Spending time with Julia Barnes, Founder of Honubelle, a Canadian swimwear line dedicated to women who live to play, in our store for her Summer 2017 collection launch last month had a lasting effect. Not only is she an inspiring Canadian entrepreneur she’s developing a swimwear brand that makes every woman feel good no matter what shape they are. She’s pays attention to cuts and shapes that flatter, make you feel comfortable while bearing a little skin, and stay in place during activities. She’s a mother of 2, a business owner and makes sure she gets her family outside playing daily. Get a glimpse into her life in our interview with Julia below.
How did you start Honubelle and what were some game changing moments that got it to where it is today?
I started Honubelle in 2009 as a surf-style brand designing and hand making hoodies, tank tops and dresses. I had a desire to create and make fashion since I was young. Naturally, I wanted to make fashion for the lifestyle of a windsurfer/surfer as that’s what I live and breathe. As for game changing moments, I think there are two that really stand out to me. The first one was when Studio Revolution Fitness in Calgary started selling my swimwear and the second was when I showcased the Spring/Summer 2016 collection at PARKSHOW, one of the biggest fashion shows in Calgary.
What influences Honubelle's culture? Who or where do you derive inspiration from?
Wanting to live an extraordinary life chasing the wind and the waves, carefree feelings, breathing in the moment, and connection to the ocean is what influences Honubelle’s culture. My inspiration comes from a lot of different places, mostly from the ocean and the wind culture. I like to integrate Canada with the tropical feels of Maui, most of the styles are named after lakes or beaches in Canada, mostly from Alberta and BC. The newest print ‘Prairie Wind’ is grass from our very own Fish Creek Park here in Calgary, so you can feel extra proud wearing it.
"Get rid of Plan B."
What’s the best business advice you ever received?
Get rid of plan B. If you want your business to be successful you have to be all in and not have an alternate escape route. This advice came from my business coach Stan Peake.
Were there moments in your start up journey when you felt closer to giving up? If so, when and what pulled you through and allowed you to hustle on?
Yes, I definitely had many moments when I felt closer to giving up. What I always have to remember is why I started on this journey and to remind myself that every setback or failure creates space for learning and opportunity. I also look up at my values board daily and read ‘confidence’ and ‘courage’ out loud.
Entrepreneurship means you wear many hats, how do you structure your day so you’re as efficient as possible?
I always have a list of things I need to get done written down in front of me. As I work through them, I scratch them off, so that I can keep my mind clear. This exercise feels really good, and I can see a record of my daily accomplishments. I usually prioritize my daily to-do list in the evening, that way I can get right into it as soon as I wake up. My kids are preschool and kindergarten ages, so I still get to spend most hours of the day with them, which I absolutely love. Consequently, my working hours fall into early mornings, when they’re at school and late nights.
What would you do if you weren’t working on Honubelle?
This is a tough question. I keep coming back to not having a plan B while I charge forward with Honubelle. That being said, if I didn’t start Honubelle, I would mostly likely be working in the finance department, ideally in the garment or surf sports industry.
Tell us about your fitness routine.
I actually teach a Surfset fitness class twice a week at Studio Revolution Fitness, it’s a great way to keep my upper body and core strong and have a surf board to practice duck dives and pop ups on. I do like to go for a run at least once a week. During the week, I take my kids on a daily bike rides, swimming or we play tennis before or after school. The weekends are for family time; we play on the water, go kiteboarding and windsurfing, or head to the mountains to go hiking and skiing.
Wearing booty baring bikini bottoms is a bit scary for some of us. You must have heard that before, what's your response to this worry?
I tell women about my experience of when I first started wearing cheeky bikini bottoms. I used to think that only Reef calendar girls could wear such sexy bikinis and that I needed to be a certain shape and size. When I first wore a booty bearing bikini to the beach I felt liberated and empowered to love my body the way it is, imperfections and all. That’s what I want women to feel when they wear Honubelle swimsuits.
Favourite healthy meal?
I would have to say fish. I love making trout with cracked sea salt and pepper, drizzled with a little bit of avocado oil and paired with a quinoa tabbouleh salad.
Favourite way to relax?
My favourite way to relax is to be outside in the sunshine. I find that I’m closest to tranquility when I’m active in the sun, when I’m outdoors, and when I’m present in the moment.
What piece(s) are you currently coveting from HEMM?
I am actually obsessed with Spiritual Gangster pieces that HEMM carries. I want all of them! They’re so soft and compliment my leisure style perfectly.
What’s on the horizon for Honubelle?
I’ll be showing Honubelle SS18 collection at the Vancouver Fashion Week in September, which I am so excited about. It’s a great honour to be a part of a Canadian fashion show of that caliber. In addition we’re looking at the possibility of organizing kiteboarding and windsurfing camps for women whether it be an ‘intro camp’ or ‘meet the pros camp’ or ‘share the stoke camp’ here in Alberta to promote these sports to women and encourage them along via the Honubelle lifestyle; to embrace the elements. We’re also collaborating with SRF Vacations (http://srfvacations.com) to have Honubelle swimwear as part of their retreats! Oh, and I also want to do an Honubelle mini line for girls one day and perhaps dabble into the men’s swimwear line.
Shop Honubelle’s Summer collection here.
Follow Honubelle’s adventures on Instagram.