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Wonderworks Q&A

Wonderworks Q&A

Sarah Wildman King and Miranda Hart are co-founders of independent creative agency Wonderworks which specialises in the premium drinks market. They work on strategic positioning and brand creation through to visual design and communications.

They also create fantastic networking events, webinars and talks as well as actively promoting and supporting women in the drinks industry.

I sat down to talk with them about their partnership. Sadly not over a drink.

Give me some brief context. How did you meet and why did you decide to set up Wonderworks together?

We met through work nearly fifteen years ago. Miranda was working for an integrated agency at the time and Sarah was working for a start-up that made Fantasy Football games. Miranda engaged Sarah’s company and together we launched Thailand’s largest fantasy football game for 100 Pipers whisky. The Thais love football!

Several years later the opportunity came up to work together again, so we thought let’s see what happens….We knew we could work together, knew we would complement each other, and knew we were both frazzled hard-working mums both with two boys at home: so we knew how to support each other.

And it seems to have worked.

What does each of you bring to the company? Did you define your roles from the beginning or was it organic?

Whilst we have clear roles now, it was a bit of an organic journey to get there.

We both work equally on the vision and strategy for Wonderworks.

Miranda leads the creative strategy development within the business – coming up with brilliant communication and activation storytelling for our clients. She concepts the creative direction for brands and works closely with the creative team within the business

Sarah manages the business operations and client management side of the business. She leads the client services team.

We have realised that the power for the business and for our clients alike comes from the combination of the two of us: so usually everyone gets a bit of both of us at some point.

Have your roles and way of working together developed as the company has grown?

Yes and no. As we started to grow and build teams we began working less and less together.

After a while we realised that the work wasn’t as good, and we were enjoying it far less. So we had to correct that to ensure that we work together much of the time. We both enjoy working together, and find it gets the best out of us so it’s important to protect that way of working as we scale the business.

What has been your biggest challenge as founders?

There have been many.

Daunting moments of cash flow.

Deciding to do, and then having to make hires and redundancies: something we waited a long time to do putting both our business and personal worlds under more pressure than we should have done.

And finding balance.

If you were teaching a class on how to create the most productive, enjoyable co-founder relationship what would be your top tips?

Communicate, even when it’s hard and around difficult subjects. In fact communicate even more when that’s the case.

Look out for each other: be each other’s wellbeing coach.

Celebrate the highs. There are lows you will suffer together. But don’t forget to celebrate the highs!

What would you advise any co-founders starting out, knowing what you know now?

It’s going to be very, very tough, but stick together, stick with it, and know that it’s ok to change the plan – in fact the plan is 100% going to change along the way. Still having some kind of plan that you have both brought into is incredibly important from the outset, just be ready to change it when the world around you, or you as a person change.

What does the future hold for Wonderworks and yourselves?

Good question! It’s something we are actively discussing and considering regularly at the moment. We know we both want to stick to working with the business, but in what capacity is something we need to explore. We both realise a change is no bad thing: perhaps growing our team so that they run the business so we can step aside from the day to day, focussing instead on working on the business and growing it. The classic move from in the business to working on the business I guess.

What partnership do you really admire and why?

S: Our wonderful Queen and Prince Phillip. Her partnership with her husband appears to have given her strength; no doubt there have been many debates and differences of opinion over the years, but to the outside world they have appeared united, and with unwavering strength. Clearly a result of the partnership beyond their individual qualities.

M: Michelle and Barack Obama. Both awesome in their own right. Intelligent, driven, humble and pretty damn cool.  Together they are great role models of what you can achieve.

And finally what’s your favourite drink?!

S: I would like to say something more creative, but for me it is always a glass of wine. A ‘wine moment’ is always something I savour and enjoy; the grape can vary but the moment is what matters to me.

M: Like Sarah for me it is more about the moment than the drink itself. So not to be cheesy but my favourite drink is one enjoyed with friends – wherever and whatever suits the occasion, G&T or a glass of wine, or a summer cocktail. Who it’s with makes the drink.