Originally published in print issue #147 of Metro Magazine on July 4, 2014.
Don’t call her the “Selfie Girl.”
Patrice Millien, Managing Director of A Millien Concepts and the force behind the phenomenon, has every intention of creating a lasting creative legacy that will dwarf the monster success of her viral parody hit.
What you didn’t know is that the local success of “Selfie” was a long time coming. Patrice and her business partner Denith McNicolls had been planning a parody video for some time as a means to showcase their capabilities as a creative entity. The video was meant to serve as a promotional marketing tool for their own services. Patrice says she never anticipated that it would go viral.
“It was getting out of hand. People wanted up to come perform it at fetes. It was too much,” she laughs.
Freshly graduated from UWI with a degree in Psychology in late 2012, Patrice hesitated to begin a traditional corporate career, knowing that she would find it boring and monotonous. In the interim, she began working with her brother David Millien of Mill Beatz entertainment as his business manager, helping to bring some structure to the administration side of things, so he could focus on the creative.
“I’m an organizer by nature. If something’s going on, I’m the first one to try to put systems and structures in place. I always want to market things; put a spin on it and give it promotion.”
The idea to formally expand her talents into marketing came in late April 2013, and by January, she had settled into forming her own creative agency. The company, separated into three branches, offers creative services, entertainment services, and business administration.
Rolling off the massive success of “Selfie,” Patrice launched the Youtube series “Uncovered” soon after in order to capitalize on the number of eyes she had at her command. While “Selfie” served to introduce her talents as a creative force to the local Trinbago market, “Uncovered” serves to introduce unknown local talent to a larger audience through remixed covers of popular soca songs.
“I’ve had the chance to interact with exceptional talent who needed to be exposed, and this was the perfect opportunity to put them into the mainstream. A lot of the artists in the series do background vocals for popular artists. They have original work too, but it doesn’t get picked up as much as it should because of the soca domination on the radio. This is a simple way to counteract that.”
Patrice says that Uncovered is the major project on her docket for this year. While the series currently lives online, she has plans to expand the brand to radio and television, and even a live concert. The plan is to build an audience for her artists through promoting the soca covers, so that when she begins promoting their original work, Uncovered will already have a built in audience.
As to the actual business of running a business, Patrice says that the biggest setbacks are financial.
“We do the best we can with the resources we have available. Uncovered is a little easier to produce because of all the professional relationships I’ve cultivated, but it’s mostly done with voluntary work. These services are very expensive to hire out. With a proper budget I could take it to a whole other level. At this stage it’s about using the situation to inspire creativity to solve problems.”
But Patrice definitely has big plans. Her dream project involves acquiring enough office space to open what she calls “Dreamland”: a multi-faceted production house with rooms dedicated to every imaginable creative field that can be rented out to anyone with need of them.
At just 24, Patrice has already accomplished quite a bit, but she’s still not satisfied.
“I think I’m older than I should be at this stage. In my mind, I should be making USD$20Ka month. That’s how big my ambition is. But I accept and understand now that everything comes in it’s own time. You have to crawl before you can leap. You have to know that everything can’t come too fast.
Though her degree isn’t in marketing, Patrice is confident that despite her relatively young age she’s more than qualified to take on even bigger clients.
“I have the experience. I’ve worked as a research assistant, a project manager, creative manager; I’ve run the admin for both my brother and my dad. I think my experience makes up for the lack of formal training. What you put out helps to solidify that. The videos I’ve created have a legacy. You can literally see what we can do. The proof is in the pudding.”
If you were hoping for more parodies, you’re out of luck. According to Patrice, there’s just too much danger of having her agency pigeonholed into a niche she doesn’t want to be in. But between the upcoming second season of “Uncovered” and Patrice’s other plans, there will be lots of great content for Trinidad to enjoy for ages to come.