In 2015, Emily Ward and Jess Hunichen had just started to pick up traction with their newly-formed public relations company, Shine PR, when they noticed a gap in the industry. Influencers had emerged on the scene to disrupt traditional marketing and engage countless followers, however, nobody was managing influencer talent professionally.
Armed with a breadth of PR experience and s strategic vision, Emily and Jess were one of the first in Canada to launch an influencer management agency in 2015 and rep some of the best micro-influencers in the business. These include people like Sarah Nicole of the Birds Papaya, Alyssa Garrison of Random Acts of Pastel, Beverley Cheng of Born to Sweat and Sydney Hoffman, to name a few.
Inspirational entrepreneurs, they have grown their business substantially in just a few years, despite being told that their brand was “too girly” to be taken seriously at the start. Most recently, they launched in LA and now rep over 20 talent in the states.
What is your business called and what does it do?
Shine Influencers. We work with brands and social talent to create meaningful collaborations with target consumers.
What made you want to do this work?
When we started Shine Influencers in 2015, we recognized the need to bridge the communication gap between social talent and the brands and agencies who wish to access this communications channel. We’re a strategic agency made up of real people who understands both sides – our role can help better match brands with talent, and better facilitate the execution of the program through the one-on-one management we offer. With more and more of this space turning to online platforms and AI based algorithm, it is more important than ever to have an agency offering that is people first as our understanding of human interaction is something that a database simply cannot replicate.
What problem does this solve?
With more and more consumers accessing their information through social influencers who they find relatable, brands are struggling to find ways to genuinely share information with them through traditional broadcast and media. Social influencer collaborations allow brands to connect with their target consumers through a channel where they are actively listening.
Who are your clientele/demographics?
We started our business in the consumer lifestyle space, but since have grown to work on over 5,000 programs for thousands of brands globally with clients spanning categories including technology, finance, automotive, fashion, beauty, food and consumer packaged goods.
How does your business make money? How does it work?
We have a commission based business. We take a fee from the talent similar to a modelling agency or actors agency.
Where in Toronto can we find your profession?
There are a number of talent management firms now in Toronto. We proudly collaborate with a number of them who share our values and business ethics in order to create seamless programs for our clients.
What is the best question a prospective customer could ask a member of your profession when comparing services?
Their background on strategy is paramount. Shine Influencers is not a transactional agency, with our background in PR and marketing communications, we offer a high level of strategic thinking around how our programs can best be rolled out for optimal performance.
What is the size of your roster? How long have you been in business?
Shine Influencers launched November 2015 with roughly 20 talent. We now have a team of 12 with offices in Los Angeles, Montreal and Toronto. We represent ~60 exclusive talent along with facilitating programs with our external network of talent for brands with niche requirements.
What is the best part about what you do?
We have seen so many of our talent start working in this space part time and growing through the help of our marketing to be able to fulfill their passion as a full time career. We have watched talent become mothers and support their families, build platforms to be able to share their opinions and make a difference, develop product lines and ultimately build careers that are carving ways for new media and a more authentic way to communicate to consumers.
What is the worst part?
The hardest part was certainly in the beginning with education. This industry barely existed when we launched, so we had to educate brands and agencies on the value of influencers. Thankfully that part is done now and we were able to blaze a trail for the agencies that followed.
What is your favourite joke about your own profession?
Yikes, we really don’t have a specific one… do we need to answer every question??
PAY IT FORWARD: What is another Toronto business that you love?
We’re super obsessed with Norquay right now, they design beautiful artisan paddles that are giving us all of the summer cottage feels!