How Justine May Grew Her Talent Agency and Pivoted Her Business During COVID-19

 

Spotcap Client Spotlight  |  Justine May  | ChefsINK and TalentINK 

Justine is the Founder and Managing Director of talent agency ChefsINK and TalentINK Pty Ltd, a leading media relations firm that manages chefs and food experts such as Manu Fieldel, Gary Mehigan and Anna Polyviou, just to name a few.

As well as managing talent the business also creates content such as Asia Unplated for SBS, Ten Minute Kitchen, Charcoal Kitchen, Around the World with Manu and Far Flung with Gary Mehigan.

In the 22 years of building her business, Justine has navigated a range of challenges, triumphs and growth, giving her valuable insights and advice for fellow entrepreneurs. 

What goes into building and operating a successful talent agency? How has she pivoted her business during COVID-19? And finally, what decisions has she made and what advice would she give to other business owners? We ask Justine all about her business journey and her experience with Spotcap:

 

The Beginnings of ChefsINK:

ChefsINK was originally a part-time job for Justine, while she offered PR consulting services to help with cash flow. Fast-forward to now, the business has grown exponentially, attaining high profile talent and becoming a leader in the food and lifestyle genre, an industry that only keeps growing. 

Her previous hospitality management experience prepared her for the staff and client relationship side of operations, but as Justine noted, “running your own business brings so many extra challenges.”

You need to manage marketing, IT, finances, dealing with banks, lawyers and ensuring we have best practice across all aspects of the business.”

But with all challenges in mind, Justine loves the freedom and creativity owning your own business brings. “After working for myself for 22 years, I think I’m unemployable!!”

 

Evolving in Challenging Periods: 

So how has Justine managed her business during a pandemic and other challenges? 

“Over the years, our business has had to evolve constantly with the changing television and media landscape, and then through the GFC, so this time has been no different.”

Her previous experience in navigating challenging periods equipped Justine with the skills and proactive approach she needed to pivot her business model during COVID-19. 

With social distancing restrictions cancelling most in-person appearances, Justine is “moving more heavily into Influencer campaigns, creating quick turnaround content and offering her talent for virtual events.”

It’s this kind of out of the box thinking and proactive action that has helped the business and talent thrive. In addition, “promotes her talent online through their newsletter, social media platforms, advising talent on how to grow their profiles through creating the most appropriate and engaging content on their social media platforms.”

 

Capitalising on Growth Opportunities:

With any growing business, seeking finance is crucial to seize new opportunities. 

Spotcap’s product has been a quick and simple solution for Justine, who doesn’t have the time for lengthy finance applications. “Being an online service, meant it was quick and easy to apply, and took the stress out of multiple calls and endless paperwork requests.

“I could do it any time of the day or night, not just during business hours,” she continued. 

Justine used Spotcap’s funds to cover the costs associated with a new TV production, covering cashflow holes until the production was finished and she received payment. The line of credit style product meant she could draw money only if and when needed to maintain healthy cash flow and peace of mind during dips.   

Overall, Justine described her Spotcap experience as “friendly, efficient and easy”, allowing her to take exciting opportunities as they arose. 

 

Justine’s Advice for Business Owners: 

Throughout the years, Justine has collected practical advice for business owners, especially those in the retail and hospitality industry. 

First, she articulates the importance of diversification. “Never burn bridges and don’t put all your eggs into one basket. Relying on one source of revenue can be a business killer if that customer goes to your opposition or folds themselves.”

To new business owner’s starting out, she also encourages them to avoid over capitalising.

“If you can work from home or a shared office, or shared warehouse then do that. Buy 2nd hand equipment, and if you are a restaurant, don’t spend hundreds of thousands on fit-outs.”

With her previous experience in hospitality, she knows firsthand the challenges and building a business and has seen “so many businesses in hospitality burdened with unnecessary debt.”

Finally, Justine offers the advice to “take small steps in your growth” and most importantly enjoy the “freedom and creativity” that comes with being your own boss!

Enter Our ChefsINK Partner Competition!

And win a private cooking masterclass with Chef Dan Szwarc:

Click Here

To support Justine and ChefsINK, Spotcap is running their very own partner competition. Win an online masterclass from Chef, Dan Szwarc, who will take you through a delicious Argentinean steak dish to enjoy with friends or family! Click above to enter and view T&C’s.