A lesson in showing up: How the lady-brains podcast secured a partnership with Afterpay Australian Fashion Week

lady-brains

The lady brains podcast live at Afterpay Australian Fashion Week. Source: supplied.

We started our podcast lady-brains over 3 years ago in the dingy conference room of an office building in Fitzroy, Melbourne. Armed with our travelling recording kit (purchased after about 5 visits to the local DJ store), our young, curious and ambitious selves sat down with founder friends to learn about how they built their brands.

The idea was to suck up all of their knowledge, share it with our friends and apply it to one of our many business ideas that we’d never quite managed to get off the ground — a bamboo sweat towel brand, a bicycle ride sharing app, a dating site and resource library for divorcees (we were 21 and single at the time of coming up with that genius idea, go figure).

Little did we know that only a few years later the podcast would become our full time business and we’d be sharing the stories of some of Australia’s most successful designers at the biggest event on the fashion calendar — Afterpay Australian Fashion Week.

So how the *eff* did we get here?

It all started with a seemingly unassuming LinkedIn request. No note. Just a prompt asking me to ignore or accept. I clicked onto the person’s profile, like I usually would. My eyes widened. ‘Head of Strategic Partnerships for IMG’, I read.

Working with IMG, the business that manages not only Australian Fashion Week, but also the London, Paris, Milan and New York fashion weeks, had been on our lady-brains vision board from the very beginning. I vividly remember Caitlin (my co-host) and I sitting on the floor of our house, writing the names the biggest brands we could think of on post-its.

The Iconic. Facebook. Atlassian. Gucci. IMG.

We’d set ourselves the goal to host the lady-brains podcast at an international Fashion Week years earlier.

All of this was rushing through my mind as I accepted the LinkedIn request. I then sent a note, closing with “would you be open to chatting about potential partnership opportunities, for example around an event such as Australian Fashion Week?”

I cringe now at the wording, but hey, it worked.

Off the back of that message we booked in a meeting at Crown Towers for the following week when the IMG team flew down to Melbourne. We met on the top floor next to Crown’s infinity pool; the IMG team dressed up to the nines as they were heading to a Grand Prix party straight after. We had coffee, we chatted, and we clicked. In this meeting we learned that the IMG team were big fans of our show, and we casually discussed doing something with them for Australian Fashion Week 2020.

What happened next won’t come as a surprise: COVID-19 hit. Fashion Week, along with life itself, was cancelled. Melbourne plunged into lockdown. Everything fell through.

But we knew in our bones this opportunity was ours for the taking, and over the following 18 months we stayed in touch; shooting IMG an email with a podcast chat we thought might be of interest, sending them a Christmas card. We slowly built the relationship, and continued the podcast throughout lockdown, pushing out content for 13 months without a break. We showed up. Consistently.

Early in 2021 — once the state borders opened — we flew to Sydney to record some podcasts and booked in a meeting with IMG at Bill’s. It was there that we pitched our ideas for a 2021 partnership, and lo and behold, they said yes to every single thing.

After a couple of months negotiating and another meeting with the team in Melbourne, we met for a glass of Pinot Grigio under the piping hot summer sun at Gilson in South Yarra, and we shook hands. The deal was done.

lady-brains in lights

Seeing lady-brains plastered across the wall at Carriageworks is a moment we’ll never forget.

What started out as an independent podcast interviewing some of our best mates with brands, is now an official media partner alongside Vogue at one of the biggest fashion events in the world.

We feel like we’re the Schitt’s Creek of podcasts — a show that burst onto the scene seemingly overnight leaving people scratching their heads asking ‘where did they come from?’. The real story is that we’ve been grinding away for 3 years, building a cult following while waiting for the rest of the world to discover us and catch up.

A lesson in showing up

When you’re building a brand, it may seem like you’re working damn hard for little to no return. There will be moments of wondering whether you’re making progress, if people are noticing you, or if they even care. But here’s the thing. If you continue showing up, you will get noticed. Be consistent and opportunities will come your way.

Opportunities like this one don’t exist in a vacuum. In fact, every single opportunity comes through a person. In order to create opportunities for yourself or your biz, you’ve gotta build solid relationships with people. Be curious, get to know people, and add value to their lives. Being a good human in business goes a long way.

This one is a bit woo-woo but we believe it all the same. The universe will always find its way to help you reach your goals. Place your trust in it, and you’ll get there. We promise.

This article was first published on Medium. Learn more about lady-brains here.

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