Annaliese Allen – Founder of Honeybell Waterwear

Doing a ‘done’ list at the end of the day, rather than a ‘to do’ list. I find my ‘done’ list, this is a list of how productive I’ve been, is much more rewarding. It ensures I spend my time on tasks that help me achieve and stops me doing things for the sake of doing things.

Annaliese Allen is a Melbourne (Australian) mother of two preschoolers aged 4 and 2, a corporate accountant turned entrepreneur and founder of Honeybell Waterwear. Honeybell Waterwear is a boutique sun protection clothing label for women. All Honeybell Waterwear garments are made in a breathable fabric that is certified as providing UPF 50+ protection, the highest possible rating available.

Annaliese is passionate about raising awareness of the importance of protecting yourself from sun exposure (90%-99% of skin cancer is related to sun exposure and skin cancer is the most common type of cancer in Australia – in face 2 of every 3 Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer).

As a member of the UN Women National Committee Australia, Honeybell Waterwear is proud to donate 10% of profits to the UN Women. This year the Global Goals for Sustainable Development came into effect. Annaliese believes that if we want to achieve the Global Goals by 2030 we must start by empowering girls and women. Goals that work for women and girls are goals that will work for the world.

Where did the idea for Honeybell Waterwear come from?

I started looking into sun protection for my kids because I wanted them to enjoy the sun safely, and that’s when I learned that the average white cotton t-shirt only has a UPF 5. It was at this point that I considered buying proper sun protection clothing for myself!

But finding a sun protection clothing that I felt confident in was not as easy as I thought – the options were unflattering and unfashionable. The experience got me thinking; if wearing a sun protection clothing is making me feel body and fashion conscious, then other women are probably feeling that way too.

What does your typical day look like, and how do you make it productive?

The kids wake me up anytime between 5am and 6am – we cuddle, chat and read stories in bed as a family, until 6.45am. At which point my husband gets the kids dressed and fed whilst I work. Then at 9am we switch shifts – my husband starts his working day, and I take care of the kids. I am offline for most of the day, doing ‘mom stuff’. I often leave my phone with my husband (he works from home) and he’ll let me know if there are any urgent phone calls or emails to attend to. Once the kids are in bed at 7pm, my next working shift starts up again.

How do you bring ideas to life?

I sit on my ideas for days, weeks even. If it doesn’t go away, my first step in turning it into a reality is to share the idea with the target audience. I collate a variety of verbal and nonverbal feedback, asking how they would expand, change, market, and price the idea if it were theirs. From there you have a great base to start putting together a business plan. The key to this being a success is to have a great network that you can trust and asking the right questions.

What’s one trend that really excites you?

Bye bye bikini. There will always be a market for the bikini, but it is no longer a growing market. Retailers in the northern hemisphere reporting a rise in sales of one-pieces and Victoria’s Secret have closed their ‘swim’ line, which was predominately skimpy bikinis, to make way for their expanding athleisure offering.

In fact, I think athleisure has been the biggest influence in the trend away from sun-kissed bikinis babes – the athleisure trend has really changed our idea of a ‘perfect body’ from tanned and sexy to strong and sporty. Even the term ‘bikini body’ is now a little controversial, for many this now represents an ideal we love to hate.

What is one habit of yours that makes you more productive as an entrepreneur?

Doing a ‘done’ list at the end of the day, rather than a ‘to do’ list. I find my ‘done’ list, this is a list of how productive I’ve been, is much more rewarding. It ensures I spend my time on tasks that help me achieve and stops me doing things for the sake of doing things. Because I’m not just listing intangible tasks or wishful thinking, just seeing how much I have achieved is motivation enough to keep going to reach the bigger, life-changing, goals… one day at time.

What was the worst job you ever had and what did you learn from it?

The worst job I ever had was working as a cashier in a takeout restaurant. The pay was crummy, the shifts were short and late, and I absolutely stunk of fried food. It helped me realize why I was going to school – it was clear to me that I could run that place, not just take orders, but needed my education to do this.

If you were to start again, what would you do differently?

I would start sooner. I started Honeybell Waterwear as an already tired (exhausted!) working mum with a family to support and a large mortgage. I didn’t have any of those responsibilities 10 years ago!

As an entrepreneur, what is the one thing you do over and over and recommend everyone else do?

Just keep going. My favourite Japanese proverb; Fall seven times and stand up eight.

What is one strategy that has helped you grow your business?

Networking with likeminded people – and specially for me, moms in business. Having no experience in the fashion industry, no experience at being an entrepreneur and no experience running my own business I just started by simply asking questions and researching, learning, connecting and networking. Thankfully, women-owned businesses are the fastest growing segment of the entrepreneurship economy: there is no lack of resources, support or community of like-minded women.

What is one failure you had as an entrepreneur, and how did you overcome it?

When I decided to start a business in the fashion industry I started attending fashion industry events. It was demoralizing. There was a lot of eye-rolling as I pitched my idea and the overwhelming feedback was that this was a great way to lose my money and waste my time.

Reflecting back, I agree that it was right of the industry to be so openly pessimistic: If a fashion designer had come to me and told me she wanted to be an accountant, I would have reacted in the same way.

What is one business idea that you’re willing to give away to our readers?

Diaper bag and handbags for moms that have a great design aesthetic, but are also a little more functional – specifically, mesh bottoms to get rid of crumbs, waterproofing. I see these features appearing in beach bags now, but they are also needed in other bags that moms carry! I do not think anyone is nailing the intersection between fashion and function.

What is the best $100 you recently spent? What and why?

I treated myself to a haircut and blow wave – and yes, for a self-funded start-up founder, this is a treat. From the hairdressers I went straight to a corporate lunch to network, pitch and learn. The process of getting my hair done was not only relaxing and allowed me to chill and focus – but the end result had my confidence soaring. I wowed the room.

What software and web services do you use? What do you love about them?

I use Xero for accounting – so intuitive and super easy to use and get started. Post Planner and Grum for social media- great tools to start out given their low price points. Shopify as my ecommerce platform – so many great templates and apps, you do not need any technical skills to get you started.

What is the one book that you recommend our community should read and why?

Upside of Stress by Kelly McGonigal. This is the one book that has actually changed my life. I can’t think of any other book I would say that about… but there are many books I have not yet read. I found the book through McGonigal’s TED talk titled “How to Make Stress Your Friend”. If you’re not a book lover, at the very least you should listen to this TED talk.

What people have influenced your thinking and might be of interest to others?

Tim Ferriss (author of the 4-Hour Work Week, angel investor and podcaster – among other things). He explained how instead of getting an MBA, he invested the tuition dollars into angel investing. He had the attitude that if his investments made no money he would not look at them as failures. Rather they were real-world experiments and those experiments were far more valuable than any theoretical training. This idea resonated with me. I didn’t want to be yet another MBA graduate, I wanted to create my own business – and do so without the financial or mental stress of having to be ‘successful’.


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