Jessica Ruhfus is the founder & CEO at Collabosaurus, a platform connecting complementary brands for marketing partnerships in social media, events and products.
1) To kick things off, could you tell us a little about your career background and current role?
Sure! I actually started out wanting to work in film – I was able to lie my way onto the set of The Great Gatsby, worked on music video shoots and dabbled in a few short film & script writing projects.
However, it was well known at the time that succeeding in the Australian film industry was no easy feat, and I didn’t fancy moving my life to LA, so I changed my major to public relations & communications.
Starry eyed, I landed my first ‘big’ job at a boutique fashion PR firm in Sydney – where my expectations were turned upside down as long hours, a 3 hour commutes, low pay and big KPIs became the reality.
I learnt so much in this role and had some incredible co-workers who I still call friends today, but it was clear that fashion PR wasn’t for me! I was a fish out of water.
Something that stood out to me in the PR days was the amount of opportunities getting missed. There were media events happening nearly every day of the week, where brands and publicists sought out ‘free stuff’ from other brands to help both make the event memorable, and reduce their costs.
As someone new to the industry with zero network, this stood out to me as a problem! I’ll never forget going to a Watson x Watson industry fashion show, where they had partnered with Vittoria coffee. On entry, everyone (even the lowly junior burger) had a personalised coffee cup with their name on it from Vittoria. That stood out to me! Why weren’t more brands doing it?
From this job, I hopped a little closer to home and got a role working at a marketing education company for small businesses.
Here, we taught business owners about brand collaborations and partnerships – but few people were actually doing them. Either because they’d been taken advantage of in the past, or because they didn’t know where to start at all.
One day in 2014 I had the idea for Collabosaurus as I was going off to sleep. I think it was a culmination of all of my previous frustrations with brand partnerships, but also because I’d hijacked a co-workers Tinder to ‘swipe right’ on a few suitors on his behalf.
Then, boom! Somehow, about 9 months later we launched Collabosaurus – the matchmaking platform that connects over 8000 brands like The Iconic, Sofitel, and Marks & Spencer for clever marketing collabs.
2) What does a day in the life look like for you? Can you take us through a recent workday?
With COVID restrictions, the whole team is in some form of ‘lockdown’ at the moment! Regardless, I always start my day with a double strength coffee and a check-in with the Customer Success & Development teams first thing in the morning.
After that, the days are super varied! Some days I’m recording podcasts or presenting workshops, others I am chatting to clients about collaborations they have coming up, or sourcing some cool partners of our own.
Needless to say I spend far too much time in my email inbox haha.
3) Does your current role allow for flexible or remote working? If so, how does that fit into your life and routine?
Absolutely. Even pre-COVID, the CollaboTeam always works from home on Mondays & Fridays. It gives us all a chance to work on projects with deep focus and reduces the commute down to give everyone a little more work-life balance.
4) What does work-life balance mean to you and how do you work to achieve that goal?
I love the idea of ‘work-life integration’ over balance. For me, the definition of this comes down to managing stress levels and ensuring I’m able to do things that make me happy. For the most part, I really love my day-to-day life. I love working! Collabosaurus has given me so many opportunities to pursue projects and relationships that bring me joy.
Other than this, sleep is my number one priority and the only thing I can properly ‘stick to’ when it comes to managing a work-life integration.
5) In the past 12 months, have you started or stopped any routines or habits to change your life?
All the time! I wouldn’t say I’m amazing at sticking to new routines. The latest attempt is getting myself a slow cooker to try and batch cook a little better. I always opt for unhealthy (and expensive) takeaway if I’m not prepared with lunches, so working from home is another chance to get into a rhythm with food prep.
6) Do you have any favourite books, podcasts or newsletters that you’d like to recommend?
I recently finished Samantha Will’s book Of Gold & Dust and can highly recommend it. It was absolutely wonderful – I couldn’t put it down! I also felt so many parallels with my own startup journey.
I also love the Lady-Brains podcast and Hack Your Own PR by Odette Barry – shameless plug you can also check out my own podcasts ‘Stop Collaborate & Listen’ & ‘This is how we do it’
7) Are there any products, gadgets or apps that you can’t live without?
I love my Surface laptop! The InShot app is great for content editing on the go, Toggl is a wonderful free tool for productivity and time management. I also find myself using the Collabosaurus app more and more to ‘swipe right’ on great brand collaborations.
8) If you could read an interview about work-life balance by anyone, who would that be?
Kate Morris of Adore Beauty!
9) Do you have any last thoughts on work, life or balance that you’d like to share with our readers?
From speaking to countless founders, many of whom are incredibly successful, it is my belief that nobody has truly cracked ‘work life balance’ perfectly over a consistent period of time. Running a business is a rollercoaster! Do your best, but remember that social media is a ‘highlight reel’ and very few people have it all figured out.
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