead a brand’s studio through rapid growth? Keep the primer going as you stream the podcast on Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or our website.