This month I spoke with the amazing Daniele Wilton, Co-Founder and Managing Director of Smudge Publishing, which started straight out of university.
What made you start Smudge Eats?
I finished my Bachelor of Communications degree at the end of 2008 and started Smudge Publishing with my Mum, Jonette, in April 2009. Mum has been in publishing all her life and suggested we go into business together. One year later my sister Katie joined our two-man band and the rest is history. I am now running our amazing team of 15 across Melbourne and Sydney and absolutely loving it. Smudge Eats was a natural progression from publishing books – we needed to have a digital presence so we created Smudge Eats, which has been a whirlwind in itself!
What does your job typically involve?
Lots of eating and drinking! If I am not eating or drinking, I am looking at pictures of food or deciding where to go next. My whole day is surrounded by food, which I love. I oversee the big picture of Smudge, so the business side of things. I look after the accounts, managing my amazing team and meeting lots of people. I typically have at least one or two meetings a day with like-minded people or businesses that Smudge can collaborate with. I love getting out there and meeting interesting people.
You’ve ended up in a job that sounds like it combines all your passions. How did you eventually reach such a desired position (it’s something we all look for!)?
2016 has seen us reach a mark where we are really comfortable with the business and it’s something that we are really proud of. It has taken us 6 years to get to this stage and I can honestly say it has been really, really hard. There have been so many ups and downs but it is so nice to reach a point where we are all really happy. I think at the end of the day it comes down to the team that you are surrounded with.
How do you find working with your mum and sister? Any challenges?
Family businesses are always interesting. We get along really well – Mum and I are the big dreamers and Katie is the realistic one, which is what we need to bring us back down to earth. There are definitely both advantages and disadvantages. Being so close, we know each other inside and out, which means we know exactly where each other’s strengths and weaknesses lie. We can also say what we’re thinking instead of treading carefully, but that can sometimes be as much of a bad thing as it is a good one. It can be awkward having a heated discussion in front of staff, but sometimes it’s unavoidable.
What do you look for when hiring new staff?
We look for passion. All of our team are obsessed with food and one of our interview questions is always ‘do you love food?’ Obviously we look for people who are good at what they do, preferably better at it than we are, but we believe passion is one of the most important things. We also want to hire people who will take the initiative to do things on their own and think like an entrepreneur and not like an employee.
How do you handle stress and a busy workload?
Over the years I have learnt that tomorrow is a new day. There is no point in getting stressed out or upset and you can only do so much in your day. I really enjoy working in a team environment but I need my own time to get things done either in the morning before everyone gets to work or at the end of the day. I find those times my most productive. I used to work way too much and that wasn’t good for my personal life. I have learnt to leave the office and make sure I either go for dinner or have something to do at night to get me out of the office. Otherwise I would be there until midnight every night.
What do you think needs to be done to improve today’s gender pay gap?
At Smudge we have a female dominated team, just by chance. I believe gender is irrelevant when hiring for any position, within any company, and that pay should reflect an individual’s skill level regardless of whether they are male or female. I think if more people in positions of power think like this then women won’t have to fight so hard for what they deserve.
Top career advice for other young women?
A few people have asked me ‘how should I start my business, I am too scared, what should I do?’ My advice is always, ‘just go for it’. What have you really got to lose? No one is going to judge you if it fails and why not give it a go now while you are young? If you have a great idea you should definitely act on it because you’ll always wonder if you don’t.
Want to feature as an Inspiring Woman or have someone else to put forward? Please email laura @ the work her dot com or fill out the submission form.