Year 12 Student / Founder of Art IG
I feel it in my bones, Maja Wilbrink is teetering on something massive. In years from now, I can see her featured in all the business greats. Interviewed by The Collective Magazine, her business tips shared in the Financial Review, her scandy-inspired office space previewed online at The Huffington Post – But, before we go on please don’t forget that we discovered her first, or maybe she discovered us… either way, we are claiming this extremely talented, sweet and biz savvy 17 year old as our own.
To understand Maja Wilbrink, one needs to start at the very beginning, and don’t you worry, we do. By the age of seven, this babe had lived in four different countries but was born and bred in the gorgeous country of Sweden. Now living in Brisbane, Maja is seriously a force to be reckoned in the digital space.
Not only is Maja currently studying her final year of the QCE, but she is also slaying the “internet” with a mini e-comm store and Instagram page art.ig which has over 1.6million followers.
If you are like me and has never seen 1.6million of anything in her life then let me put this into perspective. 1.6million is triple the amount of Zoe Foster Blake’s page, double that of E-Commerce beast Stylerunners page and even triple that of one of Maja’s favourite #girlbosses… Lisa Messenger. It’s MASSIVE!
In today’s #careerstory Maja talks us through her current Year 12 year. With colourful precision, she chats about her favourite subjects, what her most visited resources are, and the background behind her hotly visited Instagram page. This interview is for those girls who are hesitant to start a business while in high school because they don’t know if it will succeed. It’s also for the seasoned digital nomads, the new-age agencies and also those heart-centered entrepreneurs (cough cough) that want to make a bigger impact in the world while trying to “crack the internet.”
Maja, you have found a #girlgang for life, thank you for your time!
Let’s Dive in…
Hi Maja, So pumped to have you visit, let’s start at the very beginning, where you grew up? What town did you live in?
Having a dad working in the airline industry, our family moved a lot as I was growing up, so by the time I was seven I’d lived in four different countries. I was born in Sweden, then moved to Perth, then to Japan, then to Sydney, then to Thailand and then back to Sydney! Out of all the places, I would consider Sydney my ‘hometown’ though, because I was there from when I was for the most of my formative years from 7-13. I’m now currently in Brisbane!
Term 2 is nearly over, how are you finding Year 12 so far??
It’s been full-on, but I’m actually quite enjoying it. I’ve found it very similar to grade 11 in terms of the workload, so I felt prepared in that regard – the only thing that’s different is you now have the added stress in the back of your mind of really thinking about what you want to do afterwards. The teachers, for the most part, though have been so supportive. They’re really understanding of your situation and treat you more like equals, which is cool. Everyone always talks about how fast it goes, but it’s actually so true. We just had our ‘100 days to go’ party!
100 Days to go party! So cool. What subjects did you select this year?
I’m studying Modern History, Economics, Philosophy, German, English and Maths.
What is your favourite subject and why?
It’s a really close tie between Modern History, Economics, and Philosophy. As you might have guessed, I absolutely love the humanities and I have such incredible, thoughtful teachers, which makes all the difference.
What is your least favourite subject and why?
Maths has always been something I didn’t particularly enjoy and struggled to get my head around. I don’t hate it, but it’s definitely the one I least enjoy doing, especially since there’s always one exact answer, which annoys me.
What are your top study tips for nailing your exams?
Taking notes whilst you’re going through the content in class helps SO much when it comes to exam prep. I find just writing things out while the teacher is talking or when you’re reading the textbook can help you later on, because then you can just condense them into one big study file with the most important relevant info. My strategy is to create a master document of all the notes you need to learn, and just put all the info there to revise. Also reading the textbook a little bit ahead of class can make a big difference because then you can figure out any questions you have before the teacher teaches it, and the lesson just consolidates your understanding, rather than you learning it for the first time.
What are you planning on doing next year? University? Travel, Tafe?
That is a very good question, one that I’m still figuring out at the moment! I was really opposed to the idea of University for quite a while, as I realised what I’m passionate about (entrepreneurship) isn’t something that’s necessarily certifiable (like medicine, law, education, etc). As of recently, though, after a few conversations with friends, I’ve had a bit of a change of heart and am planning to go to university in Germany to study some sort of degree (not sure exactly what, but probably something general or humanities/business related). A lot of people have told me that university is really about what you put into it, so I want to go more so for the experience, like learning independence and networking with like-minded people, rather than the education itself. It also gives me a bit of a pause on things where I can figure out what exactly I want to do. I’d love to experiment with a few of my own ventures in that time and see how they go, as university won’t take up 100% of my time.
Since university in Germany starts in August/September, it also gives me some time in between to travel and meet new people, sort of like a mini gap-year. I currently work remotely for a company called Flipmass, so I might go visit and work at their HQ in Texas for a bit! I’m thinking of applying for some other internships too to test out the waters in various industries I’m interested in (public relations, advertising).
You have your own business and Instagram account with SO many followers. Why did you start this? Tell us the story of how it began.
It started in 2012 when I made an Instagram with some of my school friends just for fun. I was in grade 7 at the time and Instagram was like the brand new exciting thing, so we started posting and growing it. Eventually, my friends got bored and stopped, but I got genuine enjoyment from posting and seeing the followers go up, so I kept it up. Over time, I ended up building a network of quite a few pages just by putting in a ton of time and effort. For a while, I actually didn’t even realise the whole business underground world that existed. It was only when I noticed a few similar pages posting advertisements that I began to figure things out. I started doing sponsorships with brands, where they would send me free products in return for posts, and then turned into me getting paid in money later on. Later, in 2015, I stumbled upon the Twitter influencer community, which opened
Later, in 2015, I stumbled upon the Twitter influencer community, which opened up, even more, opportunities and incredible relationships. Seeing what other people with similar backgrounds have been able to achieve was so inspiring. I have a lot of brands that work with me on my Instagram, who told they had been getting really good results through my advertisements, so I thought I might as well start one myself! Having a large audience, you basically have no upfront marketing costs, so it’s easy to test the waters. For the last few months, I’ve been experimenting with e-commerce a bit and am planning to hopefully launch a few online stores before I graduate this year.
What are your top tips for of us out there that want to grow our Instagram page and reach ads many people as possible? How have you cracked the platform and grown your account to 1.6 million?
As far as top Instagram tips, firstly I would say that content ALWAYS should be a priority, especially with the new non-chronological feed algorithm which prioritises posts partly based on how often followers have engaged with your posts in the past. When I first started out in 2012 it was a bit easier to get away with not-so-great content as there wasn’t so much competition, but as Instagram has grown and there are more and more accounts, you really need to stand out among everyone. At the end of the day, that’s the main reason people follow you! Don’t be scared to try out a few different styles to figure out what works best.
We love that advice, thank you. I will definitely action some of those tips. To finish can you tell us your advice for girls in Year 12, or heading into Year 12 next year?
It sounds so simple, but just enjoy it! Grade 12 is really what you make it. Of course, it’s important to try to do your best, but at the end of the day, if you put in your best work, you can’t be mad at yourself. Regardless, there are so many opportunities out there and if you want something bad enough, you can get through it through any pathway. Don’t stress yourself out too much and always remember to take time to look after yourself!
List your most valuable resources that you turned to constantly for inspiration in Year 12:
- Favourite Blogs or Websites: THE COOL CAREER! Hands down. ;)
- Instagram Account, or Snapchat that you can’t go a day without checking: @thecoolcareer
- People: Lisa Messenger, Alexia Hilbertidou (founder of NZ Girlboss movement, who I’m currently working with to try to bring the movement to Australian schools as an Australian ambassador!)
- Others: The Collective Hub magazine subscription has been an abundance of inspiration and motivation for me