Jess Hunichen: Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur

Today’s Notable Young Entrepreneur is Jess Hunichen, who moved to Toronto from Australia and needed just one year to launch her own successful boutique communications agency. We caught up with her to find out where she likes to wine and dine in the city, as well as what advice she would share with other young professionals…


Elevator Pitch: Describe your job in a nutshell.
Shine PR is a boutique communications agency based in Toronto. We love PR. And all things shiny.

Why did you start working at your company? What was the inspiration for this career route?
When I moved to Toronto a year and a half ago, I really wasn’t sure what I wanted to do work-wise. So after a few months of travelling and thawing out (I moved here in February of 2014), I decided to start doing some freelance work and met my crazy clever partner in business crime, Emily Ward. We worked together for a couple of months and towards the end of 2014 we decided to bite the bullet and start our own agency. On January 2, 2015, Shine PR was born.

What is the best part of what you do on a day-to-day basis?
Watching our team grow and shine makes me smile from ear to ear. We have such an incredible group of girls working with us, and seeing how much they believe in what we are doing and want to be a part of it is super exciting. They are little superstars.

The most challenging part?
Learning all of the Australian phrases that people don’t say in Canada! I am constantly being told, “we don’t say that here.”

What is one sign that you’ve seen over the years to suggest that your work/life balance is off?
I’ve always had jobs that have been a lot of fun. Before I moved to Toronto, I worked in television, so the line between work and life was certainly blurred – but I love that. I work crazy hours now and working for yourself means that you never really switch off, but it is all to grow something that I am so invested in so it just comes with the territory.

Where do you see yourself in five years?
The goal is to create a work environment that allows me to get home as much as possible, so an Australian office is definitely on the agenda. Hopefully in well under five years. Watch this space.

What is one major challenge that you’ve had to overcome in your career?
Moving to a city where I knew only one person and not knowing what I was going to do for work. So very daunting. I’d always had jobs that were a huge part of my social life, so I wanted that in Toronto too, and it didn’t come as easily as I would have liked.

How did you overcome it?
I really had to cut myself some slack, something I’m not used to doing. I’d expected things to move too fast. So I gave myself some time, slowly (in my mind, anyway) built my network, and eventually everything fell into place.

What does success look like to you? Does Money = Happiness?
If you are genuinely happy doing what you are doing, I would call that success. And I certainly am. Of course making money helps. I did mention that we like shiny things, right?

What is the most memorable milestone in your career?
Being able to launch an agency after just a year in a new city. I don’t often stop to think about it but when I do, I am super proud of myself.

Do you have any advice for other young professionals?
Get as much experience as you can before you graduate. Meet as many people as you can; it is never too early to start building your network. And never be afraid to ask for what you want.

Where is your favourite place to wine/ dine in your city and why?
The restaurant scene is definitely one of my favourite things about Toronto and it reminds me a lot of Melbourne. There are so many, but right now I love Bar Buca. They have a killer beet cocktail. Gusto 101 is also great, and for daytime loveliness, I’m always at Colette at the Thompson.

When you’re not working how do you love to spend your “Me” time?
You’ll most likely find me in a restaurant… a long lunch is my favourite pastime.

Where is your favourite place to travel? Why?
This is a tricky one for me. I guess going home to Australia is considered travelling now, so of course that is number one. Can I be greedy and choose another? Yes? Ok. Italy. The food, the wine, the people… I just feel at home there. It is an ongoing love affair.

If you had to choose a theme song, what would it be?
Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now. What a song.

If you weren’t doing what you’re doing, what would you be doing?
I always wanted to be a wedding planner. I like to be surrounded by beautiful things. We have been lucky enough to work on several projects with Laura Olsen Events and Love by Lynzie, so my wedding passion is covered for now.

Do you support any charities? If so, which one(s) and why is that important to you?
Giving back is definitely important to me. Currently I am working with Leadership Sinai and the Children’s Aid Foundation.

What to you is notable?

Blackberry, iPhone, Android, or Other?
iPhone, always. Technology is not my friend and it’s too late for me to change now.