From family life to running her own swimwear business, Ashya McDonald – founder of Full Bums Swimwear – has it covered. Literally. We sat down with the Gold Coast mum-of-two to talk all things business, balance and… well, bums!
What was your inspiration to start your own business?
We moved to the Gold Coast in 2018 and I noticed that a lot of the swimwear was a cheeky or g-string coverage. It started as a little bit of a joke… “One day I’m going to start a swimwear brand and call it Full Bums.” Then, as time progressed, I noticed that it was really hard to find swimwear in the shops with a full coverage. It was either the smallest collection, non-existent or in Kmart or Target. I must have mentioned it a few too many times because I had a few friends say, “You really should start this business.” So, at the end of 2020, I decided to give it a go. Full Bums launched in September 2021.
When did you know the timing was ‘right’?
I don’t think you ever know if the timing is right. I knew I was ready for a challenge. I’d sat on the idea for so long and played it out in my head. Did I want to dedicate more of my time to another business? My husband and I were already running two. What would it mean to my family? But as I started putting it out there, the response was so amazing that I just knew I was onto something special. So, I don’t think you can ever pick the timing. My personality is to jump in and sort out the details later. Once I had decided to do it, that’s exactly what I did. I made the timing work for me.
How did you make your big break?
I don’t think I’ve had my big break yet, but that’s also relative. I’ve definitely seen some amazing things happen within the business. Connecting with influencers and brand ambassadors has really helped the brand. I also think building a community and chatting to them regularly has helped grow the brand and get the name out there.
What was your training prior to starting your own business?
Life experience was my training! I had been in a leadership role for most of my life, working in not-for-profits. Eight years ago my husband and I decided to go into business. I taught myself everything as I went, from bookkeeping to marketing to Meta ads. When you start a business you wear all the hats. Google, Youtube and other business owners are a great source of ‘schooling’. We always say to our kids that education shouldn’t just be the 12-13 years of primary and high school. You should be learning all the time, whether that’s by podcasts, business groups, uni or networking. We can always be growing and upskilling.
What are the biggest challenges of being a parent and a business owner?
I’m fortunate to have older kids now (19 and 13) and only one at home so my challenges are different to parents with younger kids. My biggest challenge is that I can be extremely task focused; when I’m working on something everything around me disappears. I have to be so conscious of having a life outside of the business. My new mantra is ‘do more of the things you love’ and everyday I’m reminding myself of this. Even if it’s just a walk along the beach or lunch with a girlfriend or a concert with my teenage daughter. I don’t want life to pass me by, or look back one day and see that all I’ve done is grow a successful business. I want a life that I’ve loved as well.
What is your top tip for maintaining a work/life balance?
I try to be super organised and plan/schedule the balance. I look at my diary a month ahead and plan out work days, rest days, adventure days, etc. It doesn’t always go to plan! I’m always looking at our busy family periods and making sure we schedule ‘nothing’ time. I don’t think my balance is always great but it’s something I’m working on. It’s become slightly easier because I’ve employed a team to take over some of my tasks. Just when you think you have the balance right, something disrupts it so you have to be flexible and understand there are seasons for everything. Just because it’s busy this month and life looks chaotic doesn’t mean you need to continue that for next month. Plan some strategy to get your balance back on track.
What is your biggest learning since starting your own business? Is there anything you’d do differently?
I really love what I get to do and I’m learning so much along the way. Would I change anything? Not yet. My major learnings have been more about myself. I’m realising I am more than capable, that I do have the skills and sometimes that a gut feeling is the right feeling!
What do you do in your spare time to keep yourself sane?
Lay by the pool and read. We also regularly entertain, and my husband loves cooking, so having people in our home and eating, drinking and laughing is what keeps me 100 percent sane.
What’s one thing other people should do who are looking to start their own business?
Build a great team around them – accountant, solicitor, supportive friends and other business people to network with, connect with and glean from. Also, don’t compare your business to another on social media. It’s all a highlight reel!
Finish this sentence: I can’t get through a workday without… A Coke No Sugar! It’s a problem, I know, but it also brings me great joy!!