2 Minutes With … Katie Keating and Erica Fite, Co-CCOs at Fancy
Katie Keating and Erica Fite are founding partners and co-chief creative officers of Fancy LLC, a strategically minded, creatively driven advertising agency dedicated to elevating what's important to women.
Before founding Fancy, Katie and Erica were among a handful of female creative leads at global agencies including Publicis, McCann, Grey, Lowe and Saatchi, and in-house for Clinique. Lauded creative campaigns for Lion's Den, pH-D Feminine Health, Procter & Gamble, Henkel, Unilever and more all bear their hallmark cheeky, honest and raw style of thoughtful work, delivered with a wink.
Erica and Katie are feminist, feminine and fun. In a word: Fancy. We spent two minutes with them to learn more about their backgrounds, creative inspirations, and recent work they've admired.
Katie and Erica, tell us...
Where you grew up, and where you live now.
- Katie: I grew up in a rural area outside of Chicago. I've been in Brooklyn for over 25 years, but I still don't consider myself a New Yorker.
- Erica: Grew up on an island a stone's throw from Seattle. Today I live in NYC.
What you wanted to be when you grew up.
- Katie: An astronaut because zero-gravity seemed really fun.
- Erica: My cliché dream to be a princess was crushed when my dad said no-go because he wasn't a king. My drive to be a princess was led by a vision of riding a fantastic white horse, so I switched my dream career to cowgirl, with a Dr. Doolittle-ish side job.
How you discovered you were creative.
- Katie: I never really did the actual assignment at school. I was always looking for the alternative, a way to make it more meaningful. My teachers explained to my parents, with a shake of their heads, "she's very ... creative."
- Erica: I made most of my own funky clothes starting at 9 years old. But I didn't realize I was creative until the night I couldn't sleep and made a "really cool" coat out of the blanket on my bed, which outraged my mom because it was a "really good" wool blanket. Side note, my mom wore that coat for years.
A person you idolized creatively growing up.
- Katie: My mom had a wonderful sense of fashion and fun and flowers. I'm jealous I don't have her knack for accessories or her green thumb!
- Erica: My grandmother, who was born at the turn of the century, left tiny Muskogee, Oklahoma, as a teen to play piano in NYC, ran the League of Women Voters in her area near Seattle, drank one martini and did 100 ab crunches every day until her death at 98. And best of all, called herself a witch. (Her signature was actually a witch's face and hat profile. ;)
A moment from high school or college that changed your life.
- Katie: I was among the first set of girls to participate in the country's only high school exchange program with schools in Africa. The cultural immersion in Kenya helped me appreciate different lived experiences and grew my desire to see the world from as many points of view as possible.
- Erica: Taking "a break" from college to move to L.A. to pursue acting was certainly life-changing and character building and totally painful and pretty great in some ways and full of situations that made me who I am, which I hope my kids never have to experience. Totally worth it since now I'm a famous actor. Kidding. :)
The first concert you saw, and your favorite band or musician today.
- Katie: John Denver. I saw him with my mom and my sister at this outdoor music place with a giant lawn. I think I may have fallen asleep on the blanket.
- Erica: Blue Oyster Cult. Can't really remember the music. My main memory is meeting a shirtless boy whose hair smelled excellent because he used Body on Tap shampoo. Kudos to Body on Tap advertising of the '70s. Today I lean toward female artists, and when we had an office, our Fancy music of choice was usually vintage-y French chick pop. But the music that I really love is Laszlo Horvath's. Not just because he's my son. :) He's a super talented musician and has recently released a few new albums with his band Laszlo and the Hidden Strength.
A visual artist or band/musician you admire.
- Katie: I've loved quilting since I went to college in the middle of Ohio Amish country, and I especially love the connection between utility and beauty and history—all sewn together. Today, though, I'm pretty into Chawne Kimber. Her way with color is hypnotic, but when she mixes text and culture with her quilts, the work will stop you in your tracks
- Erica: I've been obsessed with Hilma af Klint since the Guggenheim show. (Another witch perhaps?) One of my latest discoveries is Ninni Luhtasaari, a Finnish artist who has taken embroidery to a whole new galaxy. And I totally love the work of my son Laszlo, a recent Cooper Union graduate in visual art!
A book, movie, TV show or podcast you recently found inspiring.
- Katie: I've gone to see Generation Women a few times and really enjoyed it. It's a storytelling event where women in their 20s, 30s, 40s, 50s, 60s, 70s+ each tell a story around a common theme. It's wonderful to see how a person's perception of her life changes over the ages, and I always leave in some way changed.
- Erica: Jojo Rabbit. The combination of innocence, evil, love and humor is perfection. I laughed, I cried. Not to mention the beautiful, detailed art direction.
Your favorite fictional character.
- Katie: Holly Golightly. Beautiful. Elegant. And really knows how to throw a party.
- Erica: The heroine in a book called The Silver Crown that I read as a kid. She was a "normal" girl who had to deal with the mysterious loss of her family, running through a forest to escape unidentified scary people, and a bunch of other madness. She found super bravery and kindness that could triumph over the strange evil empire. And of course, she had a crown. That book still haunts me for some reason.
Someone or something worth following in social media.
- Erica: Ninni Luhtasaari.
How the Covid-19 crisis has changed your life, personally or professionally.
- Katie: My brother died of Covid-19 and that was pretty devastating. That makes the rest of the changes, difficult as they may be, just kind of something to get through.
- Erica: I can't even begin to express how terrible I feel for Katie and so many others who lost loved ones during this time. It's affected all of us. For me, the silver lining to all of this has been getting to know my new blended family, the seven of us plus my father-in-law in one house, a few condensed months together that could never be replaced by years of "normal" life.
One of your favorite creative projects you've ever worked on.
- Katie: It would have to be Lion's Den! Taking a stand for women's sexual health and pleasure helped transform that brand and business as well as our own.
- Erica: Lion's Den.
A recent project you're proud of.
- Katie: Hair Biology's launch campaign really turned haircare advertising on its head. Instead of focusing on undesirable aspects of aging—fine lines, gray hairs, and gravitational pull—we shifted the conversation to the many enviable signs and attributes of age, like confidence, knowledge and achievement. And we did it with real women who absolutely radiated the beauty of age.
- Erica: pH-D Feminine Health because the campaign unabashedly works to destigmatize the "taboo" subject of vaginal odor, and I'm not sure what is considered more hush-hush than that.
Someone else's work that inspired you years ago.
- Katie: Janet Champ and Charlotte Moore and the groundbreaking work they did for Nike Women. They were a powerful female creative team, and they taught me that when you're on the side of the consumer, when you're rooting for her, when you're excited for the difference your product or brand can make, that's when the magic happens.
- Erica: The early Nike Girl work because I felt like they were describing me. The writing was like nothing I'd ever read in advertising before. The fact that I actually read the copy is saying a lot, too.
Someone else's work you admired lately.
- Erica: "Signal for Help" by the Canadian Women's Foundation. It is a genius idea, giving people experiencing domestic violence a way out that is undetectable by perpetrators. It really caught on with social media and celebrities and actually saved people. This was especially important during lockdown, when domestic abuse was raging.
Your main strength as a creative person.
- Katie: I'm fascinated by people and what makes them tick. How and why they make the decisions they do.
- Erica: Having had about a million other jobs before getting into advertising has given me a wealth of experience to draw from.
Your biggest weakness.
- Katie: Starting. Staring at that blank screen. Begging and bargaining with myself to get going. Wondering if I've got it in me. Doubting everything. Also, I eat a lot of sugary, fruity candy when concepting.
- Erica: My inability to multitask.
One thing that always makes you happy.
- Katie: Babies laughing.
- Erica: Dancing.
One thing that always makes you sad.
- Katie: Poverty.
- Erica: The destruction of our home, Earth.
What you'd be doing if you weren't in advertising.
- Katie: Working in a house museum with a specialty in Victorian domestic arts.
- Erica: I'd be a homeless actor.