We had the good fortune of connecting with Emily / Jess Ward / Hunichen and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Emily / Jess, other than deciding to work for yourself, what was the single most important decision you made that contributed to your success?
Our partnership – and an equal split at that. We both worked as independent freelancers at one point in our careers and both knew we could generate business on our own, but when we met and started working together, we quickly realized that working as partners opened up possibilities that we couldn’t nor didn’t want to reach on our own.
This industry is a tough one and growing a business from the start is a steep climb. Having a partner has allowed us to navigate the ups and downs without getting stuck. You need someone to find the light in the hardest moments; and simply it’s better to celebrate the wins with someone you have achieve them with together. We wouldn’t have it any other way.
Alright, so for those in our community who might not be familiar with your business, can you tell us more?
We started Shine back in 2015 originally as a boutique PR agency out of Toronto, Canada. Looking for ways to create a niche for ourselves in the industry, soon after launch we decided to open a divisional agency – Shine Influencers – to be among the first in Canada to offer talent management for social creators. What began as a niche offering, soon grew to be 95% of our business. We recognized that we were getting a number of inquiries from US brands and talent who were looking to work with us and decided to take the leap to open a LA office to have local representation. Today we represent over 90 talent across our two offices, employ 25 team members, and execute hundreds of deals every month.
Sounds simple, but it has definitely been a journey. What people don’t see is all the fails between the successes. At one point in our development of Shine, we wrote 34 business proposals after having “great” meetings – all which were rejected. Before opening up our LA office, we had opened up an office in Dallas, Texas which we couldn’t fully get off the ground. We even opened a Speaker division at one point thinking it would be a great way to expand our talent management skills into another category.
We focus on the wins and the positives, but in truth there have been more times of learnings and nothing was quick or easy. The master lesson in all of this that we have learned is to look at every obstacle as an opportunity. If we were facing rejection, it was an opportunity to pivot or refine or pitch. If we didn’t hire the right team member, it was our accountability to look at that closely, change our behaviour and do better the next time. It has never occurred to us that we wouldn’t find our way to success, but we also have never been stuck in our ways to hold onto how we thought we would get there.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
Oh there are so many great places in LA.
For our team, our office is in West Hollywood by the Pacific Design Centre, so we would often go to Zinque for lunch or a breakfast meeting. We also loved the rooftop at Mama Shelter.
To get the full LA experience, spending time in Venice on the weekend is a must. The Butcher’s Daughter on Abbot Kinney Blvd is an amazing place to stop for a bite. The food is all plant-based and the restaurant itself is beautiful.
For a real experience, we recommend booking a wine tour with the Malibu Wine Safari. It is everything the name inspires plus more. Beautiful sites, wines and of course the sweetest animals for you to see. The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
Dedicating this to our team and all of the interns and people who have worked with us along the way to help Shine grow.
Instagram: @shine_influencers / @thebodcon
Linkedin: @emily-ward-shine. @jess-hunichen