A tumultuous summer of racial unrest prompted by the deaths of George Floyd, Breanna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, and more, ignited Taylar Barrington-Booker to create an influencer management company that advocates for Black creators.
As founder and head of partnerships of Agency Cliquish, Barrington-Booker is making waves within the influencer marketing industry.
The 2011 FAMU School of Journalism & Graphic Communication (SJGC or also known as “J-School”), alumna was recently featured in Essence Magazine for her agency’s work in securing equitable pay and opportunities for Black influencers. This marks the second time she’s been spotlighted in the national publication.
“It’s truly an honor,” Barrington-Booker says of being featured in Essence.
“I remember being in J-School on a Saturday morning when nobody was there editing photos for Essence Magazine,” she says, reminiscing of her internship with the publication. “Then being featured in it is truly just a full circle moment. It really brings me to tears.”
After being inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement, Barrington-Booker launched Agency Cliquish in 2021. Through negotiating brand deals and partnerships, the agency empowers Black creators by assisting them in “overcoming obstacles and effortlessly reaching their aspirations, while fighting for fair compensation and brand accountability.”
In the marketing and advertising realm, companies utilize influencers for increased visibility to sell their products and services.
“I wanted to use my business acumen and how I saw the world to be able to influence the creatives in this space. I decided to niche down.”
Her industry insights and proximity to creators gave her a “strong 360 understanding” of the journey and unique challenges Black influencers faced within their careers.
“I got to have a lot of transparent conversations about what issues they were facing, especially Black influencers, and understanding the lack of guidance, information, equitable pay, inclusion, and opportunities,” she said. “Knowing the skillset that I had, I felt like I was doing a disservice not moving into this space.”
In what was called a “summer of racial reckoning,” brands rushed to diversify their campaigns in efforts to appear to stand in solidarity with the social, economic, and political movement.
A 2021 study led by the public relations firm, MSL, in partnership with The Influencer League, revealed that the racial pay gap between white and Black influencers is 35%.
“Other things we were seeing was performative diversity,” she says. “Brands would include Black talent in a way that checked a box, but wasn’t necessarily inclusive, thoughtful or equitable in some ways.”
Another aspect of the Agency Cliquish is holding brands accountable as they navigate, for some of them, new relationships with Black talent.
“A lot of what happens in this space is people hire people they know,” she says. “Being able to have a partner like us helps them gain visibility to thought leaders in our space and the verticals they’re looking to cast in.”
Barrington-Booker says she’s had many proud moments since the agency’s launch, like surpassing their first $1 million in partnership deals, developing a talent roster with a reach of nearly nine million, collaborating with other FAMU alumni for their digital launch on Juneteenth, and ushering in a new generation of Black wealth “through our own creative currency.”
“Now I’m able to do that advocacy every day to make sure they’re included, seen, compensated fairly,” she says.
Barrington-Booker credits much of her career success to the education and experiences she had at FAMU and within SJGC.
“I felt like when I got to school I was completely lost with what my trajectory looked like until I found J-School,” she says. “I walked in and had this experience of ‘this is where I’m supposed to be.’”
She spent time within the theater and business programs, respectively, before landing at SJGC.
Drawn to the many opportunities available at SJGC, she became a graphic communication major. As she completed courses, she became exposed to the public relations and journalism industries.
Outside of the classroom, Barrington-Booker was deeply involved in the student media outlets and held editor positions with The Famuan and Journey Magazine. She also interned with Essence, Ebony, and was also one of four students selected to travel to Washington, D.C to cover Barack Obama’s presidential election in 2008.
Her legacy on the Hill transcends the walls of SJGC. She’s a third generation FAMU alumni, served as the 2011 Queen of Orange and Green, and is also a graduate of the School of Business and Industry’s MBA program.
“When I think about the trajectory of my career, J-School did a couple of things,” she says. “It allowed me to not feel fear when it came to doing things outside of my comfort zone. All of the internships, connections and people that I knew within the industry really set me up for success on the front end of my career,” she says.
She credits former SJGC professors like Dr. Yenela Gordon and Laura Downey for helping her ensure she had a job upon graduation. She worked with Gannett with the The Tennessean, taught graphic communication skills to high school students with special needs. After teaching, she transitioned into entrepreneurship.