Who are you and what is your background?
Jayne Lewis, co-owner of Two Birds Brewing – Australia’ first female-owned brewery.
Your job and current title?
Co-owner and Brewer Bird
In what city?
A word to define what type of worker you are:
Where does your interest in microbrewery come from?
I previously trained as a winemaker, but saw the light and decided to explore brewing instead as it offered so much opportunity to play with different ingredients and flavors.
What makes your beer unique? Why?
We focus on creating approachable and flavourful beers that are always a little bit fun! They’re also often inspired by our travels or dishes we’ve enjoyed, such as our Taco which was created after falling in love with tacos in San Diego.
What is the size of the brewery (number of barrels per year, etc.)?
Our brewhouse is 20hL and we brew about 1 million L of beer a year.
What tools are essential to your life (app, software)?
We use VicinityBrew software to track our inventory, record the quality measurements and help us plan our production.
What does your office space look like?
We’ve had an increase in staffing over the last year, so it’s a busier office than it used to be! We have two offices – one in Melbourne where the brewery is, and a second office in Sydney where my co-owner Danielle Allen is based. Both offices are open plan and pretty casual.
Do you have a way to organize your days to optimize your work?
My days are determined by our brewing schedule, so each day is different depending on what needs doing. I do have a beanbag that I sit in when having phone meetings or if I need to get any serious thinking done.
Any “tips” to improve productivity?
That’s where the beanbag comes in! I can’t think completely creatively if I’m supporting my own weight, so lying down on the beanbag lets me free up brain space for thinking creatively or working through a problem. It also feels like you’re in a cocoon, so it feels very safe. I’ll often be much more productive there than sitting at my desk.
Can you give us a tour of your local craft beer brewery scene?
We’re in Melbourne’s western suburbs, which is currently going through a really interesting growth phase. We’ve been out here in Spotswood since 2014, and another brewery called Cavalier is out a bit further west too. We’ve since been joined by a brewery called Hop Nation, and quite a few craft beer-focused venues have also opened in recent years. It’s turning into a really vibrant part of Melbourne and we’re proud to be a part of it!
How do you control the growth of your microbrewery?
Our main focus is always on our customers here in Australia, but we’re starting to expand our footprint into parts of Asia as well. We’re doing that in a consistent and steady fashion rather than going crazy straight away, which helps to keep our sales in line with our production plans for the next few years. It’s always a delicate balance to make sure you’re keeping things growing at the right rate.
What is your strategy for making your beer known? (tastings, festival, etc.)
We love being a part of beer festivals and getting out there among our customers, so that’s always going to be a part of what we do. We also really love hosting events at our supporting venues because they can help bring a new audience to our beers. If you’re having fun while drinking a Two Birds beer, that’s a great way to build customer excitement and loyalty.
About design, what does your brand represent/reflect? (Can you tell us about the message and reflection behind the design?)
Our branding is really fun and colorful and helps tell the story of how Two Birds began. Our four first ongoing beers all work as a set, with the design of each 6-pack blending together to tell our story. They all feature flying machines too, which connect to the beer itself. For example, our first beer Golden features a rocket ship because it was the beer that launched the brewery. Our Taco beer features an airplane because we came up with the idea for the beer while on a plane to Portland!
Design: how was it designed? By who?
We work really closely with a design firm in Sydney called LCDC. They’ve been working on our designs since we started, and we really value their creative input. We’re big believers in getting the right people with the right skills working on the right things instead of trying to do it all ourselves!
What inspires you and motivates you to go to work every day?
I love being able to walk into a brewery that I’ve built up from nothing, alongside one of my best friends. But also, I really love that what we’ve built is now employing other people and motivating them too. Our team here at Two Birds is so passionate and willing to work hard to bring our wider vision to life, and there’s nothing more motivating than having 20 people depending on you to keep moving!
What is the best advice given to you?
Understand the things that you do well and then hire people or outsource to specialists, to fill in the gaps in your skill set. Also, always hire people who are better at their job, smarter than you and who aren’t afraid to disagree with you. This will always push you and your company forward.
What are your end and start routines?
I do yoga or pilates before work a couple of times a week. It helps me to have some time out from the business and then helps me to focus for the day ahead. At the end of the week, I like to redo on my “to do” list and also clean my desk. It helps to close out my week and allows me to really focus come Monday morning.
What were your biggest challenges as an entrepreneur?
My biggest challenge was moving from operational day-to-day brewery operation to having a team of brewers and being in more of a management role. Sometimes I miss the brewhouse, it’s a place where I feel very zen and calm.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a brewery?
Really think about what you want to stand for and what you want your brand to be before you start. We took a long time to choose the name Two Birds and could have gone with any number of other suggestions, but taking that time was worth it because it felt right when we found it. If you start off without being sure of yourself, it’s just going to be that much harder to keep going.
Apart from your computer and your phone, what gadget cannot you do without?
I’m not much of a gadget person, but I do like my Fitbit. I can sit at my desk for hours on end without moving, so it’s great that it reminds me to get up and go for a walk, it helps my productivity. I’m also really interested in the sleep data and the effect that sleep (or lack thereof) has on my work.
At the end of the day, what kind of beer do you drink to relax?
Something with flavor and interest, but that I don’t have to think too hard about!