Meet The Co-Founders: Tash Williams

Meet Tash Williams, one of the co-founders of An Hour With, and co-founder of Word of Mouth Digital. 
1. Tell us a little about yourself and how you started your career
I started in the fashion industry really early on, almost 15 years ago, at 18 years old.  I was studying your standard Arts degree but really didnt know what I wanted to do. I fell into an internship at this e-commerce startup called My Clothes Horse, which bought and sold designer Australian brands on sale- the early days of Josh Goot, Zimmermann etc. During that process we conceptualized a digital publication that would deliver traffic and conversions to brand partners and report on fashion and lifestyle. I was what you would call the tail end of the first wave of influencers. We didn't call it that back then, we were called "bloggers". The days of Tumblr, Blogspot and Jeffrey Campbell platform boots. If you know, you know. 
At that time, influencers were in their first iteration. There was a handful of us around at the start, and a few that pioneered things before us. The Susie Bubbles of the world. My first Australian Fashion week was shared with some amazing women, over a decade ago. Think Margaret Zhang, Nicole Warne, Sarah Donaldson, Jess Stein. We were all babies, and we were very much on the outer fringe of the industry. Before Tiktok, before influencer agencies. The irony now is that women like Margaret have gone on to rule the world- shes now the Editor in Chief of Vogue China. 
My entrepreneurial spirit was born from those early days. Imagine being 20, and being thrown into fashion week, packed full of editors of magazines, luxury brands and people who had far more experience and know-how than me. It was sink or swim. Often alone in a room of intimidating people, I learnt to be fearless. I learnt to accept myself so that others would, and I learnt to be brave. I secured interviews with Alex Perry, Diane Von Furstenburg and Georgia May Jagger amongst many many others. I fronted campains for L'Oreal and flew around Australia doing things I never dreamt of. 
I also learnt to accept that many people wouldnt accept me, or see me as benealth them. It was fuel on the fire of my drive to succeed. It was also a lesson in kindness in how I treated others. Those skills are the most valuable assets I have today. I learnt to be a chameleon, learning and absorbing every single drop of knowledge. 
We sold the business, and I moved on to a role at H&M, looking after social media and digital. We were part of a very small team bringing a global brand to life in Australia and we got to do some incredible things. It was a massive disruptor in the market. I got to travel the world, and work with some of the very best in the industry. I always describe it as startup vibes on a million dollar budget. I learnt a great deal about business, and about commercial mindset and I met my first mentor, my boss. She is one of the most amazing women I will ever meet and she taught me more than she could ever know. I owe a great deal of my career and my mentality to her. I still think of her often and what she'd do in a particular situation. 
I hit a point at H&M where I needed a challenge and a change. Working for a brand like H&M is almost like working for corporate. I was so nervous to quit because I loved my boss so much. I also owe a great deal to H&M which also brought me one of my best friends and our Operations Manager Nay. It was very hard for me to quit! 
Once I worked up the courage, I quit and had a stint outside of fashion, and ended up consulting on my own. Which leads me to this next question...
2. How did your business come to life
I left a role at a company called The Entourage and began working on consulting. I consulted for several years on a number of brands but most importantly the brands of a very dear friend and entrepreneur. She produced ethical resort wear and founded a digital hub of creativity and curation of product. Her belief in me inspired much of what I do today, and I owe her a lot. A running theme in my career is people believing in me and taking a chance, and I don't take that for granted. 
At the same time, my brother who had been in Fintech and Growth Hacking for a number of years was also consulting. He's had an amazing career and life travelling the world which you can read in a blogpost coming soon. We were slinging work back and forth between us, and always brainstorming new ideas. It was a natural progression and there is no one on this earth I would rather share the journey with. He is one of the most brilliant and talented people I know, his intelligence, knowledge and problem solving skills are without compare.
We continued to consult and grow until one day, three years ago we formed the agency officially and began hiring our team. Since then, we are growing month on month, with new hires or new projects kicking off every couple of weeks (or it seems it at least!). We now number over 15 team members and over 30 clients. 
3. What inspires and motivates you day to day
It might sound corny but its all about my community. I invest in this resource heavily. Whether its my husband, my friends, my family, my clients and colleagues I reserve a very big chunk of energy to allocate to nurturing relationships and making the effort. 
Don't get me wrong, I get stressed, and sad and tired like everyone else, but I am excited to get out of bed every day to work with our clients. We have a pretty unique set up at Word of Mouth, but we almost exclusively hire out of our network, or based on cultural fit because it is of paramount importance to enjoy the company we keep. My team are also my best friends. Thats why our clients love us, because its a super personal approach to business. It works. 
My dream is centred solely around building a life and legacy with the people that matter most to me, and at the same time helping businesses, mentees and clients that we care about deeply and genuinely. 
4. What are some lessons you have learnt that you wish you could have had a mentor for
It's pretty apparant from my story how much credence I give to mentors. There are a few select people over the years that extended me that kindness. They saw something in me that made me see something in myself. I would never have had the money to pay a mentor back then, as the traditional aventues to mentorship are very expensive (no longer a barrier with AHW- a shameless plug!). 
I wish that when I was younger, I could have had a mentor to teach me about how to negotiate. And how to navigate finance. As a woman, I fundamentally believe its not encouraged for us to be assertive about money, and its uncommon to talk about the details of things like investing, or wealth. I find it much more common amongst men, and certainly now as I am older and have grown my success. As a business owner I have really had to trial and fail many times at setting the price at which we are worth, and sticking to it. It's a self taught skill and I wish I had the support back then! 
5. What is your speciality- what do you think you can impart the most knowledge or advice on
My bread and butter is marketing. I think I am the ultimate problem solver because I hate being told something is not possible. I think anything is possible given the right approach. 
I love to take a brand and figure out how to scale it aggressively in market- and identifying the channel mix that will get us there. Based on data and stats but also a gut feel, I have an innate sense of where the focus needs to lie to get the strongest results. 
My personal passion and experience is in social media marketing in all forms- from paid socials to organic strategy. 
6. If you could have An Hour With anyone, who would it be and why? 
Business wise? I'd love to pick the brain of Zoe Foster Blake. What she has build and sold in a matter of years is simply mind blowing. 
Personally? I just want ten minutes with JonBenet Ramseys brother Burke. 
7. What is your proudest business moment?
Most of my proudest moments are simply over time- seeing long term, ongoing growth and success of our clients. My biggest "win" with the business would have been producing Australia's first local campaign for H&M. 
My funnest career moment was seeing the Backstreet Boys live at the Balmain x H&M launch in New York. No joke. 
8. What do you think are the biggest lessons out of 2020/21 
One. Never put your eggs in one basket. Diversifying your marketing mix, your revenue streams and forward planning is crucial. 
Two. Focus on your owned channels. You do not own Facebook nor are you entitled to it. You do however, own your website, your assets, your mailing list. How does Facebook, Instagram and Google feed and grow your owned assets? If you want to sell or exit your business these are far more important metrics. 
Three. Forget about vanity metrics. How many followers on Instagram you have is not important. Building community is. 
Four. Nothing is guaranteed in this life. Have a backup plan, and a backup for your backup plan. Be optimistic but not naieve. 
Five. Cashflow is king. 
9. What type of mentees do you think you are best suited to? 
I am a connector and a problem solver. Mentees that want support, advice and simple strategies to make changes in their marketing approach that see results. 
I'm best suited to work with mentees that also want to do the work with me. It's a joint effort, and I can impart all the wisdom and tools onto you to action some amazing changes, but if you don't do the work consistently after, it's a pointless task. Ill be here to champion and cheer you on as your biggest supporter!  
10. If you could describe yourself in three words, what would they be
Brave, assertive and compassionate. 
11. What is your guilty pleasure?
Blue cheese and The Real Housewives of Beverly Hills. 
12. What's on your playlist (Netflix, Podcasts, Spotify)
Im obsessed with James Acaster right now. Hes my number one favourite comedian. He has a podcast with Ed Gamble called Off Menu which is honestly one of the smartest formats for a show I have ever listened to. The episode with Greg Davies is all time. 
Aside from that, ive been a long time lover of Dax and Monica on Armchair expert, and their latest podcasts feat. Kristen Bell interviewing Sheryl Sandberg and Reese Witherspoon were so inspiring. 
On Disney Plus I am knee deep in Stumptown which is so good. Its a dark comedic Sherlock Holmes format show. Its epic. 

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