Collaboration over competition.
Clothesline Content is a production company I co-founded with my business partner and work wife, Jacqueline Tonks. Over the past year, we’ve supported each other through major challenges and celebrated big wins, and in our experience, collaboration wins over competition. Every. Single. Time.
Before Clothesline, we were senior producers on Masterchef Australia, The Project, and The Block, to name drop a few. We’ve headed up production departments, worked in high pressure control rooms, and managed locations with some of the biggest stars on Aussie TV. Meeting each other changed everything, leading us down a path that was completely unexpected, but ultimately, the best adventure we’ve ever been on.
In 2009 I moved from Perth to Melbourne, and found myself at the most important job interview of my life. While I was sitting in the reception of Network Ten, wearing my most professional outfit, another woman walked in. I realised she was there for an interview. My thoughts started racing: “surely she’s here for the same interview”, “does she has more experience than me?”, “is she my competition?”.
My interview ended up going well, and I left feeling pretty certain the job at The Project was mine. Yet I kept thinking about the woman in the waiting room – what if she was more impressive?
Pop the champagne! I got the job. On my first day I walked into the kitchen and there she was, the woman from reception. She put out her hand, “Hi, I’m Jac.” Turns out she also kicked butt in the interview and got a job in the field department. The person who I thought was my rival was to become my chief collaborator in life. That introduction was the beginning of not just a dear friendship but a journey that would see us create our own path in the media industry.
Cut to six years later, Jac and I are in Tokyo shooting for MasterChef. We were sitting in our hotel room talking about our career goals, creativity and what we want from our work. This was our first conversation about starting our own production company; creating meaningful, broadcast quality content for online. We talked about our fears, and there were a lot. Money: will we make any? Business skills: do we have any? Have we lost our minds to walk away from the biggest jobs in TV? Potentially, yes. Individually, we would never do this. But together, supporting each other, we knew we had to try.
Three months later, we found ourselves sitting in a co-working space trying to work out a name. We knew it had to be about stories and women because we’re passionate about women’s voices being heard. Then it came to us. A place, back in the day, where women would share stories as they hung up their families’ washing together. Simple stories about their day, the dreams they had or the hardships they endured. The clothesline was a place for women to express themselves to other women. And that was what we wanted to be about. Women’s stories, being told and heard and supporting one another. “How about Clothesline Content?” Jac asked.
A year on in our own office in Windsor, we’ve defined our roles in the business more clearly. Everyday we learn more about where our strengths lie. More importantly we’ve learnt that clear communication, creative collaboration and not being afraid of being told “no” (and bit of mid-week yoga/ wine) is the key to our success.