DANIELLE ALLEN KNEW SHE WAS ONTO A GOOD THING WITH BEER, AND SHE'S NEVER LOOKED BACK
4 MIN READ
When the idea for Two Birds Brewing was born on a US trip in 2010, Danielle Allen knew she was onto a good thing. She and her co-founder Jayne Lewis had known each other for years, but it wasn't until this point they realised how much they had in common.
Within six months, they'd given up their day jobs (Danielle was working in product development for Woolworths at the time) and put everything they had into establishing Australia's first women-owned brewery. Here, Danielle talks beer, starting their business, and building the Two Birds brand.
It literally all became clear over a beer what I was meant to do. I've always wanted to have my own business, and I knew starting our own brewery was something we were both capable of, and would be damn good at.
Jayne was already an accomplished brewer and I wasn't destined for a corporate career. Growing up my Dad had a number of businesses, so I was accustomed to seeing him start a business in the garage and build it from there.
We weren't getting any younger, so it was a case of now or never!
It was just under a year from initial idea to day one of Two Birds. We funded our business from personal (life) savings to get it going, and there were definitely times where the cash cycle caused us sleepless nights.
Jayne and I each put in equal amounts to get us started and through the first few years, and we financed our first major expansion through personal bank loans with property as security. In the last few years, the business has been able to acquire asset loans because we've built financial history.
We've been really clear since the start, we're not making good beer "for a woman", we're just making good beer. We've always done what's felt right, and the industry as a whole has been incredibly welcoming.
Every beer has its own starting point. Sometimes we want to play with a certain ingredient, sometimes we're inspired by an experience we've had (our Taco was conceived on a plane to Portland after we fell in love with the flavours of fresh tacos while exploring San Diego), and sometimes we just think it'll taste good. We're constantly inspired by the places we visit, the dishes we eat, and the people we meet along the way.
One of the biggest changes for us this year has been the introduction of our pilot system. This smaller brew kit allows us to produce smaller batches of beer, meaning we can test out more unique ideas.
We've brewed more collaboration beers with other breweries and our venues, and tried out different styles, too, like our Jucius Caesar New England IPA and our Stardust IPA, which was created in honour of David Bowie and served with glitter.
I believe staying true to yourself is so important, as consumers are very savvy. Our key values are mainly around authenticity, hard work, creativity and having passion for what we do. It's probably best encapsulated in our slogan, Spread Your Wings. For us, it's really about encouraging people to explore new flavours and have the drive to pursue their dreams. Cheesy, but we really mean it!
Of course, there are tough times, too. I think everyone has moments of doubt or worries that they're not on track, but the key thing is being able to bounce back from it. In the low moments I do a couple of things:
First, I talk it through with Jayne. She's the other side of the coin and can often help me work through whatever it is that's bothering me.
Second, I take time out to be with my family. There's no better way to remember why you're doing it all than having your little boy climbing all over you until you can't stop laughing.
I'm not sure what 'making it' looks like, but there have been some real highlights since we started the brewery. Opening The Nest was a major one, but there have been some pretty incredible moments since then that have felt similarly wonderful.
Brewing a beer with the Western Bulldogs AFLW team was a highlight, and starting to sell our beer in China and other parts of Asia is something I'm working on now – that's proving to be pretty special.
Over the next year you should see more of us at events, particularly around women in sport and music, and we're working hard on getting more of our beer into WA, Queensland, and Asia. It's an exciting time for us. There's always another goal to hit.
My advice to anyone trying to grow a strong business and brand would be to trust in your own vision.Gather up all the information you need, hear out the experts and your loved ones, but ultimately you need to trust yourself.
In saying that, don't be afraid to get outside advice if you need to. You don't have to be an expert in all areas. We work with an amazing design agency who has been with us from the start. I'm so glad we did that instead of trying to figure it all out ourselves.
As I get older, I'm also realising there is no such thing as a hangover cure. As a mother it's basically impossible not to get it together, so my cure is to ignore it!
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