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Changing the modelling industry for the better

This week, your Friday Entrepreneur Fix features Taryn Williams, the young agency owner determined to improve working conditions in the modelling industry.

After nine years in the modelling business, Taryn Williams had seen it all – the good, the bad and the ugly. She’d enjoyed great personal success but worked long hours for little or no pay and had no union or professional body to turn to for help.

So, in 2007 she established her own agency, WINK, which delivers safe and steady working conditions to models, promotional and experiential marketing talent – something many agencies in the industry haven’t managed to achieve.

Just four years on and Williams represents over 300 models and boasts Qantas, Vodafone, M.A.C. Cosmetics, Sportsgirl and Woolworths as clients. And the best part? Everyone gets paid.

Now the 26-year-old has her sights on the Melbourne market, planning to expand her growing business there in the near future.

What’s the biggest challenge this young entrepreneur has faced as a business owner in the modelling world? Williams shares her insights on running a business in the cutthroat industry with Dynamic Business.

Why do you consider yourself to be an entrepreneur? Are there any entrepreneurs in the modelling industry you look up to?

I’ve always been self employed – whether as a model, promotional ambassador, event manager, or photographic producer, so taking that next step to start my own business has always felt natural to me.

I really admire Shelley Barrett from Model Co. Shelley is a former model agent, and I admire that she’s built Model Co into such a successful, international, well respected brand. The fact that she is a woman, and gorgeous, and has used this along with her business skills to build a brand that women love.

How important was it to you to do things differently to other agencies? Has it been easy to achieve the changes you wanted to?

It was the main reason I started the business, so a very important factor to me. I felt, and still do feel, models and promotional talent deserve the same basic conditions that would be given to any other employee – being paid on time being a key factor.

It’s been easy to achieve as it really works best for all involved – our talent are paid on time and treated well so they are happy to go to work and give 110 percent for our clients, and this means our clients get the absolutely best talent who are excited to be going to work.

Do you think a successful entrepreneur is shaped by their experiences, or just lucky enough to have a great business idea?

I was definitely shaped by my experiences in the industry. From experiencing firsthand the problems in the modeling industry, it spurred me to do it better with WINK.

Having a great business idea and clear plan is of course really important too!

What do you enjoy most about being an entrepreneur?

The challenge! I love that all my hard work and effort directly determines how the business grows. I love seeing the business evolve, grow, and getting feedback from my models and clients about how happy they are. It really makes it all worthwhile.

Any advice for young aspiring entrepreneurs, that you wish someone had given you when you started your business?

Get a good accountant! Actually, on a broader note, to hire people to do the things you’re not skilled at – such as accounting, book keeping, PR etc. It might seem like something worth saving costs on at the time, but it frees you up to do what you are good at – in my case, managing models and keeping my clients happy.

What’s the biggest challenge you’ve faced, and how did you overcome it?

Personally – learning to delegate. I always want to know everything about every job, model, client, event, see every invoice, etc, right down to what kind of shoes the models need to bring.

I’m learning to task delegate and let others take control of things I don’t need to be across, and accept that the world won’t fall apart!