Lesley Lister

Catching up with Lesley Lister, Founder of TTM Management

We sit down to have a chat with Lesley Lister about her company, TTM Management, how it all started and their new office on the Quayside…

TTM Management is the North East’s largest and most established diverse model and talent agency. As the agency approaches almost 30 incredible years in business, we’re catching up with Lesley Lister, founder and managing director.

Could you share a specific moment or experience that defined your decision to establish TTM Management?

Working with numerous promotional agencies in London, I realised there was a demand for organised campaign teams, but without the benefit of commission. This was my lightbulb moment! I decided it was prime time to take matters into my own hands and founded Tyne Tees Models which as you know is now TTM Management!

What were some of the most significant challenges you faced in the early days of TTM Management, and how did you overcome them? 

In the early days, our biggest challenge was getting our name out there. Spending on advertising and knocking on doors were my strategies. Being young, female, and perhaps a bit naïve, presented additional obstacles. But with stubborn determination, unwavering grit, and the support of my amazing husband, I was committed to making TTM a success. 

Considering the expansion of TTM Management’s portfolio to include a diverse range of talent, what motivated you to venture beyond traditional modelling and embrace a broader spectrum of talent? 

The idea sparked when my family and I worked on a campaign for a holiday park. It was a revelation that not all clients were looking for picture perfect models. Frustratingly, some clients would even say, ‘We didn’t want a model’ and that’s when we decided to rebrand and introduce our ’Talk to the Talent’ campaign.

Considering your deep connection to the North East and its people, how do you incorporate the essence of the region into the culture and ethos of TTM Management? 

The spirit of the North East is all about resilience, authenticity, and community, and that’s exactly what we strive to cultivate at TTM Management. We take pride in our roots and have an unwavering commitment to represent the diversity and talent of our region. We firmly believe in giving back to the community that has given us so much, and we’re always looking for ways to uplift regional talent and showcase the unique charm of the North East. 

Could you share a memorable campaign or project that you feel exemplifies TTM Management’s commitment to diversity and exciting initiatives within the region? 

Our most treasured campaigns are those where we join forces with clients like Parkdean Resorts, a renowned National Holiday brand.

Together, we intentionally scout for diverse talent of all backgrounds, ages, sizes, and abilities. This approach not only mirrors the rich diversity of our community and clientele but also defies conventional beauty norms. We celebrate inclusivity at every turn, a value that really does form the bedrock of TTM Management’s ethos and where it all started nearly 30 years ago!

The reaction we receive is usually one of overwhelming positivity. There’s nothing quite like the pride we feel when we watch our talent share their stories and inspire others.

What has been your proudest achievement in the journey of TTM Management? 

Lesley Lister TTM Management

There have been many proud moments in our journey, but seeing our talent featured on billboards and TV commercials worldwide is certainly a crowning achievement. It’s a testament to our hard work, dedication, and the exceptional talent we represent. Every time I see one of our talents achieving their dreams, I’m reminded of why I started TTM Management and the impact we’re making in the industry. 

What are some key lessons you’ve learned throughout your journey with TTM Management? 

One of the most important lessons I’ve learned is the importance of continually pushing boundaries in the industry. It’s about challenging the status quo, embracing diversity, and advocating for fair representation.

Another key insight is the significance of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. Running a business can be all-consuming, but it’s crucial to take time for self-care and family.

Lastly, I’ve learned that success is a journey, not a destination. There will be ups and downs, but it’s all part of the growth process. And it’s good to keep smiling! 

How do you maintain a work-life balance while overseeing the operations of a successful and dynamic agency like yours? 

I’ve set a rule for myself – weekends are strictly for family. Of course, there are exceptions, but whenever work spills into my personal time, I ensure to compensate with time off. 

You’ve recently moved into a new office on the Quayside and celebrated 30 years in the business. What’s next for your business?

We’re looking forward to setting up a live streaming facility in our new studio to showcase talent to prospective clients globally and continue nurturing relationships with our existing clients. The future is bright for TTM Management! Ask me again in 30 years how we’ve done!