24
Oct

People

SHEELA BERRY 1/2 
Co Founder Toy Box Club and Director AirMTM

Your career in the music industry sounds really exciting being able to work with talented musicians and hanging out at gigs! Can you tell us a little more about your music company AirMTM and how you got involved in the music industry?
I got involved in music because of my father who owns his own label. He has been in the business for a very long time and has worked with some of the most amazing people including Jimi Hendrix, Ike and Tina Turner as well as the most legendary jazz artists from Miles Davis Thelonious Monk and Charles Mingus to name but a few. He is a pretty cool dad, he used to drop me off at school in his red convertible Triumph 4 with us singing along in full blast to Billie Holiday and Ella Fitzgerald. I would know how to sing every instrumental solo to a Billie Holiday track. I learned the piano and taught myself how to play the guitar so I guess I was destined to end up in the music business eventually. Air came along after a 4-year stint in the fashion PR world. I had joined when the company had just started so there were only 3 of us. 12 years on and I’m proud to say that we have an amazing client roster. We work on 7 festivals, 3 labels, 1 venue, huge tours and incredibly talented artists…and that is just the PR side. Air also consists of a management company, which was established by my business partner Marc Connor who manages Jamie Cullum as well as a booking agency where we book tours for bands and artists worldwide.

You started out in the fashion industry originally but why did you decided to leave the world of fashion?
I was very young when I got into fashion (I was only 19 years old) and I skipped university because I was offered a full time job as a fashion PR assistant after having done work experience with 19 Management (Simon Fuller). I was very much sucked into the whole business quite quickly, I was molded to be a stereotypical PR machine and I worked like a dog. After four years I was worn out, my job had invaded my whole life, and my working life became my personal life. I was obsessed with my appearance, what I did, where I went, etc. and I soon realized that I had to get out or I was going to make myself really sick. Saying all that however, I don’t regret doing it one bit, I became a much stronger person from the experience. I learned how to deal with different (or difficult) people and it taught me how to work hard and that working really hard above and beyond your job title can actually get you places.  

The summer must be a crazy time for you as you are managing multiple music festivals. I know that many of your festivals are geared towards families. Could you tell us which ones would be an amazing day out with kids?
Summer is probably the best and worst time for me. It is the busiest time at work and the kids are off school. I do the PR for two very family friendly festivals one of which is the Cheltenham Jazz Festival at the beginning of May and Love Supreme near Brighton in July. Both festivals really cater for the family from having children’s workshops to funfair rides on site.

As if you weren’t busy enough you have just co-founded the Toybox Club, which is completely different from Air! Can you tell us how you and your business partner, Jessica Green, came up with this very clever idea?
Jess and I have two children each exactly the same age, 3 and 5. We would constantly moan about the broken and unwanted toys taking over our homes so we decided to come up with a solution. Imagine a life as a parent where you no longer have to change batteries of a toy, never have to worry about buying new books and puzzles, and be confident that your child is playing with age appropriate and educational toys. We created Toy Box Club so you have less waste and more space. We provide a service for parents and a club for children.

Children do not have to own every toy, Toy Box Club helps them to understand the meaning of sharing and borrowing and encourages children to look after their toys better as well as encourage them to tidy up after themselves by putting all the toys back in the box once they have finished playing with them. We now live in a world where collaborative consumption is a lot more accepted, think of businesses such as Zipcars, One Fine Stay, and Netflix why not apply it to toys.

Who would you say is your biggest role model?
My dad for always sticking to what he believes in and my husband who is the most ambitious and determined person I know.

What drives you to succeed?
My family is the biggest drive. Not only do I want to provide for them and ensure they have a good future, but I also want them to be proud of what I have accomplished. I’d like my boys to look at me like I do with my dad and think that I rock!

What has been your most rewarding moment so far career wise?
I’m not sure I can really answer this as where my career is going right now is so exciting and I think my most rewarding moment is just around the corner.

AirMTM: www.airmtm.com

Toy Box Club: www.toyboxclub.co.uk - LAUNCHING SOON!

by Angela Lo (Photography by Marlene Lee)
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