Behind the Brains: Meet Tess

Smack Bang Designs Creative Director and owner Tess

I’ve always found it super hard to write about myself. When asked the big questions like ‘Who am I?’ The best part of my brain melts faster than Frosty the Snowman in the summer sun and the nervy rash creeps up my neck. Everything that comes to mind is everything that no-one should know. If I wrote down what I actually thought, I’d simply be locked up and sent to the funny farm.

I threw myself into this glass case of emotions when recently interviewed for The Owner’s Collective, a seriously sassy new program that gives creative entrepreneurs hands-on training to build a business that breaks out of the box. I’ve been selected as a ‘Maverick’ to give expert advice, tips and tricks on all things branding. Below is the interview I did with Pru Chapman, the creative genius behind The Owner’s Collective. I thought I’d share it here with you to finally give you a little slice of me and what I’m all about…

  1. Tell us about Smack Bang Designs and what you do.
    We are a modern design agency which favours fresh over formulaic and breaks all the rules. We are the enablers, inspiring and collaborating with like-minded folk to create a ripple effect of positive change throughout the world. We design good, for the greater good.
  2. How do you define success?
    Success is doing what you love, and building a lifestyle around that. It is about being yourself and being rewarded for who you are. It is about life, love and in my opinion, chooks (when I have chooks in the backyard, I’ll know I’ve made it!)
  3. What sacrifices have you had to make to be a successful entrepreneur?
    Phewwwf, that list is long! The most major would be time. I have invested copious amounts of time into this baby of mine. Which means sacrificing time with loved ones, time catching up with old friends, time to make new friends, time to choose healthy over convenient, time to go to yoga, time with my partner and time to sit at home in my underwear. And whilst we’re at it, I’ve forgotten my Dad’s birthday a couple of times too, I’ll take the opportunity to blame that on being a successful entrepreneur.
  4. What makes you happy?
    Knowing that the people I care most about are happy and healthy. As well as the less important things like dancing like a hooligan, working in bare feet, hopping into clean sheets and dipping my sleepy head in the morning ocean. 
  5. Tell us about a high point in your career.
    Oh, thats a hard one – there have been many! One of the most exciting high points though, was going on my first holiday sans-laptop. Knowing that my team had my back and that despite my fear mongering imagination, the business wouldn’t actually combust without me.
  6. Now tell us about a low point.
    I’d say it’s a fairly common low point for many business owners. I desperately needed to hire someone, but thought I wasn’t able to afford it. I worked 70-80 hour weeks, fulfilling 3 full-time roles myself and not doing any of them very well. I was spreading myself so thinly, my head felt like it was going to explode, my to do list was longer than my leg, my stress levels were spiralling out of control. I was so far deep that crying wasn’t even an option. My business suffered, my health suffered and my relationships suffered.
  7. What did you need to know to get out of there?
    I needed to get clear on my financials. Figure out that I really could afford to bring someone on, and that in fact, it was so ridiculous that I was putting myself through hell for the sake of saving money. I now know, that nothing is worth that amount of self-inflicted torture.
  8. Tea or Coffee?
    Coffee is like a seriously hard drug for me and my poor little nervous system. I do the world a favour by sticking to tea.
  9. What habits help you be successful?
    The usual; meditation, exercise and eating well. As well as a weekly Wednesday-Night-Wine-Night with my lover.
  10. How do you generate new ideas?
    The more space I have in my mind, the more space there is for new ideas. I try to keep the upstairs noggin clean and tidy so that amazing things can walk in that door. This means meditating regularly and letting things go easily.
  11. If you had the chance to start your career over again, what would you do differently?
    To tell you the truth, I wouldn’t do anything differently. I was super young when I started the business (22yrs old), and did so straight out of university. Everything was new, (I mean really new), and I threw myself in the deep end, made a truckload of mistakes and learned lessons really fast. Part of me knows that I bit off more than I could chew, but none of me regrets that.
  12. If you could share one piece of business advice with others, what would it be?
    Be pragmatic. If you face a problem, deal with it straight away. Deal with it in a calm state. And deal with it so well that it never shows its ugly mug ever again.
  13. Give us the 3 words other people would use to describe you?
    Determined, Energetic, Ambitious… and maybe a little bit Wild.


  1. Jess says:

    Love how personal you guys are, letting us in to the world of SMD. You guys are real and that’s what makes your brand stand out 🙂

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