Take 5 With...Taryn Williams, Founder The Right.Fit & Wink Models
So what does it take to run two successful businesses? Taryn Williams shares her journey to success and her top five tips for flourishing entrepreneurs...
As anyone who has launched their own business can attest, turning a dream into reality takes every ounce of strength, determination, grit and unwavering belief in yourself and your idea - every single day!
This is indeed true for Taryn Williams, who at just 30 years of age, not only runs WINK Models (which she has done for the past 9 years) but is also the founder of theright.fit, a disruptive new platform that directly connects clients with talent including photographers, brands, influencers, models and other creatives.
Here we chat exclusively to the savvy (and stylish!) business woman about the road to success - including the hurdles, disrupting the creative industry with the launch of theright.fit and her top tips to start-ups and entrepreneurs. Of course we also get the low-down on her beauty and fashion must-haves.
Tell us about yourself and how you came to start WINK Models and now The Right.Fit
I’ve always been in the creative industry, and truly do love it. I began modelling myself at 15, and got to travel the world and have some incredible experiences and work with some of the most talented and inspiring people. I moved into production (events and advertising photography) at 19, and loved connecting people and producing large scale campaigns. I recognised there were so many inefficiencies and inequalities in the industry, that didn’t seem to make sense to me. Why did it take months for talent to be paid? Why wouldn’t agencies embrace technology to expedite the booking and casting process? And with the blissful naivety of youth, I launched WINK Models in 2007.
What was the catalyst for launching theright.fit
After building tech products for WINK to allow that business to scale (we have 650+ models Australia wide), I fell in love with solving problems using technology and learning new skills in this area. I could see there were so many new pain points in the industry that we could solve using technology – the advent of social media influencers and brands wanting to connect with them, the volume of digital content being produced and associated budgets, and the diversity of talent required in advertising changing. That sparked the idea for a market network that connected clients and creative talent, directly.
When you decided to launch theright.fit, did you ever worry about the fall out from going up against traditional talent agencies?
Disruption is never comfortable, in any industry. I truly believe that we need to innovate, or risk becoming the incumbent without relevance anymore. I believe there will always be a place for full service agencies, but I believe theright.fit really does put the power back in the hands of the people it belongs to – the talent and the clients. It’s a simpler, more efficient, more cost effective process in which both parties win. For me, the industry should see the positives in that.
What hurdles have you had to overcome being a start-up business?
There are so many hurdles you have to overcome in starting a business. Everything from learning how to delegate, creating culture in a team, raising capital, managing cash flow, managing teams that are dispersed globally… It’s a constant learning experience and daily challenge to be better and get over each hurdle at a time.
How does it feel to be regarded as one of Australia’s top your female entrepreneurs? Did you always imagine this is where your career would take you?
Oh gosh – I don’t know that I think of myself as that! But it’s very flattering, thank you. There are some incredible women doing amazing things in Australia at the moment, and its really inspiring to be around them and on this journey with them. I certainly could never have imagined the route my career would take, but it is really nice that all the sacrifices along the way do pay off eventually!
Who are your mentors?
I have some amazing mentors, and am lucky to have had a variety of them over the years who play different roles in my life. One was from a advertising industry background, and really helped shape my first few formative years when I started WINK. One is now a CTO/CIO, and has really helped me in learning how to run and scale into a high growth tech company. The other is a founder of a international sports brand and has helped me understand a lot about business with purpose, and thinking globally form day one. Their support over the years has been invaluable.
Working to the point of burnout is a challenge for most start ups - what are your tips for working smarter not harder?
I’m definitely the wrong person to ask on this one!! I believe you have to work smart and hard I’m afraid! I work long hours and weekends, but I do this because I love it, and it allows me to really grow my companies and also taking on speaking engagements and charity/not-for-profit projects.
That said, I am incredibly ruthless with my time and what I spend it on. I allocate time to each item in my diary, schedule out my day so I am clear what I am working on, and have a daily stand up with my team so I can keep abreast of whats in the pipeline.
Many people let the fear of failure stop them from trying something new or launching their own business – what is your take on the concept of failure?
I naturally have a pretty healthy appetite for risk, and have of course had my failures along the way! Failure is where the learning happens – its about using those experiences to shape you, and challenge how you would do things next time. Failure is only a problem if you don’t learn anything from it or let it paralyse you from moving forward.
What’s your top five tips to fellow entreprenuers or startup businesses?
1. Be a morning person – I get my best work done from 6.30am-8am before anyone else hits the office.
2. Love what you do – if you don’t, get out now. Because you’re going to be doing a LOT of it.
3. Just get started – there’s never a right time, so you may as well start now, rather than die wondering!
4. Get a mentor – an independent sounding board who you trust, who can hold you accountable, and provide guidance and support
5. If you’re the smartest person in the room, youre in the wrong room – hire people better and smarter than you and are going to inspire you on your journey.
What drives you to succeed?
Solving problems – I love seeing projects come to fruition and breaking down what seems a complex task, uniting the right people and elements around it, and seeing a successful outcome.
What are some of your greatest achievements to date?
This answer has probably changed as I’ve got older! I’m really really proud of the incredible team I have built, and having two thriving beautiful companies with great culture and values.
I’m of course also really proud of some of the awards and nominations I’ve had like Smart Company Hot 30 under 30, B&T Women In Media Entrepreneur of the year, Anthil Top 100 Coolest Companies, Optus My Business Awards, Women's Agenda Leadership Awards etc.
Social media is a powerful marketing tool– what are your top tips for building an organic following, and using it as a platform to grow a business?
You have to be authentic. You can't be contrived in what you share, or you’ll alienate people. Tell your true story. That’s what people identify with and want to connect with. Of course, there’s the practical tips like posting regularly, at peak times, and being organised in the content you post.
What keeps you motivated to hit your career goals?
My team really inspire me – they’re constantly challenging me to be better, do better, and look to solve problems in a different way. I’m also really inspired by my mentors – being around people who have walked this path before you and have so much knowledge and wisdom to share is really inspiring.
What items do you treasure most?
My Cartier love bracelet that holds a lot of special memories and the neon light artwork that was a gift for my 30th birthday from a very dear friend.
What beauty products can’t you live without?
What are some of your fave podcasts / books?
I love listening to TED talks – Brene Brown and Stefan Sagmeister are probably my favourites. I’m a huge fan of anything by Hunter S Thompson, and secretly addicted to watching re-runs of The West Wing. [Aaron] Sorkin is an absolute genius.
How would you describe your style?
Minimalist, modern, monochrome and classic. I don’t do trends.
How do you unwind?
I’ll admit, I’m not great at switching off, and I’m pretty hopeless on holidays – I’m always itching to get back and sink my teeth into a project. I really enjoy hitting the gym, yin yoga, or going for a long walk around the harbour beaches, and absolutely love reading the newspapers over a long breakfast on Sunday.
Are you a bag or shoe girl?
Both! You can never have too many shoes and handbags… that’s why I work so hard!