On a January day in 2007, Brett Galvin and Genevieve Taubman met their first client.
How did they go about it?
They bumped into him. On purpose.
“I called Genevieve one day and she was walking along Macleay Street [in Sydney’s Potts Point],” recalls Galvin. “I was around the corner on Greenknowe Avenue and when we ran into each other she suggested we drop into an exciting new bar about to open down the road. We poked our head into the construction site and a guy came over to see what we were about and we told him we were in PR [public relations] together. It just slipped out.”
Taubman recalls their ‘pitch’ with a similar nonchalance.
“The developer told us they had met with a few people to work on their new venue but were still looking and suggested we meet. He kept asking the name of our company and we kept saying, ‘Brett Galvin’ and ‘Genevieve Taubman’,” Taubman laughs. “Truth was we didn’t have a business name.”
Their strategic communications agency, The Mint Partners, exists today in the hub of Surry Hills. Despite its seemingly haphazard inception, it is the antithesis in practice. The duo hold a reputation as dynamic and focused, with a talent for spotting opportunity when it knocks. Or as in the case foretold, when they knock on its door. After four years in business their client list lends imprimatur, including esteemed brands such as the Art Series Hotel Group, Aqua Dining Group, Tempus Two, Cloud Nine and the International Watch Co.
They met nine years ago when Galvin, then a publicity director at Sydney communications firm Stellar Concepts, was working on Aussie wine brand Brown Brothers and Taubman was handling events and communications for Vogue Entertaining + Travel and Delicious magazines.
Impressions were made.
When Taubman moved out of glossies to take a role as a marketing manager for a major art event, she engaged Galvin’s agency to run the publicity. A working friendship formed and it became evident that the pair shared a common vision for the business and lifestyle they wanted to lead. At the end of 2006, with Taubman flying solo in her own lifestyle consultancy and Galvin engineering his next career move, they began to discuss the idea of collaborating on some projects.
“I wasn’t intending on going into business,” admits Galvin, “but we’d started on a few ventures together and people started calling to say that it was great that we were working together. The more I thought about a business, the more I saw it happening. With her client and media side and my agency side experience, it was a perfect match.”
The partnership was formed with a business plan drawn up after a day’s brainstorming, articulating their goals for the business and their lives.
“We revisit this document and develop it every few months to make sure we are on track and evolving the business in a way that we are both happy with,” says Taubman. “We also openly communicate about what the future may bring. Even with a baby [Taubman is a mother of one], there are no plans to dissolve our partnership. Brett may not have children, but I want to make sure he has the opportunity to take the same amount of time off as I have. We’ve discussed him jetting off to live in New York or San Francisco, something he has always dreamed of doing.”
“I firmly believe that there is life, and there is business,” says Galvin. “You have to keep on living and if that means babies or travel, then so be it.”
As with all start-ups, there have been challenges. Or, as they prefer to call them, “uh oh” moments.
“We had one cash flow management moment early on where we were expecting payment from a number of areas and none were forthcoming,” recalls Galvin. “That was a massive challenge.”
Taubman chimes in: “We decided to give ourselves Christmas bonuses and didn’t think that through very well. Being our first year in business we weren’t aware of the cycle and thought our quiet time would be in December and not February. We won’t make the same mistake again.”
“But it worked out in the end,” says Galvin. “And it was nice to have someone sensible around.”
When it comes to financial control, Taubman takes the lead.
“Gen is more cash conscious,” says Galvin. The pair are quick to recognise their respective strengths and to work to them. “It’s well known that you go into business and you don’t make money in the first year because you invest in all the things your business needs but we were careful to look at growth and investment when we’d made some money.”
Their first office was situated in Taubman’s kitchen, a geography they endured for over six months.
“While it wasn’t ideal, it was good because we were totally self-funded and we didn’t have to borrow any money to start out,” says Galvin. “We managed to save the deposit for the office space we’re in now and get it fitted out. OK, so our office desks from Bunnings but they look great.”
Their differences, according to Taubman, only make them stronger.
“Sometimes I tend to be quite cautious where growth is concerned and Brett forges ahead so we often have to debate and discuss our growth path together. I think that makes us a powerful team.”
They choose to call themselves The Mint Partners due to the positive connotations and soothing colour of mint, and because they felt ‘partners’ said a lot about them working in a partnership with their clients.
“Mint is young and fresh,” says Galvin. “And of course, great in cocktails… or shredded on lamb!”