I know skincare and I enjoy the process of developing skincare so creating another brand was always on the agenda. This year, we launched Alkira – a beautiful skincare line celebrating Australian botanical extracts.
IR: In what ways did you seek to learn more about the industry?
AG: I have always relied on learning about this business on the job. I maintain a close relationship with suppliers, our manufacturers, retail buyers, distributors, our customers and sales reps. Each of these relationships offer their own unique insights and skills which have been instrumental in assisting me with direction and planning.
I have never been shy about sitting in front of any of these people asking for more detail, explanations and advice on next steps. Brand building is all about collaboration, sharing ideas and innovation so establishing solid relationships is key to learning and adapting in this ever changing industry.
Having close relationships with suppliers is what led to the launch of Alkira. Just as we were leaving Sukin, we had ingredient suppliers presenting exciting developments with Australian native extracts. Aside from the obvious extracts such as Kakadu Plum, they were starting to work with ingredients that hadn’t typically been introduced in facial skincare which I found really exciting.
Native extracts such as antioxidant-rich Davidson Plum, essential fatty acid-rich Kangaroo Paw and Vitamin C-rich Finger Lime Caviar were offering natural but active and multifunctional benefits in skincare. Understanding and incorporating these ingredients into a range became my project.
IR: Did you ever suffer with self-doubt/imposter syndrome? If so, how did you deal with that?
AG: Yes and at times I still do. It’s very easy to become consumed by questions beginning with “what if”. What if I don’t break even this month? What if we can’t convince the retailer to stock my brand? What if the customers just don’t buy into the service or the product?
I have had to learn different strategies rather than simply asking myself endless questions that lead to doubt and worry.
So rather than me asking myself, ‘What if I can’t get the retailer to buy my product and stock it on their shelf?’ I choose to answer it and arm myself with solutions. What margins are attractive to them? What products do their customers ask for? How are we filling a gap in the marketplace? How will my brand achieve incremental sales in their category?
So when buyers shoot back objections or questions, I ensure I’m armed with the answers.
This is how I built my confidence and pushed self-doubt aside. Having faith in yourself, in your product or service and feeling confident in your own ideas is really important because you need to be able to bring others along – whether it be investors, customers, suppliers, etc. They need to see that you believe in your business and your ideas.
IR: Did having children impact your approach to work/life or how you view things?
AG: I’m fortunate to have children and a business that keeps me busy and fulfilled but also offers flexibility.
As a woman in business, I have always worn two hats – mum and business owner. At times this balancing act can be a challenge because there is always a task I can be doing for work but then there is always someone that’s hungry!
When I’m at work, I’m focused and super-efficient. I don’t waste time with meetings if they don’t have a clear objective and conclude with a result. I plough through my to do list and if I think my emails will serve as a distraction, I turn them off.
I put my head down and I work.
When I’m not at work, there are two non-negotiables for me:
I collect my girls from school each day and am home with them after school hours.
Each night we sit down and eat dinner as a family.
IR: What advice would you give to other working mums?
AG: My advice for anyone juggling children and work would be around time management.
Make a to-do list first thing each day and don’t stop until every item has been addressed.
Avoid meeting or moments throughout the day that will waste your time.
When you leave work, leave work behind. Don’t take it home.
IR: How did your breast cancer diagnosis change how you live and work? Did it change your perspective on things?
AG: A cancer diagnosis immediately affects your perception of time and space.
In the moment, time stood still and silent. There was no outside noise. Appointments and trivial day-to-day episodes didn’t matter; life stopped as I moved inwards and went into survival mode.
I hadn’t considered ‘the end’ before. But cancer has a way of slamming that reality at you like a freight train travelling at a million miles an hour. I spent time reflecting on the past and I cried for an uncertain future, mainly for my children.
When you’ve been tested both mentally and physically, you become so strong and so capable that eventually when life returns to normal you appreciate the time you have. I make sure I take advantage of that time every day.
IR: How has your approach/mindset to work changed since you started out in your career?
AG: I’ve always maintained a healthy attitude towards work-life balance. If anything, I lean more towards devoting more time to non-work related activities nowadays.
IR: What are the major learnings that stand out from your career?
AG: Customer engagement is the key to a brand’s success. Know your customer and talk to them often. Offer them the opportunity to help you drive direction and include them in every decision you make as a company. That connection helps build a community that not only loves your brand but they will also feel connected to the brand’s wider community, a community that has a shared value and belief system. Once you’ve achieved this, your community will be fiercely loyal.