When Kat Lloyd and Hayley Blatte Anton lost their jobs before the pandemic started, they watched a community of small artists and businesses begin to fade into the background as the city seemed to go silent. Their answer was to form a small ad shop called KB Agency, headquartered on Cypress Avenue.
They previously hosted a podcast called Beat Face Radio, which prominently featured a number of drag personalities. Doing this surrounded them with a network of local artists, so it wasn’t surprising when a mutual friend named Cassi Lopez, who runs a Brooklyn body piercing shop called So Gold Studios asked them to take on a branding project. Now, they say that the studio gets “googled a lot.”
“Cassi was the one who said you two should start a business and we were like, yeah we should,” Lloyd says. Anton had also, once, co-owned a feminist sex shop and bookstore in Bushwick called the Troll Hole.
“We started in Bushwick because it was where we both lived at the time. We are a lockdown start-up so everything was remote – we still work this way,” she says. “Just a couple of round the way gals.” Anton had since relocated to LA, she notes, but Lloyd remains “in the neighborhood.”
Like any startup, there were trials and tribulations. Anton has a background in fine arts and the tech industry and Lloyd came from a background in journalism – she had covered a local drag pageant over here in 2017. Running a publicity shop, they had to do everything from marketing to web design to e-commerce to social media management themselves.
“Hayley was working in business tech analytics and I was in operations and middle management for a popular barber brand,” says Lloyd. She says that this has given them “a skill set that’s made for about 20 different jobs.”
“We’ve worked in a lot of different fields because that’s the nature of our age group,” says Lloyd.
Their biggest struggle, however, was finding out how to split their time.
“Our people found us, and we found them. Our hardship was figuring out who we didn’t want to work with,” said Lloyd, noting that “we didn’t want to work with people who were not aligned.”
The ones they have picked up include Bibingka Mama, a drag queen performer and bibingka maker – a type of ooey gooey filipino rice cake – who also resides in Bushwick; a performance artist who goes by the name Penny Arcade; and Ja’Toria Harper, a chef who works at a hotel on Roosevelt Island. They call Harper the shop’s “shining star right now.”
Harper, for instance, won a free consultation from Lloyd at a raffle they held at a food workers benefit, but instead of asking them to do things for her career she asked them to create a campaign to get her uncle’s prison sentence commuted. To aid that, they built her a website called Setjefffree.org. According to the site, Jeffery Milo-Burkees was convicted in 1987 for killing an inmate while in prison for another crime, even though a different inmate later confessed to committing the murder. He’s been in jail ever since.
“She asked us if we could create assets or a campaign for her to help her get her uncle’s sentence commuted by the governor. So we created a site, a deck and a gen outreach for her and we wound up getting her on the First Degree podcast, which was major,” said Lloyd.
“They really did a good job of putting it together on that podcast,” says Anton. Harper calls working with the agency “a fever dream.”
Ambition is a guiding force at their new shop, though Lloyd says “we hate capitalist society” and “we kind of flip it on its head.”
“Let us be the evil people that brand you,” she adds.
Top image courtesy of the KB Agency.
For more news, sign up for Bushwick Daily’s newsletter.
Join the fight to save local journalism by becoming a paid subscriber.