We chat with girl boss Tess Robinson from Smack Bang Designs about her day-to-day and the 14 caffeine-high crazies in the team! Tess talks about setting the right vibes for the day with some sweet tunes, dedicating time to finding your groove, and her dream lifestyle – spending mornings at the beach and arvos at the desk – sounds good to me! Plus – check out their new e-book Calling the Shots
Tell us a bit about yourself and the studio that you work for. As the sole owner and Creative Director of Smack Bang Designs, I keep myself busy overseeing the creative process, driving business development, offering inspiration and generally keeping all things smooth sailing. Officially, my job is to make business decisions and give creative criticism.
But really? I spend most of my days dreaming up new and outlandish ideas, hanging with a bunch of really fun peeps, creating cool content for our comms projects, styling up our studio space, looking over my designers’ shoulders in awe, connecting with cool people for collaborations and watering our mini-jungle. But mostly, just watering our mini jungle.
My life has no shortage of love, and is full of adventure, creativity and chaos. With a few businesses on the go, my world is never dull. I love my life and I love what I do.
What does a typical working day include for you right now? Each and every day is different and comes with its own to-do’s, but these days I’m the master of my own time and can choose how I want to spend my day which is very liberating after years of being chained to my desk slogging it out. Whether at the studio or in my home office, I’m all about setting the right vibes for the day ahead, so I spend the first portion chatting away with my crew, selecting the right playlist and fetching a coffee from my local haunt. Only then do I approach the lengthy list of tasks waiting to be tackled. The course of the day may include new client meetings, marketing activities or brainstorming the next big move – it’s always varied, always challenging and always exciting!
Who’s on the team, what are their roles and why do you love them? Our team is a collection of 14 caffeine-high crazies. They are the most committed, talented and treasured team who understand the vision of the business and bring their A game to work every day. Together we share a love for design, a knack for bad jokes and far too many 3pm sweets. They are a collective of designers, developers, strategic thinkers and master organisers. Each of them bring a unique skill and flair to the team, and they make going to work each day an absolute pleasure. These are the legends that help me to create my vision and are like family to me.
What advice would you give students starting out? Take every opportunity thrown your way and soak up as much learning as you possibly can. Steve Jobs summed it up well with, “stay hungry, stay foolish”. I couldn’t agree more! The most successful people I know spent their younger years being playful, experimental, hungry for knowledge and willing to put themselves in situations well out of their comfort zone to find their groove.
I think above all, it’s important to dedicate a huge amount of time to finding your groove – this might take a good chunk of your adult life, and that’s okay. Finding where you flourish is the most satisfying achievement ever. When you love where you work and each day you’re excited to get up and go to work, you’ll be happy, kicking goals and most likely, producing your best work.
What qualities and skills to you look for in a graduate? The Smack Bang team operates like a family – we are close-knit and a little cuckoo. Finding the right fit is my greatest challenge and my biggest achievement. I look for people who have the same fundamental values as the rest of the pack – people that are genuine, down to earth, have a zest for fun and are insanely passionate about what they do. We hire people with a consideration for the differences in each other and those excited to embrace new ways of thinking. I look for people with grit, humility and a willingness to roll up their sleeves and get it done. I’m also a huge advocate for people with a splash of fun and an air of positivity. If you attack all situations with positivity and don’t take yourself too seriously, you will bring out the best in those around you.
What’s on the cards professionally and personally in the next 12 months? Smack Bang is slowly but surely becoming a well oiled machine that operates almost seamlessly. Over the last few years, we’ve worked hard at refining our systems, fine-tuning our marketing and cultivating a brilliant work culture to allow us to approach each day with ease, grace and space for creativity. As a business, we are more focused, inspired and busier than ever, so I want to keep that alive and continue to help my team grow and thrive.
With the business going from strength to strength, I’m slowly regaining a huge chunk of my personal life back! My partner and I are looking to move out of the city in the next couple of months and retreating to a slower pace of life down the coast. I’m looking forward to spending mornings at the beach and arvos at my desk.
2017 for you in a sentence. Big, beautiful and full of ease, fluidity and growth. (So far, so good!)