According to the founders, they bet on themselves — and it turns out they were right. Armed with a long list of creative collaborators, a stash of bold ideas and a total disregard for the traditional agency model, The Bread was born.
They add that as The Bread celebrates its 10th birthday, no one is more surprised by its success than the founders themselves.
"Every time someone asks me how it feels to own a business, I always say, "Every year I think we'll probably have to close, and we just never do"," says Poulos.
So, how does one build a lasting agency doing things you believe in with people you love working with?
In this case, it all starts with chaos, says The Bread. In the early days, they were fueled by grit and passion but, as Berry puts it, the way they organised things was "horrific".
Despite this, a few brave clients saw something worth believing in and put their trust in the barely-off-the-ground three-person agency. Berry has set a reminder to send these folks a thank-you card or two, The Bread says.
According to the founders, their clients' faith in them wasn't just the kickstart they needed; it was an important lesson in paying it forward. From mentoring young talent to collaborating with up-and-coming creatives, Berry and Poulos have always made it a priority to leave the ladder down behind them.
"It's hard to believe that an idea that started off with the intention of only ever having three people in the team now has thirteen," Poulos says.
The agency says in those early days, The Bread was more about doing and learning than picking and choosing. Projects that would probably get a 'thanks, but no thanks' today were the gigs that paved the way forward.
"People are often so picky about the work they want to do; they forget about the work that actually gets them there," says Berry. "Making work that people care about means you have to care about it and the process of making it, no matter how small the job might seem."
In retrospect, every project was a masterclass in hustle, creativity and agility. According to the agency, those early crash courses are exactly what positioned The Bread to become the multidisciplinary agency it is today — and the work they do now is a testament to the trust they've built with their clients, collaborators and team over the years.
The Bread kicked off 2022 with the SKYY®
Moments Series, a collaboration that saw them partner with local creatives like photographer and creative director Aart Verrips and stylist Obakeng Rantlhane.
Later that year, the agency worked with fashion designer Wanda Lephoto and BULLDOG Gin to showcase Lephoto's collection at Milan Fashion Week.
2022 also saw The Bread work on:
- the Levi's® 'Curvy' campaign
- the Vans Duct Tape Surf Festival, and
- the Vans 'Classic Since Forever' campaign launch.
In 2023, The Bread undertook some of its most ambitious projects yet with Spotify Presents In Black & White: Wall of Legends at Cottonfest and Reebok's Back Like We Never Left event.
Reflecting on the breadth of the agency's projects, Poulos says, "Looking through 10 years of snaps makes me realise just how far we've come, and I'm proud to say the quality of our work has only gone from strength to strength."
Berry believes The Bread's success all boils down to a groundbreaking strategy: saying thanks and giving a damn about people. He believes that people are more important than anything else, says the agency.
"No matter how tricky the situation or how big the mistake, at the end of the day we're all humans. It's never wrong to be nice to people and try to understand where they're coming from," concludes Berry.
Turns out that when you believe in what you do and are good to people, they'll want to work with you again and again and again. Who knew?