Naomi Price is the Co-Founder of The Little Red Company and one of Australia’s leading cabaret and music theatre performers, best known for her performances on The Voice Australia, and as pop icon Adele in Rumour Has It and twerk superstar Miley in Wrecking Ball; both award-winning shows written together with Adam Brunes for their production house The Little Red Company.
Naomi says her entrepreneurial journey is indelibly linked to her personal growth.
“I never could have formed a company and written a new show had it not been for the newfound confidence and belief I found after an incredibly difficult period of my life. We’ve all heard the old adage ‘diamonds are made under pressure’ but I truly never expected to experience that first-hand. I’m a big believer in the seven year cycle; it’s said that it takes seven years for your body to grow entirely new skin cells. I had simply reached the end of one cycle and needed to find renewal and rebirth as I moved into the next cycle. The Little Red Company was born out of this time of growth and self-discovery, coupled with the deepening of my friendship with Adam, and it’s been one of the greatest joys of my life.”
Was there a significant turning point when you decided to become an entrepreneur and co-found The Little Red Company?
In 2011, I was faced with what I perceived to be a time of decision for my career. I mistakenly believed that in order to be good at either producing or performing, I would need to focus on one and give the other up. I started applying for a whole bunch of producing and arts administration jobs and considered giving up performing altogether.
Thankfully, I was offered a year-long performance contract at the end of 2011 and I continued on my path as an actor. As that contract was nearing an end, I began to reflect on what I wanted, and wondered if it was possible to have it all. My best friend Adam and I ‘accidentally’ created a hit show, Rumour Has It, and decided to form a company so that people would take us seriously. I’ve now been producing and performing for The Little Red Company for nearly seven years, and I’m so glad I didn’t sacrifice one aspect for the other.
Initially, when you started your business what difficulties did you face?
I would say our initial difficulties were finding and negotiating the means to pay everybody. We said from the outset that we didn’t want the company to be full of ‘hobbyists’. We wanted to work with professional artists – the best of the best – and contribute to the artistic ecology of our city, state and country. Convincing clients, venues and partner companies that our team are worth every cent was tricky to begin with.
Who or what was integral to you overcoming these hurdles?
We stuck to our guns and backed our team all the way. We’ve always believed in our artists as co-collaborators on the work – they are not ‘hired help’ but rather an integral thread in the tapestry of our work.
We created a brand for ourselves where we have remained loyal to our musicians and when people come to see our shows, they know who to expect to see onstage. Our little group of musicians and singers has become a family over the years, and the chemistry onstage is a reflection of the genuine love we all have for one another. I’m glad that we remained steadfast in our commitment to our team, because I don’t think we would’ve experienced the same level of success without them.
What was the best advice that you have been given?
An artist and maker who I admire greatly once said that to remain employed and relevant in this industry, you need to ‘diversify’. I used to think that I needed to dedicate myself to one craft or another, but I’m realising more and more that I have tremendous value as a multi-discipline artist. This year alone I have worked on a musical, a play and a classical-crossover concert tour, as well as producing a national tour for my own company. I’m busy and constantly working on something, but I’m fulfilled and employed and enjoying enormous variety in my work. Every day is different, and thank god!
What do you think your key to success has been?
I think I have an innate desire to work hard and strive for excellence in everything I do. Some people don’t enjoy working autonomously, but I think I’m very self-motivated and suited to the flexibility that self-employment offers.
I also have the very useful ability of surrounding myself with people who are excellent at what they do. I don’t take sole credit for my success to date; I’ve had amazing people believe in me, mentor me, invest in me. I’ve also had a very committed and trusting team who have fearlessly come on each and every ride without hesitation. I’m lucky to have a supportive partner and fierce friends, and I never underestimate their power in keeping me motivated and inspired.
How have you personally measured your success?
When I graduated from university, it felt like an impossible dream to live and work in Brisbane as an artist. Now it’s my reality, and I certainly count that as a measure of success. I also feel like I’ve been able to forge the way for emerging artists and producers to do the same, and I’m a firm believer in legacy and what I can do to help future generations. I never measure success in projects which appear to be impressive but make me unhappy.
Finding joy everyday in what I’m doing is my key objective. Some of my proudest moments have been unpaid appointments or engagements which have brought incredible career development and profile growth. It is lovely to be recognised and acknowledged for your artistic practice, but I’m also intrigued by the seemingly insignificant moments which lead to tremendous joy or personal development.
How do you make the most of your day?
I try to stay on task and focussed, which can be difficult when you don’t have a regulated 9-5 routine. I also have to cut myself some slack if I don’t get everything achieved, or if I don’t feel like I’ve been productive. If I actually sit and write down all the things I’ve actioned in a day, it’s a long list! But I do often fall into the trap of feeling like I haven’t achieved anything.
Self-employment is a fulltime commitment and I often find myself working when others have clocked off. And that’s okay! I also try to stockpile my errands so that I don’t just ‘pop out’ to do one meeting or collect one thing – I try to get multiple tasks achieved on the same trip so I’m not just in and out all day long.
Other than your business, what other hats do you wear?
I’m an actor and performer, so I work frequently for other companies and corporate clients. I’m a mother to two fierce little dogs and a stepmother to one fierce little lady. And I’m one half of ’The Beckhams of Brisbane’ as my partner Luke Kennedy and I are often referred to…! Having a partner in the same industry is equal parts inspiring and terrifying. We understand each other and the demands of our work and schedule, but juggling two freelance incomes can be stressful at times. I would be lost without my calendar app!
What is your favourite thing to do in your downtime?
Cook delicious food – a luxury when you’re often living out of a hotel room. Drink delicious wine. Stay at home! Grow vegetables and herbs in the garden. Spend time with my incredible friends. Watch theatre. Travel and explore the world.
What is your favourite app?
At the moment, I am obsessed with Life Cycle. It tracks your everyday activities like flying, driving, working, eating, buying groceries, and shows you data each day of how you spent your time. It also tracks your steps, which is something I’m very aware of at the moment as I can easily become inactive when I’m working from home. I’ve also enjoyed looking at lists and statistics, so this app has become a useful and enjoyable part of life.
What motivates you?
I think what motivates me the most is the audience. I’m genuinely fascinated by the transformative power of theatre and how the arts can be used effectively to create social change. I’m a very socially conscious person – I read a lot of opinion pieces and try to educate myself constantly about the struggles of marginalised groups, the climate crisis, effective parenting, the widespread impact of organised religion… I’m interested in everything. I think my job as an artist is to raise awareness and assist audiences in their understanding and processing of these topics. I’m motivated by the need to connect, to explore and to share with others.
Who are the women around you that allow you to thrive?
I am so lucky to have incredible women in my life. In the arts and entertainment industry, I am constantly learning from other artists, makers and managers such as Amy Ingram (actor and maker), Christen O’Leary (actor and director), Rachael Rigg (television producer), Katherine Hoepper (producer), Sasha Yabraian (tour manager), Jane Cho (film director and producer) and Lauren Edwards (stage manager). I often turn to these powerhouse females when I am in need of advice, inspiration or support.
I am also incredibly inspired by my kick-ass friends who own and run their own businesses such as Rebecca Hubbard (Dextress Hair), Claire Parviz (Spaghetti House Trattoria), Donna Kramer (Aruga PR) Tracey Watkins (White Label Noba) and Rebecca Easterman (Pillowmint). Running your own business is incredibly challenging, but these women make it look easy and do it with flair and grace.
Who is the wisest woman you know and what have you learnt from her?
My camaraderie with my friend Jayne is probably one of the greatest gifts I’ve received in the last five years. Jayne is a fellow stepmum and has provided support, wine, tissues, laughs and an open ear whenever I’ve needed it. Jayne is insightful, knowledgeable, patient and kind.
I’ve learned to be open and honest, to not shy away from complicated or difficult situations, and to understand that everybody is fighting a battle that we know nothing about. Our stepdaughters are best friends, and it’s been an incredible comfort to share this unique journey with Jayne. I honestly feel like I’m a better person and a better parent because of her.