A Day in the Life

A Day in the Life: Nikki Leste, Head of Talent, Channel Mum

As well as being mum to two of her own children, Channel Mum’s Head of Talent Nikki Leste is ‘mum’ to more than 30 of the UK’s top parenting creators.

Nikki is the Head of Talent at award-winning, female-run influencer and marketing agency Channel Mum. The agency puts integrity, care and support for both creators and clients at the heart of its work, meaning Nikki’s role is as much emotional as it is practical.

Famed for winning awards for both content creation and brand purpose, Nikki is the UK’s most experienced Talent Manager in the family sector – and with UK families coming in all shapes and sizes, her working day is never a straightforward nine-to-five but it’s a job she is passionate about.

Nikki chatted with Talking Influence, sharing with us what a typical day in her life looks like. 

7:30: The alarm shrieks and I reach for two things – my phone and an extra-strong cup of tea. As my own kids are almost 18 and 21, I no longer have the morning chaos of dealing with babies and toddlers like many of our creators do. But because I have been there, done that and worn the t-shirt, I respect and understand what they are going through and the challenges they face combining parenting and working. Having a Talent Manager who really gets you is so important, as you’re a person, not a ‘product’.

8:00: After checking overnight updates on my phone, the next hour is spent getting ready and doing any household chores. We ran a hybrid WFH model for years before Covid made it a thing, and it empowers all our staff to work their best way.

9:00: I’m at my desk checking in on everyone and especially on our pregnant mums. While it’s not quite ‘One Born Every Minute’, we do have a constantly-updated list of who is pregnant, who’s in labour and who has a happy new arrival to the team! Not many agencies can boast that!

9:30: The daily team Skype call sees us go through any issues, update on campaigns going live and business wins – plus lets us have a natter before the day fully gets going. Working with an amazing bunch of mum creators means that my day rarely follows the traditional 9-to-5. I have to be available between those times for agencies and clients, but I know that our roster of creators are likely to be quiet first thing in the morning and again around 3pm (typical school run times) and I wouldn’t dream of trying to get hold of someone around 5pm because every mum knows that this is the witching hour. Google it, it really is a thing!

10:15: As we have such a diverse range of talent, the structure of my day is very fluid so I don’t have a set routine each day – I’ll always have a few longer-term projects on the go. Right now that includes testing and trialling a new system that should help us streamline some of our processes and enhance the service we provide. I love a good system and if you can label and colour co-ordinate, then I’m sold! 

11:00: Once a week we hold a management meeting allowing us to have a full overview of everything going on in the business. It’s a chance to brainstorm new ideas, showcase our latest press appearance and review incoming campaigns and deals. 

With mums making 85% of buying decisions, the spending power of the family market and mum vertical is the biggest in the UK, so the range of brands we work with is huge  – from cars and travel to retail and finance. However, integrity and purpose come before profit, so we’ll always review potential campaigns to ensure our talent’s long-term career and reputation is protected, and that all our work is brand-safe.

12:00: Without a doubt, my favourite part of my job is contact with our creators. This can range from the daily back and forth of emails checking their interest in a deal that the partnerships team are negotiating or running through details of a brief for forthcoming projects, to a bigger picture chat to talk about their goals and aspirations for the coming year. Often, it’s a check-in to see how their little one is getting in at nursery, how the new kitten is getting on or what the food was like at the restaurant on their IG feed last night. 

These girls are like family to me and I adore hearing about every aspect of their lives. Having such a close personal relationship also makes the business relationship smoother as I instantly know which brands and campaigns are right for them and they trust all the team to always have their back. 

13:00: This is supposed to be lunchtime but I tend to eat while scrolling Instagram! It’s a naughty habit but it allows me to see what our talent are getting up to with their day, what else is going on in the mum market and scout for new talent. Oh, and to sneak a look at my current new obsession #catsofinstagram!

14:00: Our talent’s commercial reports are sent out every Thursday afternoon so I always allocate time to run through the progress of their various partnerships both with the creators and clients. I have an amazing team who look after the day-to-day account management of all our booked campaigns but I like to have an overview of everything that is going on. Yes, the word ‘control freak’ has been used!

16:00: The creators with older children are back from the school run so it’s time to talk and catch up on emails. I hope I am so much more to our girls than simply their agent or their manager – I like to think of myself as a big sister – so nothing is off-limits. 

I’m here for their good days and bad days, I’m privileged to know the secret pregnancies before they are shared with the world and hold a collection of random pieces of information in my head that I’ve learnt about them all over the years. It also helps that I am a mum so I understand when they need an extra day or two to create content because the kids have all caught a bug or there’s a juggle of football training, swimming lessons and guitar practice so trying to fit in editing is a bit of a logistical nightmare. I’ll always be on hand to explain to the brand and be their biggest cheerleader.

18:00: Being a Talent Manager is 100mph and you are never truly ‘off work’. With this in mind, I try not to end my working day too late and move away from my desk even though I’ll still have one eye on emails. Both our talent and clients know we are here for them 24/7 and we’ll work through the night and holidays if we need to.

Evening: My free time is generally spent reading, watching a good box set, or catching up with the latest dramas in my kids’ lives which is even more exciting than a Netflix mega-hit! Then it’s off to bed to relax and recharge before I start all over again…

Channel Mum received an Influencer Marketing Award in 2021 highlighting its progressive and inclusive approach to work. It’s great to learn more about how Nikki and the team put people first, and seek joy in all of the work they do. 

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