It seems fitting for Taryn Williams that she would learn to fly a plane at the young age of fifteen, the exact same age she stepped out into the world and began her modelling career. Naturally, she’s been soaring ever since and is truly a breath of fresh air as a young entrepreneur, client and someone I now call a friend. She is smart, vivacious and magnetically personable. Taryn is the Founder and Managing Director of WINK Models, a leading Australian commercial modelling agency now in its 9th year of operation. At the same time as this interview she is also preparing to launch THERIGHT.FIT, a marketplace that directly connects talent with clients, a digital platform that is sure to disrupt the industry.
Born in the Barossa Valley, South Australia, Taryn’s work ethic has always been extraordinary and she occupies the tenacity of a natural leader. I admire the way she does business – resilient, determined, always professional and courteous.
Following on from my one on one with Kerry ‘Chika’ Chikarovski, I sit down with Taryn as a part of my Know Your Client series to reveal some of the wonderful unknowns around this vibrant powerhouse of a woman.
Acutely aware of opportunity, Taryn seems to have always had her finger on the pulse, even from a young age.
“I lived in Suva, Fiji, for eight years growing up, which really prompted me to become more interested in the world around me and develop a more rounded life perspective. I was really lucky as a child. My parents are really progressive parents and they allowed us to explore the world as individuals and make decisions on our own.”
Her eternal curiosity seems to have encouraged many decisions in Taryn’s life, including deciding to leave uni when she was offered an opportunity to model in Korea. “The university said they’d fail me on attendance, regardless of me passing all my exams. In the end, I had to make a choice about where I thought my future was going to go and I couldn’t pass up this amazing life lesson and opportunity.”
As we all know, entrepreneurs are essentially problem solvers, and Taryn is nothing short of this definition. Taryn started WINK because she wanted to improve the existing landscape with an agency that provided clients with a higher quality service while providing a fair and supportive environment for talent.
“One thing that stood out to me was the inefficiencies of the existing agencies. Models weren’t getting paid for six months after a job, there was no support or union and I saw hundreds of young people unsure of the trajectory of their careers. This created a negative relationship between agencies and models. I knew if I was smart about it and worked hard myself – then we would all win.”
Taryn is a strong believer in more support for women in business alongside an advocate for better working conditions in Australia that are supported by government policy.
“It’s so integral that we encourage girls to be able to choose different professions, particularly in the science and technology spaces. At a corporate level it’s also important to provide education and over compensate to some extent to get women into senior positions so it does trickle down over time.”
When Taryn first approached me, I knew she meant business. She was interested in a 3 month publicity campaign for WINK Models. To achieve results we worked to develop some strong angles to get the media to sit up and pay attention to a ‘modelling agency’. Seeing the potential for Taryn’s personal brand, I suggested a dual PR strategy i.e. one for the business and one that put the focus on Taryn as an individual success story. We are still working together 12 months later and Taryn is now a regular contributor to leading publications including SmartCompany and Business Insider Australia.
She has also been recognised for her achievements including being named a Finalist for the 2015 Female Entrepreneur Awards, B&T Hot 30 under 30 and previously in the SmartCompany hot 30 under 30. WINK now has head offices in Sydney, Melbourne and Brisbane with 650 talent nationwide and an annual turnover of $4million.
“Don’t sweat the small stuff, and don’t lose sleep over the small details. Make a decision, move on and don’t worry about things that might not have a huge knock on effect.
There will never a be a good time or the perfect time to start a business; if you have an idea just start.
You just have to trust your own gut and passion and give it a shot. I guarantee you you’ll admire yourself so much more for having done that than nothing at all.”
If you’d like to learn more about Taryn you can do so here.