NEW YORK, USA // Born in Brooklyn and educated at Atlanta’s prestigious Morehouse College, Coltrane Curtis has made a career out of being first. He was one of the first employees at the first global streetwear brand Ecko Unlimited long before urban fashion was taken seriously (and before the brand was valued at over $200 million). He was the first to launch and run Complex magazine, coining the term Editor-at-Extra-Large. He was the first to understand the power that hip hop had in fashion, forging a partnership with 50 Cent to create G-Unit Apparel. He was the first MTV Style VJ and lead all the coverage of the network’s red carpets and fashion news. Most significantly, he was the first person to retreat from a world of celebrity pomp and circumstance to pursue a real-world business goal.
Inspired by his father, who started one of the first black-owned advertising agencies in American history, Coltrane sought out to redefine a landscape fraught with brand speak that didn’t pay respect to the consumer and companies that thought celebrity was more powerful than the network that actually serves to create it. So, in 2004, Coltrane Curtis started the first modern influencer agency: Team Epiphany.
Since founding Team Epiphany in 2004, Coltrane has led the company from a nomadic boutique agency with less than five employees to an award-winning powerhouse with one of the industry’s most diverse staffs of 75+ employees, offices in NYC and LA, and a roster of Fortune 500 clients including AirBnB, American Express, Apple, Audi, Coca-Cola, HBO, Glenfiddich, Hendrick’s Gin, Rémy Martin, JBL, and more.
Today, Team Epiphany is celebrating over 19-years of being an independent, culture-first marketing agency under the leadership of Coltrane and his wife (and Co-Managing Partner at Team Epiphany) Lisa Chu. The company was recently named as an Ad Age Small Agency of the Year and as an Experiential Agency of the Year. In addition to his trailblazing work at the agency, Coltrane has been a leader in the industry as a driving force for increased diversity & inclusion, culture and community in marketing & advertising, and is frequently touted by leading publications like Adweek, Forbes, Hypebeast, GQ, Wired, and many more.
Coltrane and Lisa live in Dumbo, Brooklyn with their two sons Ellington and Count. He still looks forward to another decade and a half of firsts.