Jess Hunichen & Emily Ward: The Founders That Shine

Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward, co-founders of Shine Talent Group, use their entrepreneurial talents to elevate the talent of others.

In November 2015 Shine Talent Group was born. With a boutique touch, Shine gives social talent and potential influencers the resources they need to work with a global network of PR agencies, one-on-one talent management and campaign strategy consulting while taking the time to understand their clients’ individual needs. Today, Shine has successfully expanded to represent social talent globally and has offices in Los Angeles, Toronto and London.

Co-founders Jess Hunichen and Emily Ward took time to sit down with share their journey with City Life and the lessons they have learned that make them shine today.

Q: What advice would you give to those wishing to embark on a career related to social media and influencers?

EMILY: For creators, look first into what you are doing in your life that people naturally come to you for advice on. Then look at the things you are most often searching for answers to online that you aren’t finding solutions for. These are both great ways to start defining your brand pillars and figuring out what you can offer to your followers.

JESS: For people looking for a career in social media, immerse yourself in the space and network. Don’t be afraid to reach out to a company or person for a coffee date to learn more about what they do, regardless of if there is an opportunity on the table. People love to share their journey, and you can learn so much from them through their experience.

Q: What are the biggest lessons you have learned over the years about feeling fulfilled in your work or at home?

EMILY: I am lucky to have embraced early that you can’t hold onto anything too tightly. Success comes with growth, and growth requires change. If we still tried to operate the business the same way we did in 2015, we wouldn’t be able to operate in today’s landscape. We learn something new every day and need to give ourselves, and our team, the grace to change our minds and move into a different direction, if necessary, to reach an overall goal.

JESS: As cliché as it sounds, love what you do and you’ll never work a day in your life. We work extremely hard at Shine, but there is an ease that comes along with it for the people who are fit for the role. I am extremely grateful that I was able to find a career that leans into my strengths – so hard work is fulfilling, regardless of the outcome.

Q: How important is it to give back to the community?

EMILY: It’s vital, and not just in the philanthropic sense. We need to give back with our time and mentorship to those who need it.
JESS: Agreed. I mentor several people and speak often to the next generation of people coming into this industry. Holding back knowledge and experience is not how we get ahead. We have tried to lead by example by sharing and giving opportunities for others to rise.

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Q: What is your secret to happiness?

EMILY: Jess gave me the Five-Minute Journal in our first year of business. I love the principles of what it stands for and have raised my children by asking them similar questions in the morning and at night to help guide conversations and focus our perspectives. It’s easy to stay with the lens that everything is hard and happening to you, but it’s much more fulfilling to train your brain to look at all the amazing things that happen in a day that can so often go overlooked if we don’t take a moment to see them.

JESS: Surround yourself with the best people. We are a product of the seven people we spend the most time with in our lives. I am constantly inspired and motivated by mine.

Q: What is your favourite thing to do on your days off?

EMILY: These days, I’ve been spending as much time as possible at Blue Mountain with my family. We are a blended family of seven with kids ranging from 10 to 23 years old. Skiing/snowboarding is something we all enjoy and can do together.

JESS: I love exploring new hikes and trails whenever I go with my husband and dog, Toast. When we’re in Toronto you’ll often find us at High Park. When we are in L.A. we’re typically hiking at Griffith Park or climbing the Beachwood Canyon stairs.

Q: If you could change anything about society, what would it be?

EMILY: More awareness of how connected we all are. I think there would be greater accountability for actions and decisions made if we truly understood this.
JESS: There is a huge disparity in the opportunities people are afforded by the way they grew up. I would like to see more equality in what people have access to.

Q: Definition of success?

EMILY: Success to me, personally, is to feel like I’m always evolving and am surrounded by people and opportunities that enable this to happen. In business, success to me is the ability to take what is presented to you and find the opportunity to keep moving forward.

JESS: Success to me is flexibility and fun. Being from Australia, having flexibility in how, when and where I work was always a priority, so I would be able to go back home and see my family. And, of course, fun. Enjoying what you do is everything.


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