Flex your muscles! You need to find your weaknesses so you can strengthen those areas. Listening to rap music helps too!
Take a good look at your ‘Facebook’ friends. Ask yourself, “did this person check on me when I needed them?” If they haven’t been there for you, cut them out of your life. Resilient people don’t bother investing their time in people who don’t give the same care in return.
Write lists and reflect often. Acknowledge the bad, get rid of it and move on. Channel the good and choose to focus on the positives that are in front of you.
Speak your mind! You are bound to get some haters along the way but it’s great training for when you are successful.
Talk to strangers. Learn to listen, know who you are talking to and see how they can help make you stronger.
In this interview series, we are exploring the subject of resilience among successful business leaders. Resilience is one characteristic that many successful leaders share in common, and in many cases it is the most important trait necessary to survive and thrive in today’s complex market.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Lisa Jolly. Hailing from Wanganui, New Zealand, Lisa has been a serial entrepreneur for over 20+ years, launching her most recent international company Honeybunch Pure Naturals in 2014. Her stroke of creative genius came right from her kitchen, when she decided to submit her handmade soap and scented bath products to Shopify’s Build a Business competition. Her high energy, hard work, and persistence caught the attention of many in the industry, accelerating Honeybunch’s jump into the world of e-commerce.
The natural product line, infused with New Zealand Manuka honey, was created because of Lisa’s desire for safe products that her whole family could use and enjoy. All Honeybunch products are created in an eco-certified facility and carefully handcrafted in New Zealand. Manuka honey lovers can immerse themselves in a variety of bath and body products including flavourful lip balms, soaps, lotions, and more.
Lisa is passionate about the natural wellbeing of humans and wildlife, she is continuously finding ways to contribute her products and her voice to causes that are dear to her heart. Lisa is excited about Honeybunch’s launch into the U.S market and is focused on sharing both her brand and her entrepreneurial story with thousands of others.
Thank you so much for joining us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” a bit better. Can you tell us a bit about your ‘backstory’?
I never would have dreamed that I would become a serial entrepreneur, however here I am…straight from the college of hard knocks.
As an only child, I swore I would never have children, and then found myself as a young mother at the tender age of 24 with three children under the age of three all while managing my first business (a flower shop that flourished into a massive floral distribution chain). I vividly remember pushing my baby in a supermarket trolly while I was surrounded by the flowers I was selling at the store, one kid on my back and one sitting in the cart! I did that same run 7 days a week for about 5 years just to make ends meet. The training allowed me to better handle challenges that were thrown at me and taught me how to multitask. It was truly the start of my resilience training!
In some respect, it’s almost like I jumped on a bullet train with no ability to jump off. My children became my fuel for work, providing for them with things like private education and arming them with the tools for success was very important to me as I wasn’t as fortunate to have all those things as a child. I was thrilled when a chance encounter happened one day and someone walked into my blooming business (ironically named Blizzblooms) and made an offer to buy the business. I jumped at the opportunity, planning to be a full time mother and have some time off. But next thing I knew, I was opening a cafe (which then sold), followed by a restaurant (which also sold), another flower shop (which also sold), a manufacturing business … you get the idea. Now, years later I find myself with my lovely Honeybunch brand, which is perfect timing as my kids are now young adults and have left the nest. With all these years under my belt, I’m more determined than ever to make this brand international.
Reading back on this it all looks so easy, but the tears between the lines and dots were what I would only describe as a wooden roller coaster that didn’t go around corners well, and took ages to get to the top of each high point, only to come crashing down many times!
Can you share with us the most interesting story from your career? Can you tell us what lessons or ‘take aways’ you learned from that?
Well, that’s such a loaded question for me as there’s so many to choose from. I had a chat with a guy who passed by my store each day walking to work in central Hong Kong and saw me self decorate as I lacked the funds. Little did I know that he was one of the richest men in China who thought I was an artist so ended up investing in me. I also managed to get my Honeybunch products into the amazing ABC stores in Hawaii by handing a product to a store manager while stuck in a store as a street parade went past trapping a ton of us inside. I also connected with my now USA distributor Thomas (a stranger at the time) by asking him a question in a store in Hawaii because I noticed him loading some retail shelves.
I would say that from my many experiences throughout my career, that have led to wildly unfathomable opportunities I have learned to talk to people! All of these encounters I think of happened because I took the time to not just talk, but to listen to new people I met along my journey. I enjoy listening to other people’s experiences, doing that can change your own life for the better. Always be kind and remember that resilience comes from listening to everything and everyone you can and learning from other’s experiences by taking the good and using it to help you grow.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
Honeybunch was actually formed because of my ambition to win a competition held by Shopify. At the time, I was a little bored with the day to day of my manufacturing business and was looking for a new challenge (I also really wanted to go to Necker Island and hang out with Richard Branson!). I saw the business competition as a great opportunity to train myself on how to build a website, grow a social media presence, and focus on things related to digital marketing — all things that were way out of my usual skillset. It was quite hard for me to wrap my head around at first, since I wasn’t raised with technology! But I am very determined and knew if I took on the challenge, I would learn along the way.
I knew I had to bring something special and different to the table. For starters, I was living in New Zealand at the time and wanted to bring in a product unique to my country, and Manuka honey was just that. I had beautiful liquid gold right in my backyard that could be shared with others! I had also witnessed the demand for Manuka honey while visiting Asia working on business for my other manufacturing company, so I knew that this was a space that had opportunity. Because my personality is very fun and energetic, I wanted to infuse that into the brand to make it stand out. I thought developing products that creatively showcased the beauty of honey and flowers, would make for the perfect combination of a quirky vibe matched with amazing natural properties and benefits. Although I didn’t win Shopify’s competition, they did feature me in an article, which focused on the fact that my brand was top on their radar because it was so hard to ignore me! I take that as a win, the uplifting spirit of my brand, our ‘bee’liefs and values, caught their attention which was a clear sign that I was onto something special.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful to who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Absolutely, I agree. I have quite literally been a one woman brand for the majority of my business life. However, during Shopify’s business competition, I stumbled upon a group of really awesome guys that were doing great things in the entrepreneurial space. I used the learnings from my past experiences and kept reaching out to them on social media. Sure enough they would tweet support for me every now and then, giving me this sense of motivation and encouragement! Eventually, I mustered up the courage to message them and to my absolute delight, they invited me to a life changing lunch where we bonded over entrepreneurship and made plans to meet again. I had it set in my mind that I would do business with them one day. Ironically this happened on the same day that I ended up at Snoop Dogg’s house (clearly something was in the air!), so it truly was a pivotal day in my life.
One of the guys I met was Sam Rusani, I have him saved in my phone as “Sam business tall guru guy”, he has become a great friend and mentor to me. He has been an investor, a mentor, a genuine friend to me and my distant tall rock. We share a love of entrepreneurship, music, wildlife, and taking risks however his perhaps are more calculated than mine so he is able to quietly teach me strategy. He tells me I have the ‘just do it’ quality and that strategy can be learned along the way, whereas some people strategize for years and never actually do it. I am so grateful to have Sam in my life.
Now let’s shift to the main focus of this interview. We would like to explore and flesh out the trait of resilience. How would you define resilience?
Resilience to me is unrolling from a fetal position because you have lost everything, and learning to crawl, walk and stand again. Resilience is being able to tell your story proudly, while owning your shit (learned that from gangster rappers). Resilience is not only about accepting your failures, but proudly sharing them so you can possibly stop some future heartache for others who may be in a difficult situation. Resilience is not allowing others to influence your dreams. Resilience is taking the worst situation and making an effort to see the light. Resilience is the ability to speak your mind and beliefs without worrying what people will think of you.
What do you believe are the characteristics or traits of resilient people?
Self belief is probably the biggest trait, perhaps a bit of directness without feeling the need to filter yourself and your thoughts. I would definitely say adaptability, and high energy, along with the ability to make quick firm decisions.
When you think of resilience, which person comes to mind? Can you explain why you chose that person?
Martha Stewart, I mean, what an amazing resilient woman! She makes her fortune doing everyday things and sharing them with the world, she even went to jail and came out better than ever. If you can come back after being at the top of your game and deal with what she has survived publicly then she deserves a badge of resilience. I’m privately hoping she reads this so she can whip me up a Honeybunch Manuka honey recipe book. How about we call it “the resilient bunch recipes — Honeybunch recipes to boost immunity and resilience.”
Has there ever been a time that someone told you something was impossible, but you did it anyway? Can you share the story with us?
Yes. Multiple times! I guess being told by the New Zealand Trade and Enterprise (NZTE) that I was not a suitable candidate for grants and financial support to open a shop in Hong Kong was initially a hard hit. Sure enough those same folks showed up to my Hong Kong shop grand opening (uninvited, I might add) and were wishing me congratulations, even asking how I pulled it off! My answer? “Well you didn’t support me so I jumped on a plane, signed a shop lease in Hong Kong and here we are. Another glass of champagne?”
Did you have a time in your life where you had one of your greatest setbacks, but you bounced back from it stronger than ever? Can you share that story with us?
China 2015. A few months before I was to open our Hong Kong store. Long story short, I woke up at 1:00am in my hotel room to discover my eye was nearly popping out of my head! The whole night is still a blur, but I ended up in a Shanghai hospital for weeks, and after 4 operations I lost my eye sight in my left eye and a big part of my filter. It was such a life altering experience, so I took to writing and started a book called “Shangeye view”. I embraced the recovery time and used it as a window to reflect on my life. I came to the reasoning that for years, travelling was my way to see everything amazing this world has to offer and yet somehow my life had become a travelling whirlwind. I wasn’t truly taking the time to really stop and look at all the beautiful things around me. I made a vow to myself from that point on to really see everything around me and ironically I now see more with one eye than I do two! The best part of that setback was recognizing how lucky I actually was and knowing that I already had such a great life. It was what was needed to make me stronger, more grateful, and resilient.
Resilience is like a muscle that can be strengthened. In your opinion, what are 5 steps that someone can take to become more resilient? Please share a story or an example for each.
My top 5 steps for being more resilient are:
- Flex your muscles! You need to find your weaknesses so you can strengthen those areas. Listening to rap music helps too!
- Take a good look at your ‘Facebook’ friends. Ask yourself, “did this person check on me when I needed them?” If they haven’t been there for you, cut them out of your life. Resilient people don’t bother investing their time in people who don’t give the same care in return.
- Write lists and reflect often. Acknowledge the bad, get rid of it and move on. Channel the good and choose to focus on the positives that are in front of you.
- Speak your mind! You are bound to get some haters along the way but it’s great training for when you are successful.
- Talk to strangers. Learn to listen, know who you are talking to and see how they can help make you stronger.
You are a person of great influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
I try to give back wherever I can to charities I am passionate about. When money has been tight, my support has been vocal and physical, I’ve found opportunities to give back to animals who are suffering. My love for animals inspired me to create a Honeybunch gift box that has the saying “the Bees knees and koalas in trees” on the packaging. For every order, we donate $1 to help rebuild and support Australian wildlife, which is needed now due to the devastation from the terrible bush fires.
I will always care about supporting wildlife and environment related causes, but with the recent COVID-19 pandemic I recently decided we should channel our efforts into helping front line workers at hospitals. So we are sending our Manuka honey balms as a donation, and I’m proud to say that we have currently sent over 1000 lip balms directly to nurses and doctors, who can also distribute them amongst their teams. If you want to truly understand the word resilience, I would suggest interviewing one of these amazing frontline hospital workers, they are awe inspiring. Donating lip balms to protect their smiles is only a small thing but it’s something we could do directly and right away.
We are blessed that some very prominent leaders read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US with whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them :-)
Hey …. Richard Branson! I tried to go to Necker Island but didn’t make it … yet! I want to check out the wildlife with a cocktail in my hand, while feeding little animals, while pitching for an investment in Honeybunch. If Gary Vee wants to come, that would definitely work too!
How can our readers follow you on social media?
Honeybunch_Naturals on Instagram
Honeybunch Naturals on Facebook
Lisa Jolly — personal blog Facebook
This was very inspiring. Thank you so much for joining us!