While working in Darwin for contemporary music body MusicNT, Curtin alumna Amy Hetherington met many artists with incredible skills and talents, but noticed a gap in their experience in promoting their work. Equipped with a mass communications degree and a positive attitude, Hetherington made it her goal to fill that gap.
Hetherington is the successful founder and manager of Amiable Communications, a Darwin-based consultancy that offers a diverse range of services to artists, individuals, groups and organisations. These services include publicity and marketing, artist support and management, filmmaking, photography, professional writing, media production and workshops. But the list doesn’t end there – Hetherington also offers MC services and is a stand-up comedian. She is the ultimate jack-of-all-trades for anything creative.
“I started Amiable Communications because I saw there was a gap for media, communications and marketing services for arts, youth and community organisations in Darwin,” says Hetherington. “It began as a way to market my freelance skills with a mass communications degree after I moved to Darwin, but it has since rolled into a full-time business and it seems to be successful!”
Darwin may not be the first place you would imagine a creative consultancy to flourish, but its unique location and diverse history has forged a culturally rich community that is open to new ideas and adventures, and is steadily carving a name for itself in the creative industry. Plus, with Hetherington’s outgoing personality and genuine enthusiasm, it hasn’t taken her long to win over the locals.
“Darwin is big and driven-enough to have amazing opportunities and events, but small enough so you can really make an impact and feel appreciated,” says Hetherington on working in the top-end city. “I love the people here and the multiculturalism, but most of all I love that people here are willing to give things a go.”
Hetherington already has a large portfolio of clients since starting Amiable Communications four years ago. One client is local band At the Dakota, whom Hetherington manages; she has just finished finalising their national tour. Though she may be particularly invested in the band’s success (the keyboardist is her husband), the young businesswoman says it’s crucial for artists to have the skills and knowledge required to navigate the business side of their work.
“The more an artist understands the business that’s happening around their art, the more they can play in the space with the gate keepers and the decision makers of their industry,” Hetherington says. “I’d never suggest an artist to create art based on their knowledge of the industry, because then they aren’t creating – they’re just filling a brief – but I do think the more you know about the marketing side of things, the way decisions are made and how the business of your scene operates, the stronger an artist you will be.”
As well as managing musicians, Hetherington also runs interactive workshops for young people and community groups. For the bright and bubbly 28-year-old, the workshops are a definite job highlight.
“I love sharing skills and helping people own their content and stories,” explains Hetherington. “It’s community-building and a sustainable way for me to operate in Darwin.
“A lot of the workshops have been for young people aged 25 and under and include filmmaking, smart phone photography, public speaking, job interviews, comedy, social media influencing and more. And then the other workshops are for businesses and groups seeking professional development. These tend to be on social media marketing, brand development and public speaking or engaging the public.”
Hetherington says she regularly draws on the skills she learned in her Mass Communications degree to help her run her workshops and other business services.
“I built my entire business around the fact that I have a multi-disciplinary degree. Film, photography, writing, marketing and social media were all elements of my degree so it’s definitely been worth it for me,” she says. “Having a firm grasp of theory to back up my practical skills really makes me confident in pitching my services – I don’t think I would have that drive without the degree.”
But it’s also Hetherington’s innate people skills that have made her business thrive. She has astutely turned her passion for being involved, meeting new people and discovering their stories into a successful and rewarding career.
“I get energy from positive feedback and meeting people. I love other humans and I love knowing how I have helped or been involved in their world somehow,” she says on what puts the amiable in Amiable Communications. “It amazes me how many billions of stories and thoughts there are in the world, and to think you’ve crossed over another story in a positive way is such an inspiring and energy-lifting thought for me.”
Hetherington is currently working on multiple projects, and is ideally hoping to bring other freelancers into her business to help them kick-start their own creative careers. Whatever she takes on in the near future, there is no doubt it will be with absolute positivity.
“I never imaged the business to be so successful, so I’m stoked about that. I’m very proud of Amiable Communications and I’m excited to see how it grows from here.”
As well as being a successful businesswoman, Amy is also an accomplished comedian. She did her first gig as a dare to help raise funds for a charity in 2013, but discovered she “absolutely loved it.” She has since performed sold-out shows at the 2017 Perth Fringe and Darwin Festival, and was a finalist in the 2017 Melbourne International RAW Comedy competition. Amy has also supported comedy greats including Glenn Robbins, Fiona O’Loughlin, Steve-O and Adam Hills.
“I never thought I’d be a comedian, I always thought I was too lame,” she says. “In hindsight, my love for story telling and making things more fun for people was inevitably going to lead to something like this.”
Search @AmyHetheringtonComedy on Facebook to see her latest escapades.