Introducing Emily Hilder & Human Brands

We’d love you to give a very big SA Woman welcome to Emily Hilder from Human Brands who steps into the business spotlight this month! 

Em is well known in these parts for her infectious smile & laugh, so the vibe was high when Jess from Jess McEachen Copywriting got to take 5 with her!

In this chat, we dive right into how Em’s specialty is working with purpose-driven brands with messages to share and movements to start. She’s a magician at helping you unearth where your talents, passions & purpose meet – and has helped many do exactly this! You’ll discover how Em went from working with huge global brands and enormous teams, to starting her own business, for the freedom it creates and impact she can have.

Em also reveals how being in the SA Woman membership community is incredibly supportive, and the events leave her walking on clouds for days! Not to mention that being asked to speak at the SA Woman Summit was a career highlight!

This will leave you with a huge smile on your dial, and we’re so grateful to have Em & Human Brands with us in the Business Spotlight for September.

// Thank you for bringing your sparkly self into the Biz Spotlight for September! For those who haven’t met you, can you please introduce us to Human Brands and who you love to work with?

Haha my sparkly self says thanks! I’m a big fan of SA Woman so it’s fab to be here (excited wiggle).

Human Brands is all about helping purpose-driven people grow thriving businesses doing the work that they love.

We’re a core team of two people: I look after the brand and strategy side of things, and my fabulous wing-lady Maddy gets our client’s marketing humming like a hummy thing!

We also have an amazing community of experts who we collaborate with: graphic designers, web folk, copywriters, ads enthusiasts… all wonderful, talented folk.

We have a gorgeous crew of clients and we help them with all sorts of things: from supporting them to talk about their work with confidence and clarity, to getting new concepts ready for market, to devising and implementing lean and smart marketing strategies.

We work with businesses at every stage of their journey: from owner-operated startups (LOTS of lovely SA Woman members!) to larger organisations like Flinders Uni, Adelaide Lightning and People’s Choice.  

We love working with purpose-driven brands with messages to share and movements to start: people who want to do meaningful work that sets their heart on fire, scale their business with integrity and earn a good income in alignment with their values. We’ve been working with many of our clients for years and years, and it’s wonderful to see them go from strength to strength.


// “From a family of writers, artists and huckleberry-finn engineers, Emily was raised with the idea that anything is possible, and everything is worth doing with passion and focus.”

I bloody love this part of your bio! Can you give us some insight into the roles you held before starting your own business (feel free to name drop!), and how that led you to being where you are today?

Ah it’s so true – I have my Dad Rob to thank for that 🙂

Well, I went straight from Uni into a huge advertising agency as a runner – zooming around, sending off proofs, being shouted at and playing practical jokes on everyone.

God only knows how, but someone decided I had a talent for understanding people and how to communicate with them, and I ended up making my way up through the ranks, to the point where I was managing enormous teams with even more enormous clients like Wrigley’s Gum, Haagen Dazs, Telstra and Optus.

It was a wild ride!

I worked in massive agencies all around the world and ended up as Head of Strategy in a big Sydney agency – which was kinda weird for a goofy country girl from Wales – and left it all to start Human Brands in 2013. 


// In a recent social post, you spoke about “The gloriously rich, messy reality of running your own business. Up at 6am reviewing sparkling new Human Brands copy from the excellent Sarah at Heard Write. Two hairy co-workers in attendance, plus a fellow early riser, happy with his Percy Jackson book on a hastily erected daybed. Some call it the juggle. I call it freedom

Mic drop moment. I love how you’ve defined this as FREEDOM.

Was this flexibility the driving force behind starting your own business? And what are the ‘freedoms’ you ensure are built into your working week?

Yes! Totally.

I firmly believe that most business owners are motivated by freedom more than anything else. What I mean is, freedom to do the work they love; the way they want to do it and the freedom to do it when, how, and from wherever they want.

I started my own business for three reasons: 

  1. I had developed some pretty clear ideas about how brand and marketing should be done, and I was having some pretty heavy ethical dilemmas about how I was seeing it done in Agency Land.
  2. I’ve always been a bit of a grafter and I loved the idea of my level of reward (intellectual, emotional, financial) being directly related to the amount of effort I put in.
  3. I didn’t want to have to ask anyone’s permission to take my dog down the beach, go for a surf or go to the Museum with my kids’ class (and get chewing gum in my hair and get told off for letting kids run wild in the botanic garden).

That’s what it’s all about for me. Impact and freedom.


// The women who attended our 2020 SA Woman Summit were absolutely blown away by your talk “Get paid for doing work that you love”. I remember the smiles, the sense of relief & being ‘seen’, the aha moments & the furious note-taking! You took us right through “how to grow a thriving, purpose-driven business: by unearthing the magical intersection of your talents, passions and quirks.

I’m brimming with excitement just reading these words! Now, first up – what are the most common challenges or blocks that you see getting in the way of people following their passion & purpose in biz?

That was such a magical day! I’m still buzzing from it, too!

When it comes to people following their passion & purpose in business, the three most common challenges I see are:

  • They don’t believe that what they have is enough (so they keep adding to their offering and getting themselves and their audience more and more muddled)
  • They don’t think that what they have is unique (Not true! The way you work is almost always unique: you just need an outside-in view of it)
  • They know what they want to do – they just don’t know where to start (stuck in Overwhelmsville, need a plan straight outta there!)

// And then following on from that – what are the benefits of integrating your talents, passions into a purpose-driven business?

OMG the benefits are everything! Work that you’re awesome at – AND love?? That’s where the magic happens.

There are several women in this community who have nailed the magical place between talents, passions and purpose – I can spot them a mile off and you can see it shining from them as they go from strength to strength.


Work that you’re awesome at – AND love??

That’s where the magic happens.

There are several women in this community who have nailed the magical place between talents, passions and purpose – I can spot them a mile off and you can see it shining from them as they go from strength to strength.

Emily Hilder

Human Brands

//  Last but definitely not least, the quirks! Oh my, the quirks. What are the transformations you see in businesses when the humans running them embrace the very essence of who they are? When perhaps they’ve not done so in the past, for fear of it not being professional or something you keep separate?

I’ve worked with so many clients – male and female – who think they need to be someone different in order for their business to succeed. (You know, the old “home persona” vs “work persona” thing.)

But the thing is: once you’re confident in your talents and what you have to offer, your quirks and weird-nesses simply become part of the proposition – part of the uniqueness of who you are.

Which is good news because life really isn’t long enough to keep parts of ourselves hidden away, is it?

I’ve seen it so many times – clients whose businesses take off the minute they bring the full ‘them’ to their work: without fail, their brightness and uniqueness draw the right people to them.


// Overall, for women looking to start their own business right here in South Australia – where do they need to start & what’s the biggest message you have for them?

That’s a great question.

First off I’d say to start with what you love, the work that lights you up.

If there’s one thing I’ve learned over the years it’s that running your own business is one of our greatest opportunities to show up and leave a legacy in the world.

Secondly I’d say to make a plan: lay down the vision for how you want your business (and life) to look in one year, five years and fifteen years.

Then map out the first three steps you need to do to get you closer. Every month, regroup and plot another three steps.

You’ll be amazed how fast it all happens. 


// Now, you’re definitely not an all work and no play kind of gal, are you! What do you love to do outside of work to bring a smile to your dial?

Ooh I love this question. A few of my favourite things are: dawn surfing expeditions with my girlfriends, ocean swimming (even in the winter), stand up comedy, crunchy food, pranks and hanging out in nature with my little fam. 

Meet Emily Hilder from Human Brands

//  It’s so fantastic to have your wealth of knowledge & infectious laugh within our membership! What do you love about being part of the SAW community and what have you gained from it?

Oh my goodness, so much!

We only moved to SA eight years ago and we knew literally nobody here at the time.

Life can be pretty lonely as a business owner and I was definitely feeling this before I joined.

The online community is incredible – genuinely close and supportive – and the events leave me walking on clouds for days.

Being asked to speak at the SA Woman Summit was one of the highlights of my career so far: it was so magical being able to talk about something I’m so passionate about, in front of such a warm, open hearted audience.

// Lastly, a question we do love to ask everyone – where are your favourite spots for a delish working lunch?

In the city I love Hey Jupiter (I lived in France for a year and left with a lifelong love of French foodie goodness).

At home (I live on the Fleurieu) I adore Pearl Aldinga – their school prawns are to die for and there’s nothing quite like having a business meeting while looking at the ocean – it reminds me of why I do this and makes me feel like the luckiest person alive. 


Thanks for chatting with us Em!

Find out more about Human Brands:


Facebook: Human Brands


LinkedIn: Emily Hilder