Smack Bang Designs l Tess Robinson


Conversation with Tess Robinson

Tess is Founder and Creative Director of Smack Bang Designs. At the ripe old age of 30, Tess has not only built one of Australia's most well recognised design studio’s, but also has another three companies under her belt, she recently won Young Entrepreneur of the year, and she’s a new Mum. In this podcast we chatted through the reality of starting a business in your early 20’s, how to build team with purpose, and the sacrifices it takes to build an empire like this.

We have a really big policy in the studio - that you’re responsible for the energy that you bring in to this place, because it is so contagious.
— Tess Robinson

While most 22 year olds would be traveling the world, partying and avoiding anything remotely resembling a ‘grown up’ responsibility, Tess, was starting her very own business. She may not have had experience on her side but she was also free of any risk-assessing ‘what if I fail’ mentality that stops so many talented players from getting started. She had nothing to loose and went on to make one hell of a successful design studio, Smack Bang Designs.

Tess is a true believer in hard-work and seizing the day but not willing to compromise on her barefoot, beach living lifestyle - with a ‘leave on time’ mentality that she heavily enforces at her Design Agency. So it made perfect sense for Tess and Byron to pick sunny Coledale on the NSW south coast to set up their home a few years ago. It’s the perfect distance from the hustle and bustle of Sydney but far enough to completely switch-off, unwind and spend quality time with their daughter Dylan and kelpie, Rainey.

It’s her down to earth purpose-driven approach to her businesses that make Tess totally inspiring and a complete boss (in the best kind of way). She explains that without a shared vision and purpose you won’t attract and retain a team that is ‘family-tight’ and aligned to your cause. You won’t clearly be defined and different to the other fish out there.

She understands that it’s more important than ever to establish trust and resonate with your audience on a higher level. People don’t just buy from anyone anymore - they make sure they’re strongly aligned with the businesses principals. After all businesses with a strong purpose can shape the world in which we live, so it’s more important than ever to choose wisely and this gal totally gets it.

She also co-steers the ship at Urban Growers with her partner Byron. Urban Growers encourage city-folk and corporations to embrace sustainable gardening. Whatever the space limitations or skill level they’ll get a garden sprouting and bustling with veggie goodness in no time. Then the owner can take over the reins and enjoy those glorious gardening joys and rewards that come from ‘garden-to-plate’ living.

Tess and Byron have also made their tips and tricks available for the masses with the publication of their book - Slow Down and Grow Something. It’s the ultimate guide to edible gardening, it details the set up and maintenance, plus it includes a bunch of hearty recipes to try after harvest time. Tess has also published a number of magazines under Smack Bang Designs and supplied many start up guides to those hungry Graphic Designers trying to follow in her footsteps.

Mentioned in conversation...

  • The grit and determination required when creating a business and some of Smack Bang Design’s challenges and initial key growth moments over the past 8 years.

  • The key to building a great businesses is building an absolutely incredible team.  A team that feels like family is crucial for growth and success.

  • How a lack of fear has been one of Tess’ most useful traits in setting up her business. How we create a healthy mindset free of fear and ready to take risks.

  • How motherhood has changed her priorities and her as a person. As well as, her biggest take outs from the experience so far, at 6-months in.

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