As the co-founder of Modus Operandi Brewing — an award-winning brewery based in both Sydney’s Northern Beaches and Newcastle — Jaz Wearin came up against the, “Can I speak with your husband?” line in the early days of the business.
“Brewing is traditionally a male-dominated industry,” explains Jaz, who launched Modus with her husband in 2012 and, more recently, founded the non-alcoholic beer brand, NORT.
“It took me a solid year or two to really build my confidence and fill my toolkit,” reflects Jaz. “I have learnt a lot in my 7 years of running a business. So, while it isn’t common today, if I do come against some pre-formed judgement, it doesn’t take me long to disarm.”
If anything, Jaz is grateful for the lessons she’s learned along the way – even the hard ones. Being a woman in the brewing industry has spurred her on to thrive; failure was simply not an option. Indeed, with over a third of her team being women (and growing), Jaz knows that what matters is a diversity of opinions, creativity, and dynamics in the workforce – not gender.
“I want to demonstrate to other women that this is a welcoming industry,” she says. “In fact, this year, in celebration of International Women’s Day, all of the ladies in the business have gathered to create a brew just for the occasion; to celebrate the contribution we have made.”
And as this is the first International Women’s Day for Jaz since launching NORT last September, it will be a particularly special one.
“My initial idea for this business actually came about while pregnant,” she says, laughing. “I was craving beer but not a single non-alcoholic beer on the market scratched my itch.”
Fast-forward three years later, and now with a little person in tow, Jaz has her product.
“We have been so overwhelmed with the feedback we have received,” she enthuses. “As a beer lover myself, it was extremely important to provide all the flavour of a real beer without the alcohol - for men and women alike to enjoy!”
And when Jaz and her husband were invited by Amazon Launchpad to sell on Amazon.com.au last year, the small-business owners jumped at the chance.
“Working with Amazon Australia has been a positive experience,” says Jaz. “It was a great opportunity to launch NORT to expand our immediate reach and put our products in front of Amazon’s customer base.”
“We’re so strapped for time when it comes to responding to the manufacturing, wholesale and hospitality needs of the businesses, so by tapping into Amazon Australia’s logistics expertise, through Fulfillment by Amazon, we can get our beer in the hands of customers fast and reliably — especially to regional and remote areas of Australia.
“They have been very supportive of highlighting female leadership in both Modus and NORT through their marketing channels, given us a beneficial exposure boost. As a small business owner — who just happens to also be a woman – I am greatly appreciative of this.”
For other business-inclined women thinking of investing in the passion project and building upon an idea like Jaz, she has some advice:
“Find a mentor, hire people who have different skill sets to you, and remember: it’s ok to not know something. You can learn. Knowledge is power.”
To shop from women-led small businesses, head to www.amazon.com.au/internationalwomensday