Behind The Scenes: 7 Questions with Honeybell Waterwear Creator
Posted on 23 October 2016
Your most popular questions answered by Annaliese Allen, creator of Honeybell Waterwear.
1. What inspired you to create Honeybell Waterwear?
I have the type of skin that burns, so I was always pretty good at practicing the Cancer Council’s the Slip! Slop! Slap! message. A key component of this message is “slip on clothing”, and I thought that wearing any clothing that covered your skin was enough. 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 a ‘rashie’ for myself.
But finding a rashie that fitted me properly was not as easy as I thought – they were unflattering and unfashionable. The experience got me thinking; if wearing a rashie is making me feel body and fashion conscious, then other women are probably feeling that way too.
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 – doing everything I could during the kid’s naptimes and after bedtime.
2. How did you come up with the company name?
I was looking to incorporate a name that evoked the feeling of summer (Honeybell) and also included a descriptive word (Waterwear).
Honeybell, which is a type of Tangelo just felt like the perfect summery name. To me, a Honeybell sounds feminine and curvy (it even physically has a nipple!) and I loved that it was a hybrid citrus, like my wear in-and-out of the water hybrid designs. And the icing on the cake was the fact that my son loves to eat them!
I included Waterwear in the business name because for brands starting out it is strategically important to include a descriptive word because your brand name will not be recognisable when you launch. It just helps your customers know what you’re all about. Having a descriptive word also helps for SEO (search engine optimization) too!
3. What was it like designing the collection? Where did you draw inspiration and ideas from?
At the start of the design process, I found my ideal customers and asked them a lot of questions – would you wear this, what colour, what length, which body parts are you self-conscious about, why don’t you currently wear rashies, what would convince you to wear a rashie, etc?
Once I was thoroughly overwhelmed I took the sentiment and themes from the feedback, but ultimately chose cuts, colours and patterns that I would personally wear.
Because I don’t have any formal fashion design training, I hired a fashion designer to refine the cuts and turn my ideas into reality. She has a Dutch and Australian heritage with German, Canadian and Italian education, including a design degree from Polimoda in Florence. Whilst it’s hard to pick her accent, it is not hard to pick her contemporary European design flare mixed with Australian practicality.
4. How do you want women to feel when they wear Honeybell Waterwear?
I believe that looking good and feeling beautiful are just as important as being protected from the sun - I want women to feel confident, beautiful and protected.
5. Why do you think women have steered clear of the standard "rashie" in the past?
Traditional rash vests are unflattering and not fashionable – so this message has not been resonating with women who are body or fashion conscious. If we want women to wear sun protective clothing we need to offer women fashionable options, where aesthetic design is given the same level of importance as functional design. It is no longer one or the other.
6. Why is it so important to you to create sun protective clothing for women?
The statistics are scary: Two in three Australians will be diagnosed with skin cancer by the time they are 70. It is the most common type of cancer in Australia, and 90%-99% of skin cancer is related to sun exposure.
And just in case skin cancer wasn’t enough of a deterrent, up to 90% of the visible signs of ageing, including wrinkles, are caused by sun damage too.
So, be it for health or vanity reasons, having the best possible skin comes down to reducing sun damage.
7. What can we expect to see next for Honeybell Waterwear?
I’ll be expanding the range of colours, cuts, and styles. Nothing too dramatic as it is important that my designs can take women from one summer season to the next - so the range will forever be based on classic cuts and colours to compliment any swimsuit, patterned or plain.
And surprisingly, I’ve received a number of requests to design something for men! Yup, there is usually nothing worse than seeing a middle aged man in Lycra, but I’ve been summoned to take on the MAMIL challenge! We’ll just have to see about this one though!