Toby Hassan-Fishman was recently named “Woman of the Year” at the 15th Annual International Business Awards and was the recipient of the Silver Stevie Award. She is also the recipient of a Gold win from the 2018 6th Annual Best In Biz International Awards, earning the title of Creative Executive of the Year.

She founded Eff Creative Group in 2013 with Doron J. Fetman. With global offices in New York City, Singapore, and Hong Kong, Eff Creative Group is a vertically-integrated agency that works to design, develop, and market award-winning campaigns with international appeal.

ClickZ: Your bio says that at 19 you began to design for brands “right from your living room.” Could you tell us a little bit more about that.

Toby Hassan-Fishman: Sure. As a kid I’d always been an artist; I loved sketching and doing portraits. At 19, I called a local graphic design firm and asked how I could pursue a career in design, since I’d always been told artists don’t make any money. They told me they had an opening and to come in with my drawings. I learned the basics of photoshop, and after three weeks, they hired me. Within a year, I was managing projects on my own, then I left and started my own design firm, where I was doing everything, from branding to packaging to print. After nine years or so, I met Doron J. Fetman, our CEO, and in 2013, we co-founded Eff Creative together.

CZ: Can you brag about yourself a little? What are some projects you’re really proud of?

THF: There are two projects I’m really proud of. In 2016, (CEO of Patriarch Partners) Lynn Tilton needed a huge social campaign. And we had basically overnight to a couple of weeks to get the whole thing started. After a few months, we landed the cover of Bloomberg Businessweek with the hashtag #AllLynn.

Another project was with a company that makes sophisticated trading products called Ticker Tocker. We’ve been working for two years to create an integrated platform that’s easy to use but also incredibly powerful.

CZ: What are some industry trends that are exciting to you right now?

THF: Right now, there’s a shift in the industry. Agencies can’t just offer one service anymore. What we’re seeing are things like PR companies adding content marketing, and design agencies have to offer tech services. This is happening because successful projects need a more holistic approach. Vertical integration is the future. And I think we’re going to start seeing more and more agencies take this approach.

CZ: And do you find that clients are beginning to expect this holistic approach?

THF: Most clients come to us requiring some sort of brand makeover or to fix something that’s broken. But many times they’re looking for one service when they really need another. For example, many times they think they need PR, but we can see that then need to start with identifying brand verticals or building tech infrastructure. Having one company step in and take control of the whole project means greater accountability. A lot of times when things go wrong, one company will blame another, so there’s really no one there to step in.

CZ: Woman of the Year is a huge deal. Any thoughts on what it means to be a woman in the industry right now. What’s changed? What still needs to change?

THF: While there’s definitely been a huge positive shift, what we’re seeing now, in a sense, is an imbalance the other way. As a woman in business, there’s so much positive interest. It seems to be easier to be a woman in business than a man. It takes a lot more for them [men] to be recognized. We need equal recognition. Women should be accountable for the same things as men. If I win Woman of the Year and a man wins Businessperson of the Year there should be equal recognition.

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