This week’s Ambassador Feature is with Jeannette Lees, Rosy Lees Design
2017 Bronze winner of AusMumpreneur Network Excellence category
Tell us about yourself and your business?
Creativity and colour run through every essence of my being. I adore working with my hands and losing myself in designing and creating.
Rosy Lees Designs specializes in bright and colourful work, from company branding and packaging design to illustrations for children’s books, fabrics, wallpapers and home wares.
What was your inspiration for your business?
Drawing and design are my passions! While I have run businesses with large teams before, my current work is immensely rewarding and empowering because I can be part of my family and do what I love at the same time.
We mothers need to learn to value ourselves and our contribution to society. When you learn to balance family and work you can inspire other people and your children to follow their dreams.
Did you have any experience in running a business or in this industry before?
My first business was a large barbershop in London in the UK. I was trained in classical men’s barbering straight after school, before going to work as an art director for Toni and Guy. I realized that men were not really getting the choice and good quality service that was being offered to women and my husband and I teamed up to start a salon. I was lucky to have great success in business at a young age.
Our thriving business was based on a friendly and approachable service that was consistent in its quality. We were really innovative at that time with hot towel shaves, massage and beer, which was an approach not being done anywhere in the UK at that time. We shook up the barbering industry with our unique approach and the way we trained and mentored the people who worked for us.
We sold the business to our employees when we emigrated to Australia and I am proud to have built something that continues to grow to this day with the new management team continuing my philosophy.
We moved to Sydney Australia 5 years ago and that is when I went on a mission to reinvent myself and start a new business that I could work around my young family. I have always been skilled in drawing and I worked hard to build my graphic design experience, particularly with digital design.
That led me into starting up Rosy Lees design. It has turned into a very successful business and I have some wonderful clients who bring lots of joy, opportunity and happy dancing into my life on a daily basis.
What’s your point of difference that makes your business special or unique?
My artwork style is unique, happy and very colourful, unlike the average graphic design firm.
My previous business has taught me how to communicate effectively with clients around sensitive visual matters! I value a relationship with my client so we are communicating well, working together as a team and poised to make the most of all opportunities that come along.
What have you learnt about yourself since becoming an entrepreneur?
I am a leader; this is one of my biggest lessons. It makes me laugh because when I opened the door on my first business I was so shy that the thought of having to speak up in front of a group, even to say my name and something about me, used to make me feel dizzy and sick.
I came to realize that I am passionate person who believes in working hard and creating a lovely environment so that everyone around me has a chance to thrive. I light up when I am passionate about something, which seems to draw people towards me. It is an amazing feeling to inspire people to learn more, to change old habits and to take calculated risks for personal growth.
It makes me feel alive to be adding something valuable to someone else’s life.
What are some of the challenges you’ve faced and how have you overcome them?
I learned that when you run a successful business and have a young family you have to set boundaries, take timeout for yourself and have a set of non-negotiables.
I have worked myself into the ground several times whilst trying to be all things to all people. It is all too easy to give too much of yourself to others and to face burn out. You get to the point where you are no good to anyone because all you want is to hide away from the world.
One of my non-negotiables is my two girls. They come first at the moment because things will change all too soon and I want to savor every moment with them while they still want and need my attention. If they need me then I will be there and my husband or I pick up my two girls from school every day.
What lessons have your business taught you about life?
Networking is vital as you gain lots of like-minded friends, opportunities and support. Joining Ausmum has been a huge game changer for me in this respect I have gained in confidence, friends and many wonderful and unexpected collaborative projects have come my way which have extended and challenged me and my business to no end.
This lesson is now a common theme in my life. The school-gate mums are absolutely flabbergasted that I am friends with so many different personalities and that I am always taking on new and unusual projects and opportunities.
If you could go back to when you were starting your business and give your younger self some advice, what would you tell her?
You are much stronger than you understand or allow yourself to be. Never undersell yourself and your abilities.
Take time out when you need it. Please don’t keep pushing on regardless to how you feel. If things are not working, then you need to remember: “Fail fast, learn the lessons, and move on”.
Every person and challenge that comes into your life does so in order to teach you something.
So long as you maintain high standards in your business, all competition is a positive thing as it will either highlight the special value in the what you have, or show you the way forward.
What’s next for your business?
I have so many wonderful collaborations going on at the moment (and some of them are top secret) but I can tell you that most of my new Rosy Lees Design colabs are with yummy Ausmummy’s.
I am also opening my first Australian barbershop in central Sydney. I think that my two girls (age eight and ten) are old enough now for me to devote the necessary time to a barbering business. I am really looking forward to running a team of devoted barbers in a unique, all-Australian haven. I am developing 100% Australian hair care products and inviting small Australian businesses to have a little room in the shop to give them much needed exposure. My Aussie barbershop will be a softer, more friendly approach then the current crowd and I hope it will encourage more women back into this wonderful profession.
If you could change the world, and money was no object, what would you do?
As Morgan Freeman said in the film Bruce Almighty:
“How do we change the world? With one single act of random kindness at a time.”
To learn more about Jeanette and Rosy Lees Design, please visit