Interview with Yoke’s Managing Director Mehdi

We caught up with our Managing Director and Mentor Mehdi Qerim to chat about the expansion of Yoke, our collaboration with Golden Eye Media and where he sees Yoke heading.

Creative studio Yoke is growing up

Why did you first decide to open Yoke in the heart of Collingwood?
“I’ve been working in Collingwood for over ten years now, both with Yoke and other business ventures, but when I first arrived, it was a totally different area. Collingwood hadn’t fully evolved; it was a little tougher, a little rougher and had far less options by way of dining and bars. It was an inner-city suburb yet to be gentrified, it was very working class. But it was also conveniently close to the city, had great architecture and was full of potential. To be honest, Collingwood has formed around me, coming to emerge as an amazing place to be. People south of the Yarra are now taking the time to come here and really explore Collingwood’s restaurants and bars and galleries. Also, most significantly, we have become a bit of a design centre, with several other agencies popping up and contributing to the creative community.”

What is your vision for Yoke?
“I think the best way to answer that is to make use of a boxing analogy. I have always liked to envisage Yoke as a full-service creative agency able to box outside of its weight division. I love the idea of Yoke being able to box up or down a weight class and still hold its own, on its own merit. As a mid-weight agency, we should be nimble, responsive and humble, capable of spotting the opportunity in both the big and little markets. We offer everything from branding services to graphic design services, web development, social media, video, campaign management, media buying and copywriting. I think, ultimately, I want Yoke to be known for delivering great, all-round creativity, for making its mark as a fresh, young and creative talent.”

Yoke has just moved offices – was there a specific reason for moving?
“We made the move for several reasons. One being that for a long time, Yoke’s potential was unrealised. Sure, we had great staff and great clients, but I felt we didn’t have the space or the time to really foster that potential. For me, this new and beautiful building is a physical realisation of unlocking that possibility and beginning to grow. The move is also a statement of belief. Personally, this move says I believe in Yoke, I believe in the market and I believe in Yoke’s people. And it is just a great working environment, one that feeds a great culture. I believe this is incredibly important, and so this new site, in a way, is a thank you to everyone who has supported Yoke, especially to our staff who are calling it their second home.”

Golden Eye Media are moving into Yoke HQ. What kind of relationship will this be and what does it mean for Yoke?
“Golden Eye Media is a boutique video production house – to match the professional video footage, they also create beautiful editorial content for high-end and high-profile brands. We’ve found the relationship between Yoke and GEM to be completely synergistic, we are very aligned in our business, practice and staffing values. We believe this relationship will be very creatively collaborative… but there is more to come on that front. I might have to keep you posted.”

Where do you see Yoke in the short-term (five years) and in the long-term (10 years and after)?
“In five years, I very much hope we have justified our new expansion and have really turned this building into a thriving headquarters. I’d love for us to be producing work we are proud of and for it to be taking us in the direction of the Sydney and South East Asian markets.”

“In ten years? Well, I’ll be in my fifties, so who really wants to think that far forward? But in reality, I hope Yoke’s put up their sails and are really starting to fly. Again, I hope we have expanded into the fantastic Sydney and SE Asian markets, and beyond. Finally, I would hope that all our staff can look back on their time and view Yoke as a valuable part of their lives, and that the Yoke vision truly meant a lot.”