Tell us a bit about Two Birds Brewing.
We are Two Birds Brewing – Australia’s first female-owned brewery and co-owned by Jayne Lewis and Danielle Allen. We began our quest in 2011 and now have a Brewery and Tasting Room located in Spotswood, an inner-western suburb of Melbourne, and our beers are available nationally, while our export journey is just beginning. We value our independence and strive to inspire people, one beer at a time, to follow their own personal ambitions.
What were you doing before you went into business for yourself?
Jayne had been working as a brewer for almost 10 years and had some ideas on new beers that she wanted to share with the world. I had been in product development and marketing for 10 years and the idea struck us when we were holidaying in the US, after visiting lots of really cool brewpubs and small breweries. Our skills were complementary and it made total sense for us to team up and use our experience to start a brewing company together. Jayne was originally a winemaker by trade but transitioned into brewing after seeing the light and realising that brewing allows a lot more creativity. I had always wanted to start my own business, I just hadn't the light bulb moment but it all became clear over a beer!
What made you want to start your own business?
In a nutshell, Jayne and I had known each other for about 15 years and we were inspired by each other’s passion to get out there and do something that we believed we could totally own.
It was in our DNA.
How did you come up with the name?
We had a very extensive list of names but we weren’t 100% happy with any of them, so we engaged an agency (Red Jelly in Tasmania) and they put forward the name to us. We actually can’t believe that we didn’t come up with it ourselves!
Describe the staff/ownership structure of your Ladystartup.
We launched our first beer together in 2011 and have been growing and building on our business every year since then. We now have 20 employees and a brewery with a Tasting Room in Spotswood, Melbourne. Jayne and I are equal co-owners and we are proudly 100% family owned and have remained this way from the outset.
Did you require investment to start your business? Where did that come from?
We did require initial investment and we both contributed our personal savings.
What kind of advice did you get before you started and from who?
We got lots of advice from family, as we are surrounded by people with small business and large corporate experience.
What’s the single best piece advice you got?
If you don’t ask, you don’t get. You have to spend money to make money.
What’s the one bit of advice you would give yourself if you were starting again?
Take the time to find the right partners and team members and start the search before you get desperate.
At Mamamia we have an expression “flearning” - failing and learning. What have been your biggest flearnings since you have started your business?
Being influenced by too many people and not just trusting ourselves and our own guts.
What is the smartest thing you’ve done since starting your business?
I think we’ve remained really close to our business and I see this as being smart. We still very much work “in” our business, so we have a really good handle on the ins and outs and can catch leakage easily.
Are there any pieces of technology or software, apps or systems that have made it easier to do what you do?
We rely heavily on cloud-based software, as we actually operate from 2 different cities. Jayne is in Melbourne at the Brewery and we set up our admin/accounts/sales and marketing office in Sydney, which is where I am based.
What do you do when you’re feeling like you’re in a hole emotionally (or financially)? How do you handle those ‘deep-trough-of-pain’ startup moments?
Emotionally I stay pretty strong but I do have moments of financial stress. I have a major fret and I realise that I need to take a step back and do what I need to do, to get back to a happy place. This usually involves some quality time with our accountants and we take it 1 step at a time, and thankfully it’s always fine.
How many hours a day do you work on your business? Has this changed? How do you manage your time?
These days I do the standard- 8-9 hours/day as I have a family and my priorities have changed. However, when we were in startup mode for the first 3 years or so, and wearing many different hats, it was very long days and not many days off. It all paid off though!
What are your non-negotiables?
I have to be pretty flexible, as my schedule is really varied but I try to keep trips, particularly OS ones to the bare minimum, no more than a week away from my family.
What's the biggest misconception you had about starting your business - how is it different to what you'd imagined?
For me, I think it’s pretty spot on to what I had thought and hoped it would be actually. I couldn’t see doing anything else and I think I always knew that one day I would be a business owner.
Listen to Jane from Showpo on how she built her business (post continues after audio)...
Tell us about your proudest moment?
I think the initial leap into the world of being an entrepreneur was my proudest moment. I was so scared to ring my Dad and tell him that I had resigned from my safe, well respected corporate job but there was a long pause and then he said “what took you so long”. Relief!
What does your personal life look like? Who are the important people in your life and work?
Hubby and my 2-year-old son are my #1’s. I’m also very close with my brother and sister and their kids and my brother and sister-in-law and their kids. TJ (my son) has lots of cousins and I really love seeing them all play and grow up together.
How much sleep do you get every night?
Not much since I had a baby! It really varies but if I’m home, I definitely go to bed early and prefer that any day over TV.
What can you recommend to women who might want to get their own hustle going?
Just go for it! You only live once and you won’t regret trying. It’s the most rewarding thing you’ll ever do.
Do you have a mentor? Who do you go to for help and advice now?
I don’t have an official mentor but I talk with my parents and family if I need advice, whether it’s personal or business related.
Since we’re in the #LadyStartUp spirit, which Lady Startups do you recommend? Who should we be looking out for?
Since we primarily are working with venues, they might not be the traditional startup you’re imagining! But Smith & Daughters is a female-led team doing amazing things with food in Melbourne, as well as producing cookbooks emphasizing a meat-free life.
Daily Blooms, offering on the spot floral delivery in both Melbourne and Sydney, have created a fantastic little business from starting out on Instagram.
Little Party Dress is also a startup run by a woman just getting out there and doing it! Kelly Purvis runs it all herself and keeps the brand so personal and friendly that it feels like you know her.