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Hickey Spurs Creative Velocity

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Lisa Hickey has joined the list of notable creative executives trying their luck with startups.

Hickey, who has worked at several agencies of note during the past 15 years, dubbed her firm Velocity Advertising.

"I think I can do a better job than anyone else" in the marketplace and deliver creatively driven advertising of national caliber, Hickey said.

Hickey is the startup's sole owner and she currently employs about a dozen staffers. In February, Hickey will move the business from Boston's Park Plaza building to the top two floors of a 19th century mansion at 306 Dartmouth St. in the city's Back Bay district.

Not content with the boutique model, Hickey intends to offer full-service capabilities to clients regardless of their geographic location. She hopes to employ about 30 people by the close of 2001.

At present, Velocity works for some half-dozen clients on a project basis, including The First Years, a maker of infant toys and related merchandise, and LingoMotors, a pro-vider of Web search products. Also, Velocity is in late-stage "negotiations with a major national TV client," and Hickey hopes to finalize the contract in the next few weeks, she said.

Hickey, an art director, left Boston's Heater Advertising (since renamed Red) last year to freelance; as she picked up more work, the idea to form her own shop took root. She had spent about a year as Heater's creative director. Prior to that, she worked at various Boston agencies, including Arnold Worldwide and Holland Mark Advertising.

"It's a great time for startups," said Modernista! general manager Mary Davenport, a former co-worker of Hickey's. "I definitely think there's space" for more smaller shops to succeed, she said. Formed one year ago, Boston's Modernista! works for the Gap, GM's Hummer and MTV. A profusion of new, smaller firms "helps to re-establish Boston as a national player on all levels," said Marc Gallucci, who left Arnold and form Fort Franklin, Boston.

Hickey ranks a spot she helped create in 1995 while at Hill, Holliday among her finest achievements. The ad, featuring lightbulbs floating above people's heads, helped introduce Lotus Notes and is in the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art. Freelancing for Arnold this spring, she worked on the lauded Massachusetts anti-smoking ads featuring Rick Stoddard, who lost his wife Marie to lung cancer.