Interview: Vivan Vo of Small Fry
Tom Cushing | On 04, Jun 2015
With years of experience as a publicity specialist and presenter/producer on community radio, Vivan Vo has hatched PR firm Small Fry. Specialising in radio and online publicity for bands, Small Fry is a Melbourne based company with a passionate music lover at the helm. We talk with her about mantras, Forever Friends necklaces and how she forced her dream into reality.
The Creative Issue: What was the process that took you from a secure job in PR to starting your own business?
Vivan Vo: Once I had decided that I wanted to start my own business, I spent a fair bit of time talking with friends and colleagues who work in the music industry, seeing what they thought of the idea and asking for their advice.Â Knowing that there were people behind me, supporting me was really helpful.
Then it was about setting up a timeline for the logo, website, business cards, social media, when to launch the company and sticking with that timeline. I also came up with goals for what I want for the company and continually referring back to it.Â Itâ€™s a really scary thing to quit your job and start your own thing. So you have to keep going back to that mantra and keep reminding yourself why youâ€™re doing this.
TCI: Why are you doing this? What is the goal?
Vivan Vo: I want to work with good people making good music. That’s the brand I want for the company. I want to work in a community of people supporting each other.
TCI: What was your process for developing a brand name and design aesthetic?
Vivan Vo: I thought my brother used to call me â€œSmall Fryâ€ when we were younger, but it turns out that he used to call me â€œFor Friâ€. I had one of thoseÂ â€œForever Friendsâ€Â necklaces and I had the â€œFor Friâ€ half. So it wasn’t exactly accurate but once I thought of Small Fry it kind of stuck. It was very reflective of the type of person I am and Iâ€™m kind of accepting that Iâ€™m this small company in a big industry.
For the logo, I met an illustrator at the pub who was constantly drawing. His designs were cartoony and cute. When I pitched him what I was doing, he already had ideas of how his style would suit my brand. Then he came up with the little bird with long legs and matched the font and it just made sense.
TCI: At what point did Small Fry feel like a real thing, rather than just an idea you had?
Vivan Vo: There was this moment when I was in a friendâ€™s backyard, having drinks, and I was telling everyone â€œIâ€™m starting a new company, I’m quitting my job and launching my own publicity company,” and as we were talking about it, my designer sent through the logo. And it was at this moment where I thought, “This is happening now. This is happening and thereâ€™s no going backâ€. And it all snowballed from there.
Another moment was starting theÂ Facebook page. It was like, if itâ€™s on Facebook then Iâ€™m â€œIn a Relationshipâ€ with Small Fry now.
TCI: Is there something in the process of starting a business you didnâ€™t expect?
Vivan Vo: I didn’t expect everyone to be really supportive. I knew that was going to be another publicity company in a big industry, just another competitor. But everyone has been super supportive. Itâ€™s kind of like when youâ€™re in a band and your mate is in a band and you see him doing really well, youâ€™re not going to be like â€œscrew him and his band.â€ Youâ€™re gonna be like, â€œHeck yeah, thatâ€™s awesome.â€ It should be like that.Â We should be thisÂ community of people supporting each other.
TCI: Whatâ€™s coming up for Small Fry in the immediate future?
TCI: Any words of advice for those looking to start their own business?
Vivan Vo:Â If you think you’re ready and have the experience to back your company, just do it. Itâ€™s really fucking scary but you just need to do it. Get everything in place, build a timeline, set goals and a mantra and then just stick with it. Because once itâ€™s out there, you canâ€™t stop.
Image Credits: LogoÂ courtesy ofÂ Small Fry, 8 Bit LoveÂ portrait courtesy of Paige X. Cho,Â Vivan Vo portrait courtesy ofÂ Â Warren Harrison