Coastal Entrepreneurship: How a Byron Bay woman creates impact and legacy for her clients

Odette Barry, a publicist and PR mentor based in Byron Bay, shares her journey and business model aimed at making PR accessible for small businesses. She discusses the significance of networking, navigating risk, and the invaluable role of expert advice in business success.

6 minute read
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We love sharing stories about women in business, their journey so far. Can you tell us a little bit about your journey and a pitch about your business?

I am a publicist, but I'm also a PR mentor. My whole business model for the last five years has been to teach founders and leaders how to DIY their own PR, because I moved from Melbourne to Byron Bay eight years ago, and when I moved here I fell into the most incredible business community. One of the things that I found being a publicist, our retainers can be $10,000 a month, and they're normally three to six months in length. For small businesses operators, that's really expensive, and not something that everyone can afford to invest in. But when I looked around my community, I could see all these amazing humans that were doing really cool things and they couldn't afford a publicist. I'd worked in corporate communications for Westpac and worked in the media side within Women's Fitness magazine. And so in the first couple of years of running my business, it was all agency model.  

Then I realised that if I really wanted to serve those people that lit my soul on fire, I needed to come up with a solution that sort of made being visible in media accessible to them. For the last five years, I've been teaching PR to founders. And, you know, there's thousands of headlines that these beautiful founders have generated for themselves over the years.  

Do you like to network? What are the reasons you do it? And can you share some of the ways that you might do this digitally?

It's a hard yes on that one for me. I work alone at home because I basically talk nonstop in my work and for me to be in a coworking office space is actually - I am a nightmare for anyone else to be around. I have to be really intentional about stacking my week to have those connection points. On Mondays I go for a walk with the former Chief Financial Officer of Adidas. On Tuesdays I go for a walk with my Co Founder of Launch Pad Australia, where we talk about the media and business opportunities. On Wednesday I go for a walk with a Climate Consultant, I very intentionally stack my week with movement and a business friend so that I have those opportunities. Thanks to beautiful Chris who I go for a walk with on Tuesday, we've co-founded a business community in Australia for exactly that reason to create those opportunities to network.  

I thoroughly enjoy networking, but I also do understand why a lot of people struggle with it, because it is really hard to show up in a space where you don't know someone. It's much easier when you've got a wing woman who you can show up with and have that person that you can be awkward with together. I also think that when you show up alone, you fast track that connection process with strangers because you don't have that buddy to like place safe with. Whereas when you're on your own, you just are forced into the conversation.  

I wanted to flip our conversation a little bit to more on the relationship to this concept of risk. How would you describe your relationship to risk?
Initially I would have said that I've got a reasonably high-risk tolerance. But then I sat with that and I thought, but my husband works full time, and we could totally survive on his salary if things went completely bust. So, when I can make risky or courageous decisions in my business and decide to change my business model as I did five years ago, to someone that didn't have that fall back comfort like my household finance, that would have been extremely risky. And of course, it was, but it totally paid off. I was able to make that risky decision because of coming from a reasonably safe space. So, maybe my tolerance for risk is actually quite appalling and I make quite calculated decisions based on what we can actually handle, if that makes sense.
I feel like a lot of people, don't acknowledge their privilege of having a partner who supports them in their business. I have a lot of friends that are single mums and their experience in business is entirely different, being the sole breadwinner for their family unit.

I just have so much admiration and respect for how they do what they do and the way they show up for themselves and for their children. There's never been a time that my business hasn't been really supportive for our family. But I also know that I've been able to make quite bold decisions that perhaps someone who couldn't be exposed to the fallout of those decisions, that the fallout would be absolutely unbelievable.

What role has expert advice played in your business?

Everything. Absolutely everything.  It’s funny, I, I had some conversations with someone the other day and they were like, “I just I don't want to be too obstructive and ask for too much advice from you”. This is a friend that I go for a run with quite regularly. I was giving her some guidance in her business and I just reminded her that at no point could anyone ever exhaust me of the advice that I feel indebted to give other people. Because of the level of kindness and sharp, strategic guidance I’ve been really lucky to receive throughout my business from financial guidance to HR. Guidance through to marketing strategies and all of these some paid for some contra trades, and some from my beautiful community. The level of advice and guidance that I've been able to tap from my network of experts has been transformative - from my mental health through to the business ecosystem. I think just having that friendship...I would have shut doors many moons ago if it was not for expert advice in my community.

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