Meet Our Mavericks :: Tess Robinson :: Smack Bang Designs
Her boyfriend once said that she’d be either retired or dead at age 30, and we reckon he had it just about right. As the Founder of not one, not two, but three rockin businesses Tess Robinson – Founder + Creative Director of Smack Bang Designs is as fearless as she is gracious, and throws herself 100% wholeheartedly into every creative project in front of her. With the launch of her latest baby First Flight Studios she’s disrupted yet another industry, bringing fresh, affordable website options to budding creative entrepreneurs. This woman inspires the pants off us, so we dug a little deeper into the journey she’s taken…
OC: Million dollar question – what do you guys DO?
TR: We are a modern design agency which favours fresh over formulaic and breaks all the rules. We are the enablers, inspiring and collaborating with likeminded folk to create a ripple effect of positive change throughout the world. We design good, for the greater good.
OC: What’s your definition of success?
TR: Success is doing what you love, and building a lifestyle around that. It is about being yourself and being rewarded for who you are. It is about life, love and in my opinion, chooks (when I have chooks in the backyard, I’ll know I’ve made it!)
OC: Now we get real. What have you had to trade, to sacrifice, to do what you love everyday?
TR: Phewwwf, that list is long! The most major would be time. I have invested copious amounts of time into this baby of mine. Which means sacrificing time with loved ones, time catching up with old friends, time to make new friends, time to choose healthy over convenient, time to go to yoga, time with my partner and time to sit at home in my underwear. And whilst we’re at it, I’ve forgotten my Dad’s birthday a couple of times too, I’ll take the opportunity to blame that on being a successful entrepreneur.
Thinking about starting your own agency? Download this Business Plan for Creatives.
OC: When you have your quiet moments, what makes you feel genuinely happy?
TR: Knowing that the people I care most about are happy and healthy. As well as the less important things like dancing like a hooligan, working in bare feet, hopping into clean sheets and dipping my sleepy head in the morning ocean.
OC:Share a moment that felt like, “YES I’m winning!”
TR: Oh, that’s a hard one there have been many! One of the most exciting high points though, was going on my first holiday sans laptop. Knowing that my team had my back and that despite my fear mongering imagination, the business wouldn’t actually combust without me.
OC:Now share a moment that felt like, “Why am I doing this again?”
TR: I’d say it’s a fairly common lowpoint for many business owners. I desperately needed to hire someone, but thought I wasn’t able to afford it. I worked 7080 hour weeks, fulfilling 3 fulltime roles myself and not doing any of them very well. I was spreading myself so thinly, my head felt like it was going to explode, my to do list was longer than my leg, my stress levels were spiralling out of control. I was so far deep that crying wasn’t even an option. My business suffered, my health suffered and my relationships suffered.
OC: What did you need to know to get out of there?
TR: I needed to get clear on my financials. Figure out that I really could afford to bring someone on, and that in fact, it was so ridiculous that I was putting myself through hell for the sake of saving money. I now know, that nothing is worth that amount of self-inflicted torture.
OC: What’s your coffee religion and how do you worship?
TR: Coffee is like a seriously hard drug for me and my poor little nervous system. I do the world a favour by sticking to tea.
OC:What kick ass daily habits do you have that would make Tim Ferris jealous?
TR: The usual; meditation, exercise and eating well. As well as a weekly Wednesday Night Wine Night with my lover.
OC: What’s you secret sauce for generating new ideas?
TR: The more space I have in my mind, the more space there is for new ideas. I try to keep the upstairs noggin clean and tidy so that amazing things can walk in that door. This means meditating regularly and letting things go easily.
OC: If you could do it all over again, what would you do differently?
TR: To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I was super young when I started the business (22yrs old), and did so straight out of university. Everything was new, (I mean really new), and I threw myself in the deep end, made a truckload of mistakes and learned lessons really fast. Part of me knows that I bit off more than I could chew, but none of me regrets that.
You should always bite off more than you can chew, just make sure you have a plan in place. Download our Business Plan for Creatives!
OC: If you had one shot to give one piece of advice to budding entrepreneurs, what would it be?
TR: Be pragmatic. If you face a problem, deal with it straight away. Deal with it in a calm state. And deal with it so well that it never shows its ugly mug ever again.
OC: 3 words that describe you?
TR: Determined, Strongwilled, Ambitious… and maybe a little bit Wild.
OC: What an absolute powerhouse, thanks Tess!
Now, if you think you’re ready to go pro and turn those design skills into your own freelance business and/or agency…