Woman of Style and Substance Q & A: Alison Dean
Welcome to our new weekly spot, where we talk to successful women who we feel are Women of Style and Substance.
A woman of substance is a woman of power, a woman of positive influence and a woman of meaning. To be branded a woman of substance is one of the greatest compliments one can give a woman that wants to be an “influential” female. What makes a woman stylish is what she has to say and how she chooses to live her life.
Today we talk to Alison Dean, Alison is a successful entrepeneaur and the brains behind The High Tea Party. The High Tea Party is a unique event concept and a modern take on the traditional high tea offering a decadent all-day experience in five-star luxury. After complimentary bubbles on arrival, guests have the opportunity to indulge in pamper stations, fantastic shopping and entertainment, all before a grand high tea setting which includes delectable chocolates, cakes, scones and more.
Support from a selection of Australia’s best-loved brands ensures guests are spoilt from start to finish, as well as a gift bag full of goodies to take home. With so much to celebrate, it’s no surprise that the event welcomes over 25,000 women to tea nationally.
The next The High Tea Party kicks off in Adelaide on the 30th – 31st May, Hilton Adelaide. Keep an eye out as we will be giving away tickets to The High Tea Party in each state. For further information head to The High Tea Party website.
Alison, How did The High Tea Party get started?
The event was largely inspired by my past experience working at marketing agencies. I worked with clients such as Procter and Gamble who were always looking for ways to communicate and interact directly with their consumers, but it was really difficult for brands to find appropriate channels to do so – ones that attracted good numbers of the correct demographic and real opportunities for brand awareness. I realized there was a gap in the market for an event that not only attracted the women that these brands wanted to speak to, but allowed them to be the focus of the event.
In the first few years, what were your biggest hurdles to running a business? What did you struggle with?
One of the biggest hurdles definitely happened fairly early on. In 2011, I found myself in the position of taking over the business from my business partner when she decided she wanted out. Back then, the company wasn’t doing too well financially, and to add to my stress, I had a 12-week old baby on my hands!
We were struggling to refine the concept, working out how to sell tickets and get to the right guests with the right price. Especially since marketing budgets were decreasing and a lot of our revenue in the early days came from sponsorships, I needed a way to sell more tickets at a good price.
Managing to not only move beyond that, but to evolve the events to the national – and now international – series it is today, now with three children in tow, is definitely something I still struggle to believe some days!
How do you juggle three children, a successful business, a home and life? Do you think you have a work/life balance?
I think I do – and it all comes down to good time management. That said, there are some days when it all just falls apart and you have to just roll with it – I think that’s true for everyone. When you’ve got so many different things happening at once, you learn how to use your time well so everything gets done on time – each moment becomes valuable!
What advice would you give a woman wanting to start her own business?
Know your strengths – both personal and business related – and stick to it. Figure out how you can work with these uniquely in the marketplace and keep on developing that concept. Just as important is self-belief – talk yourself into doing what you want, not out of it.
What do you most enjoy about The High Tea Party events?
I absolutely love seeing all the ladies that attend the events in every city each year – it’s so rewarding to see people so excited about enjoying a special day out with their friends.
Who do you admire or find inspirational? I admire many women! From the female staff, I employ who are so productive with their work whilst look after their young children to someone like Naomi Simson, Red Balloon, who took a complete chance on an idea!
What is the best piece of advice you were ever given?
“I can do it!”, which my grandmother has been telling me since I was a little girl!
What is your favourite ”girly” thing to do?
This has changed over the years, especially since my group of girlfriends and I have all become mums! I love catching up over morning tea at a nice café with our kids nearby or sharing some laughs over a glass of wine!
What would you say your personal style is?
These days I find that my style is a mix of fashion and practicality. I’ve always favoured classic pieces that stand the test of time, and as a mum of three I don’t get as much time to shop as I would like, so often my outfits are updated with statement jewellery. And I am totally happy to admit that on days I don’t see clients or I work from home, my personal style is definitely one of comfort and may involve pyjamas for a longer period than some would deem acceptable!
Being a Woman of Style and Substance yourself, what do you think are the most important attributes a woman can have?
I think self-confidence and self-belief without arrogance is very important, but as a woman I think the ability to ask for help and accept it when you need it is an important attribute too. I think as women we often feel like we should be able to do it all, without any kind of apprehension, and without any assistance – and realistically that’s just not possible. I have learned to let go, to let people help, and it’s probably the best thing I could have ever done for not only my business but for my personal life and happiness too.