Taryn Williams Wink Interview
Taryn Williams began modeling at 16; with a lucrative nine year career under her belt she experienced the amazing highs of the industry as well as the drawbacks - ridiculously long working hours, poor (or sometimes no) pay, and lack of support from any Union or professional body. But rather than turn her back on the industry, Taryn strived to create a safe, successful working environment for Australian models and in 2007 founded her own agency, WINK.
WINK is a dynamic modeling and promotions agency with over 300 models Australia-wide and a portfolio of high profile clientele including M.A.C Cosmetics, Qantas, Vodafone, Sportsgirl and Woolworths. Taryn manages her brood of models backed by a small team and a network of contacts across the country, and has grown her agency steadily for four years with plans to open an office in Melbourne in the near future.
What's most surprising is that Taryn achieved all of the above by the age of 26. But this is a lady who probably packs more in to a month than most do in a year - her previous career projects include working as a freelance photographic producer for three years, producing print campaigns for the likes of Wittner and Peter Morrisey. She has juggled the role of freelance events producer for the last 5 years, and even found the time to gain her pilots license at the age of 16!
Travel plays a huge part in Taryn's life, having been born in Adelaide and growing up in Fiji, she has lived in Queensland, Korea, Canberra, and now resides in Sydney from which she manages the WINK agency. And how does such a busy woman wind down? Taryn is a self-confessed 'yoga addict', de-stressing with regular sessions, and she also spends her (very rare) spare time sourcing pieces from her favourite designers including Eames, Kartel, Poltrona Frau, Phillipe Stark, and Marcel Wanders.
Interview with Taryn Williams
Taryn Williams is the founder and director of WINK.Question:
What inspired you to begin modeling?Taryn Williams
: I was 15 when I first began modelling, after being approached by an agent in the street. As I was still at school, and knew it was really important for my education to come first. I mainly only did small catalogues, fashion parades and events after school hours. I began modelling more seriously at 17 when I started university.Question:
What inspired you to begin WINK?Taryn Williams
: After being in the industry myself for about eight years, I found a lot of things that I felt could be done better. So I decided to start my own agency, based on the premise that all models would be treated well, paid within 7 days, and we'd grow and foster a great group of talent who love what they do and are rewarded for it. I knew clients would love the idea as the agency would be able to offer them great talent who were happy, excited to go to work, and willing to give 110% to every job because WINK was always giving them that little bit of extra love too!Question:
Whilst working in the modeling industry what did you experience in terms of terrible working conditions? Taryn Williams
: A lot of models aren't paid on time (or in some cases, at all!), and there's no union to protect minimum wages and conditions. A lot of talent are scared to stand up to their agents about problems for fear of losing work. I personally had to take one agent in my early days to small claims court to get my payment for a photo shoot - a really upsetting and overwhelming experience as I was only 18! A lot of clients that employ these agencies don't realise that although their pay their bills, that the agency may not pass the payment on to the model, and this is something we hope to make them aware of and change.Question:
What's a typical day like for you?Taryn Williams
: That's one of the things I love about my job - every day is different! Some days I might be on site for an event, others I'll be at my desk all day, some days I could be casting models in a photo studio. But a general day involves getting up early, a couple of hours at my desk getting through emails, a catch up with my team to see how accounts and new talent enquiries are going, meetings, power plate training, yoga, more emails then bed! Oh, and somewhere in all of that, trying to squeeze in breakfast, lunch and dinner.Question:
You've achieved so much, can you provide your tips for creating a successful schedule?Taryn Williams
: I love a list! I make to do lists every day, and prioritise the tasks, and I admit I won't leave the office until they are done. I break down my emails into files of what's urgent, what can wait, and what's 'airplane material' - newsletters etc that I can read on the plane. I also block out time in my diary every week for exercise as it really helps with my stress levels and keeps my health in check.Question:
How does WINK differ from other modeling agencies?Taryn Williams
: We're the agency where no request is too big or to small - we always want to help. If it's a last minute job, or a job where the budget is tight, or an unusual request, we'll always do our best to make it happen. We want to see a good outcome for everyone - the models and the client, it's so much more rewarding when everyone is happy!Question:
How is WINK a safe and successful working environment for Australian models? Taryn Williams
: We treat our models like family, we're constantly helping them grow and develop. Sometimes people say I'm more like a mother hen - advising the models on how to get the most out of their careers right through the helping them through break ups! We make sure that all of our models are fully briefed before they head to any job or casting, making sure they are happy and comfortable with any job they are booked on, so they are able to deliver the best result. Most importantly we make sure they are paid on time every time, irrespective of how long it takes the agency to get paid by our client, all WINK models are paid within 7 days. Just like everyone else, models have bills, rent, living expenses to pay, so we give them that security to be able to pursue this as a career.Question:
What goals do you have for WINK, in the future?Taryn Williams
: The next thing is to open the Melbourne office, which will hopefully happen later this year. We're also expanding the type of talent we represent to look after a broader market, including Mums & Dads and 'unique' looks. Question:
What is your favourite part of modeling?Taryn Williams
: When I was modelling myself, it was the travel - getting to see some of the most amazing places in the world all under the guise of work! Now it's seeing my models succeed - the excitement in their voice when we call them to tell them they've landed that big job makes all the hard work worthwhile!Question:
How would you describe your personal style?Taryn Williams
: My style is quite classic; I like investing in pieces that won't date, are good quality, but also a bit of fun! Shoes are my weakness - especially Louboutins, I'm addicted!Question:
Does Wink have a website?Taryn Williams
: Yes, see www.wearwink.com.au
Interview by Brooke Hunter