Meet ‘The Illys’: Aruga’s all-new dynamic duo here to pack powerful PR punches

7 minutes read

Holy dynamic duo! We’re overjoyed to welcome Lilly Caldwell and Tilly Yapa to the Aruga team as media megastars in the making. 

Affectionately dubbed “The Illys” within 30 seconds of stepping foot in the building, the powerful pair are fresh-faced additions to our Public Relations and Marcomms teams.

The two share a tertiary education at the Queensland University of Technology (QUT), an eye for fabulous work-week fashion and an equally effervescent nature that’s seen The Illys seamlessly become valued members of the crew. When it’s right, it’s so right.

Get to know newbies Lilly and Tilly!


How did you feel walking into Aruga on your first official day? 

Lilly: Raring to go! It felt surreal. Aruga had always been in my pipeline so, to be finally working in a dream role was a ‘pinch-me’ moment. From the first chat with DK, Adam and Nat to the second I walked in, there was nothing but warmth and support from everyone. Sometimes with a new job, there is an awkward ‘new person’ feel but there was absolutely none of that!

Tilly: Having spent a little time at Aruga, I was lucky enough to be surrounded by warm and familiar faces. I was, however, incredibly nervous. I had spent the past eight years working in the retail sector and only had a brief stint working on Marcomms for a very small company. Agency life was a very new concept. It was one thing to be interning but a whole different ball game to be employed.


What are you most excited to learn more about at Aruga?

Lilly: The arts and entertainment media landscape. This is Aruga’s bread-and-butter, what the agency is known for in Brisbane. Each person has incredible contacts they’ve refined over years. While I have previously worked with clients in this space, it has not been as frequent and honed as at Aruga.

Tilly: I’m excited to be a part of client meetings and strategy sessions with team members. PR is a client-orientated industry that I’m keen to jump back into. Even though selling bespoke skincare regimens to clients is very different from creating strategic plans, the element of getting to know a client and delivering a promise is very much the same.


Since joining the crew, pick a stand-out moment or highlight from your time so far.

Lilly: Being a part of a moment in history as the first passengers touched down at the Gold Coast Airport’s $260M expansion was amazing. With an early Channel 7 Sunrise weather cross, we started the day at 3.30am – thank goodness for concealer! Bared Footwear unveiled its new James St shoe haven recently and I was delighted to work on this account with Rylee. In my first year of university, I listened to Cub Sport nearly every day, on the bus and between classes – they were my jam. Cub Sport played a live DJ set at the VIP launch night for Bared, and it truly felt like a round-circle moment from the universe and a sign that my studies had paid off.

Tilly: What comes to mind is an Aruga event I was very fortunate to be invited to during my internship. For Aruga’s End of Financial Year celebration, we were taken to Mt Tambourine and enjoyed lunch and wine tastings at Mason’s Winery and Witches Falls Winery. This was also the day I met Lilly for the first time! We sat on the bus ride together and discovered we both had similar interests and tastes. It was there that I learnt she would be starting in a few weeks. When I was offered a place at Aruga, it was a treat to know I’d be working with Lilly.


Where did your PR and Comms journeys begin before joining Aruga? 

Lilly: Before Aruga, I worked at another Brisbane PR and Marketing Agency for 18 months, working with fashion, hospitality and lifestyle brands. I am in my last two weeks of a Bachelor of Business, majoring in Marketing and PR, at QUT. I was also Student and Communities Director at QUT’s Advertising, Marketing and PR Society (AMPed), of which Aruga is a gold sponsor.

Tilly: My initial introduction to Aruga was through the Rumbletown Pathways Scholarship — though I was unsuccessful, I was offered the opportunity to intern one day a week for six weeks. So, you could say before Aruga, I was at…well, Aruga.

Before this internship, I had limited experience within the PR sector. I am currently studying for a Bachelor’s degree in Business, majoring in PR and minoring in Fashion Communications. In 2021, I interned with a Brisbane-based theatre collective which progressed my knowledge of marketing and advertising which is incredibly useful in my current role as a Public Relations & Marcomms Account Coordinator.


What has been a challenge you’ve faced and overcome since joining Aruga? 

Lilly: I haven’t worked in a team environment this large before and while every person has been welcoming, I’ve been learning each person’s working style so we can best come together for joint projects. I wouldn’t say this is a challenge, just a transition to find the best way we can work together and put our brilliant minds to use.

Tilly: I am currently still at university and working four days. It’s perfect because it leaves me ample time to study but having to change my schedule and prioritise evenings and weekends to study has been an adjustment.


In which ways are you excited to grow or achieve professional goals in the next 90 days? 

Lilly: I would like to work with more incredible clients like Bared Footwear and Heart of Gold Short Film Festival.

There are so many interesting team members, all with their own personalities and quirks, so after 90 days, I hope to get to know each of them on a more personal level. Everyone always has something to teach, whether that be professionally or personally.

Every agency is different and Aruga knows what it’s doing. Media relations is our thing and I’m eager to learn even more about the team’s PR and Marketing strategies, what goes into them, mistakes they’ve made and pivoted from, why a client may have a certain approach and so on.

Tilly: In the next 90 days, I hope to have further developed my writing approach. I come from a creative writing background and always remind myself to be more direct when analysing aggregate data. I would also like to be quicker with sourcing assets and creating content calendars.


And finally, West End snack merchant Mick’s Nuts is an Aruga staple. What was your choice on arrival and how do you see that changing in the next 90 days?

Lilly: I haven’t been around for a Mick’s Nuts run yet but funnily enough, it’s one of my dad’s favourite places so I will check them out soon!

Tilly: Mick’s Nuts and I have been acquainted for almost 12 years. When I discovered it was just down the road, I sweated a little for my bank balance. My initial choice was a bag of chocolate-covered pretzels and dried apples. Moving forward, I’m going to assume my favourites will change to nut butter and muesli only because that’s what I’m craving right now!