THREE years ago, Vesna and Zoran Kirkovski’s marriage wasn’t working, but their fledgling business was.
Despite being warned by many that it would likely “all end in tears” within six months, the separated couple decided to continue growing their business together, rather than dissolve it.
They were adamant that it would work. And it did.
“There is emotion involved, naturally. Especially in the early days when we were going down that path in deciding we no longer wanted to be married,” Vesna says.
“But we always had the foundation of being friends. And more importantly than friends, we have four amazing children we are responsible for. We wanted everything to be as functional and as easy for them as possible. We made it work.”
Their business, Wild and Free Media, is an integrated marketing and advertising agency based at The Junction.
It began, initially with a different name, in 2009, when Vesna started working from her kitchen bench after the birth of their second child.
“The agency environment is not typically family-friendly,” she says. “It can be quite cut-throat, and God forbid you want to start a family and have a three-day working week. But after having my second child, I couldn’t go back five days a week.”
Starting the business meant she could could still do the same hours, but work around the kids.
When they opened the agency at The Junction in 2014, they wanted to “break the corporate mould” by offering more workplace flexibility for their staff – whether they were having their own families, or wanting to take three months off to travel – in the hope it would help everyone achieve that elusive work/life balance.
“If a business falls on hard times, it’s the culture of the organisation which is going to get you through,” Zoran says. “To have a really good culture, your employees need to be happy, healthy and engaged. And if we can be a family-friendly environment, and accommodating to our staff, that helps.”
The business partners are careful not to blur the line between their domestic and professional lives at work.
School pick ups and soccer training schedules are discussed outside of the office, typically over coffee.
“There is never any animosity, but if there is something that needs to be dealt with on a domestic level, we don’t want our staff to be subjected to that, we keep it very professional,” Zoran says. “We had one client suggest we do a Ted Talk about how we make this work.
“But it was just like the natural progression of our relationship. Just because we had a marriage that dissolved, doesn’t mean it needed to be an inhibitor to the business.”