From kitchen to Hong Kong: Coast start-up goes international
A young entrepreneur said being a woman in business was "scary but empowering" as she shared how a start-up from her kitchen table became one of the region's leading social media agencies.
Maroochydore-based social media agency Dash of Milk celebrated two years in business this week, and founder and director Bronte Cresswell, 26, has no plans to slow down.
After working for another agency, Miss Cresswell said she was inspired to find a way to work for herself, and "took the leap" into freelancing at just 23 years old.
Miss Cresswell said she began freelancing from her kitchen table, and within six months she was able to hire her first employee, project manager Stephanie Kaye.
"Since then we have evolved into an agency, moved from our first little office into a bigger space, and have grown the team to four," she said.
Miss Cresswell and her team of two project managers and an in-house graphic designer now manage social media campaigns for 30 clients locally, nationally and internationally.
"We have quite a few local Sunshine Coast based hospitality clients who we love working with to make their Instagram account a live menu," she said.
"We also work with beauty brands around Australia and have three clients in Hong Kong at the moment.
"These clients came through a referral, we were very honest that we hadn't worked with the international market before and didn't know how it would go.
"Luckily, our client was amazing and we figured it out, he has now been with us for a year and we manage three of his business accounts, including one which is launching in the coming months with Deliveroo."
Miss Cresswell also recently launched Dash Academy, offering courses, workshops and corporate training for business.
But it hasn't all been smooth sailing for the entrepreneur, who said the COVID-19 pandemic had an "extremely heavy" impact on the agency, and left her unsure of their future.
"We were working with quite a few hospitality venues on the Sunshine Coast, as well as product-based clients who couldn't get stock shipped in from anywhere, so all of a sudden over about three days we lost about 30 per cent of our client base," Miss Cresswell said.
"In the end it was about 50 per cent of the clients who we had on had to pause their accounts.
"It was really hard for us, and not something we expected or obviously really knew how to handle only a year into the agency, but we focused on what was important which was the team, our clients and keeping out brand alive.
"I distinctly remember saying to the team when it all first blew up and no one knew what was happening that I didn't know what would happen with the agency, but I could promise them that on the other side of this it would still be there, in whatever form that is."
Miss Cresswell said she was "guessing her way through every hour of the day" at one point, but said with some serious work the agency was stronger than ever.
Miss Cresswell said creating a start up as a young woman had been "scary but empowering" and offered some advice on what it was like to work for yourself.
"I love working for myself but as a start-up I am also working for my team, so we can build a brand and business that we can be proud of," she said.
"People often picture working for yourself as going home whenever you want or just picking random hours to work and that's just not the case, but I wouldn't want it to be.
"It's a team effort and if anything you need to put in ten times the work than if you are working for someone else."