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Four Australian industry creatives give advice to their younger selves

IMAGE VIA BREAD BEAUTY SUPPLY

Words by Helena Bammant

 

You are exactly where you need to be.

When you’re still trying to get your foot in the door and you’re receiving countless rejection letters, it’s easy to forget that everyone starts somewhere

This year has been one of the toughest for the job market, especially in the creative fields (as if it wasn’t already hard enough before). Feelings of rejection, failure and self-doubt are increasing among the creative community and it’s hard to cope when the future is so uncertain.

When I’m feeling down about these never-ending career roadblocks, I start to stalk people on LinkedIn for a boost of career-crush endorphins. It’s comforting to know that successful people have career setbacks too, and that it takes time to get to where you want to be.

But with a lot of hard work, patience, adaptability and determination, you can end up somewhere great, even if it’s not exactly what you imagined.

With this in mind, I asked four industry creatives for their advice to their younger selves. They shared everything from their career highs and lows, what their first jobs were, and what to do when it feels like nothing is working out.

Introducing…

Emily Wurramara, singer-songwriter

Emily is an Aria nominated singer and songwriter originally from Groote Eylandt in the NT. She released her first EP Black Smoke at just 16 years old and it sent her to the top of the charts in Australia. Emily comes from humble beginnings, and shares the story of her childhood and Indigenous culture through her music. 

Bobby Clark, artist and photographer

Bobby is an artist and photographer with a background in art and design. Bobby studied textiles, majoring in illustration and photography at Manchester School of Art. Now living in Melbourne, Bobby creates artwork that explores symmetry and balance and creates minimal studies of shape composition.

Alison Rice, journalist, career coach and founder of Offline, The Podcast

Alison is an inspiring female leader and an important voice in the media industry. An award-winning digital publisher, Alison launched Who What Wear, Byrdie and MyDomaine into the Australian market. Now the founder of Offline, The Podcast and Self Study, she has created a community that helps people discover their best selves.

Maeva Heim, founder of Bread Beauty Supply

Maeva is an impressive young businesswoman, and she’s proof that hard work does pay off. After finishing high school, she studied a double degree in law and business and began working in marketing with brands like L’Oréal, Oral B, and Procter & Gamble. After being accepted into the Sephora Accelerate Program in 2017, she was able to launch her own brand, and in 2019 Maeva debuted Bread Beauty Supply, a haircare brand she created exclusively for curly and afro-textured hair.

Here we go…

How long did it take for you to land your first ‘real’ job? 

Emily Wurramara: I was 14 years old when I got my first actual gig and it was a small gig at the Zillmere Multicultural Arts Festival. There were only like seven people there including my little brother, my mum and my dad. I remember feeling so sick in my stomach from the nerves I almost didn’t go on.

Bobby Clark: I think it was about eight years ago now, working for Pop & Scott (a furniture and design workshop in Northcote). I hand-painted the pots, helped Poppy with design, did some floristry, managed the showroom and was the in-house photographer.

Alison Rice: I actually didn’t get the marks to go to uni straight out of high school, so I studied at TAFE and interned for three years to eventually get accepted as a mature age student. Back then I was studying full time and working in both retail and as a medical receptionist. It wasn’t until my final year at uni, I interned in journalism and media. Then I applied for the weekend assistant role at Popsugar in 2012 and the rest is history.

Maeva Heim: I studied a double degree in business and law, and always expected that law would be my focus. I started off working as an intern with L’Oréal and the went on to work with Oral B. I always knew I wanted to launch a beauty brand I just didn’t know what it would be.

What are the best lessons you’ve learnt or been told throughout your career?

M: Don’t worry if its not the life-defining work that you crave. Don’t worry if it’s not big enough of a dream or if it’s too big to materialise. Don’t be afraid that there isn’t enough. Be afraid that there is too much. Too much to explore, to achieve. Too much potential and not enough certainty. Too much to become good at.

E: The best advice I have ever received was from my grandmother and it went along the lines of “Remember to make a life while making a living” reminding me that there is more to life than work.

B: I think the best lesson is that you can’t be anything other than yourself. I tried to be a different person and embody the work of others for years and it wasn’t until I no longer cared and stopped trying so hard and let go that I actually found my ‘thing’. Having a great attitude and willingness to learn will make you go far in whatever you want to do. Know hard work and be willing to help. Even when I’m in an office handwashing cups and licking envelopes, I’m not above these jobs.

A: There’s so many! But the lessons that changed my career were the ones I learnt during the most difficult situations. Work to gain your team’s respect, not to be liked. Don’t share what you know, share how you know it. Speak through your experience. Listen deeply, reflect sincerely, respond intentionally.

Is there anything you would go back and change or wish you could change?

M: I can’t tell you what things would have been like if you had chosen a different path from the one you’re living now. I can’t say for certain that future Maeva knows more than you do now because a lot of this feels like it’s happened already. But your intuition is pretty spot on.

E: I just wish that the little Emily knew how strong and beautiful she was. How courageous it was for an eight-year-old to know what makes her happy.

B: No, I wouldn’t change anything. Even the bad things as they are the biggest lessons in life. You have to go through the shit to really appreciate the good.

A: If you’re just starting out, find an early-stage business or a brand you believe in and stay with them. The career-defining choice I made was loyalty. I believe that every experience we have is relevant to our personal evolution, so through that lens, I wouldn’t change anything. It’s all relevant and it all helped me arrive here.

What would you tell your younger self, if you had the chance?

M: You’re afraid to commit to one thing, because what if it’s not the thing? What if it’s not the life-defining work that you crave? What if it’s not big enough of a dream? What if it’s too big to materialise? But here’s the thing, Maeva – you’re already wasting time, thinking about the time you could waste. 

A: You’re too ambitious to fail so spend less time worrying that you will and more time enjoying the journey. 

B: That it’s okay to be different. Exercise and eat well. You realise that food is fuel a little too late in life. It’s so important to put your health first. 

E: I wish the younger me knew that she was enough, and her journey is full of ups and downs, sun and rain, thunder and lightning but it’s going to be an exciting one. I wish I knew when I was younger to show kindness to myself and be gentle to my heart. 

What do you do when you feel like nothing is working out?

M: One thing that I do know, choosing the wrong path is better than no path at all. And the path that you’re on, well, I think you might be on to something. Just keep going.

E: That it’s okay to cry and it’s okay to feel uncomfortable because your uncomfortable space allows you to grow into a better person than who you were yesterday.

B: Stop. Get out of the studio, go for a walk, see friends, visit an art gallery or book a holiday. Switch off completely and rest your mind. You can’t create on empty.

A: Ask yourself if you’re chasing someone else’s idea of success or your own. I think we can get caught up in what we “should” be doing career-wise instead of aligning to what we are destined to do. We all have a unique purpose, we also don’t need to “find it” because it isn’t lost – all we need to do is the self-work and it will come.

Any other advice/knowledge/inspiration you would like to share?

M: Thinking is good, and there isn’t a moment of the day that you’re not. But thinking will only get you so far. The answers you’re looking for will come to you in the ‘doing’. 

E: I always think of my life as a tree, starting from such a small seed to grow into this majestic grandmother that helps breathe life into people, her roots intertwining with spirits, her leaves dancing but so strong that she doesn’t bow to anyone.

B: Don’t quit on a bad day. Ever. Be a sponge for knowledge. Don’t limit yourself with “I can’t”. Money doesn’t necessarily mean success. You can learn anything and everything on YouTube. Lastly, but most importantly, be kind. Always.

A: Be who you want to be, not how you want to be perceived. Focus on getting to the learning part faster vs. staying too long in the suffering. I am proof that you can walk into a start-up as the most junior person in the business and leave as the first-ever Group Publisher of [Allure Media’s] Women’s Lifestyle.

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