Therese Tarlinton, the 331st person I’ve met on my quest to have lunch with 500 strangers, is one of those shining stars you encounter from time to time – someone with a compelling story, a sharp business brain and a sparkling personality.
When Therese was in her twenties, and thinking about making the switch from corporate marketing manager to entrepreneur, a life-changing incident occurred.
Therese was in America and came across a baby stroller in a Toys R Us store. Two things made this stroller special – it had licensed a famous brand name (Jeep) and had been manufactured with inflated tyres (which was practically unheard of in Australia at the time).
Coincidentally, Therese was in America to attend a baby trade show. The Jeep Strollers manufacturer was also at the show. So Therese mustered the courage to approach the manufacturer and ask for the distribution rights in Australia. She succeeded.
Therese then did another brave thing – she spent $40,000 to order a container-load of 240 strollers. Within weeks, she’d sold all of them: half at a baby fair and the other half to retail stores.
Therese’s business took off. Aussie mums loved the Jeep Strollers, as did the media. That prompted Huggies to approach Therese and suggest a partnership, which involved advertising her strollers on the sides of their nappy packs. That generated more sales and media coverage, and helped Therese earn a distribution deal with Target.
A few years later, Therese had another brainwave. She approached United Colors of Benetton to ask for the rights to licence their name in Australia. They thought it was such a good idea that they asked for global expressions of interest. That forced Therese to compete against large, cashed-up companies – but she triumphed. So she ended up selling United Colors of Benetton-branded strollers as well.
Therese eventually sold the baby business. These days, she’s a marketing consultant and keynote speaker. I’ve been lucky enough to see her speak and she’s very impressive.
Therese is also the author of Swap: Marketing Without Money, the bestselling book that teaches companies how to promote their business through strategic partnerships. I’ve got a copy of the book and am looking forward to reading it soon.
I loved meeting Therese and hearing her story. Therese is an example of how much we can achieve if we think creatively, take risks and ask important people for big things.