Celebrating International Women's Day with the founders behind your favourite brands

As the beauty industry continues to grow faster than ever before, there’s never been a better time to be a beauty entrepreneur.

The Australian beauty and personal care products market was valued at USD$3.73 billion in 2020, and it is projected to register a CAGR of 3.87% during the forecast period (2021-2026).

So, in honour of International Women’s Day on March 8, 2022, we’re shining a spotlight on the women behind your favourite beauty brands.

From what IWD means to them, their inspirations, the best business advice they've ever been given and what they would say to fellow female entrepreneurs, BD spoke with over 20 incredible women to share their stories.

Janet Hayward - Ipsum founder

What does IWD mean to you? Recognition and celebration of all women all over the world who are achieving goals for a positive future for women and the community.

What inspires you to do what you do? Ingredients and people! I am continually learning about our amazing land and our unique native ingredients that historically provide food, medicine and decoration in First Nations cultures. We can learn so much to benefit our wellbeing from these living cultures and at the same time, help preserve important cultural traditions and support communities. We only use ethically-sourced, certified organic ingredients in our complex formulations and we support Bush Heritage – an organisation that works in partnership with First Nations communities to conserve our land and our incredible native species.   

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? Be prepared to work really hard and be patient – there is no quick, easy way to achieve your goals. Stick to your true beliefs and ethics because authenticity is the only way to build trust, reputation and loyalty.

Pippa Hallas – Ella Baché CEO

What does IWD mean to you? Embracing a world today where all genders and diversity is celebrated and equitable. Where all girls and woman have an equal voice and no bias or discrimination exists, in the boardroom, parliaments, sporting arenas, science or creative fields to name a few. This will create a better future for the world. I will always stand up for this and against discrimination.

What's the best business advice you've ever been given? The future is uncertain, and there are no manuals to help guide us through challenging times, instead, we must be courageous, stand by our principles, follow our intuition and creativity and back our decisions – even if we are the only ones in the room.  

Natalie McGrath – GLOWSO founder

What inspires you to do what you do? I’ve been a naturopath specialising in women’s health for nearly 20 years. When I can support a women to have more energy and vitality, this has a ripple effect to everyone around her. When she feels amazing this impacts her relationships and how she feels about her self. She has more energy for her kids and for her work. I’m incredibly grateful that I can help women to priorities their health and wellness.

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? Talk to as many supportive and constructive people as possible. When I first started thinking of developing GLOWSO I talked to more than a dozen different TGA consultants about formulating supplements. Each discussion I had a leant more each time. I talked to many other founders in different industries and listened to their stories. I listened to podcasts that interviewed founders. I engaged with different programs that supported start-ups. There is so much support out there when you look for it.

Venessa Nappa – Oz Hair salons owner & pioneer and mother to Oz Hair & Beauty founders, Anthony & Guy

What inspires you to do what you do? One word and that’s PASSION! I have loved hairdressing since the age of three and feel so thankful that I trusted my gut and followed my dreams. The passion I have for my work has ultimately led me to working closely with my family, in a place I love with the goal of making each and every one of my clients walk out the door feeling good about themselves. The people I've met and the relationships I’ve made through our business are invaluable – there is honestly no better feeling than when a client becomes like family.

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? Follow your dreams and stay resilient. It can be hard as a female to balance family life and business, but I wouldn’t change my journey for the world! My sons have been my inspiration and I'm sure, vice versa as they grew up watching my work ethic, which I now see in them as they run Oz Hair & Beauty. Sometimes people ask me when am I going to retire, but when you love what you do, that thought just doesn’t even cross your mind!

Alex Fevola – Runway Room founder

What's the best business advice you've ever been given? To back yourself, trust your gut and don’t always assume others know more than you!

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? I believe the recipe to success is authenticity. If you genuinely believe in and are passionate about your business, then you’re half way there. Be prepared to work hard and surround yourself with people who inspire you. Staying motivated and passionate is key to longevity. And most of all, believe in your vision and trust your instincts.

Samantha Brett – Naked Sundays founder

What does IWD mean to you? I love that there is a day to celebrate women and all their achievements. I love that as a collective, we can all get together and pause to have a magical day where we can learn about the struggles women have faced in the past, take a moment to reflect how far we’ve come, and look at how far we still have to go. 

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given? 'The time is now' – so many people say they have great ideas but just procrastinate and never get anything done. If you think to yourself that the time is now, it will make sense to you as to why you need to follow through immediately and not wait until someone else does.

Rachael Tyers – tbh Skincare founder

What does IWD mean to you? International Women's Day is an amazing opportunity to recognise the achievements of the women around us. It is a really great reminder for both men and women to support the women around us. In a business world where there are more high power positions secured for men then there are for women, it can be very easy to see your fellow female colleagues as competition. What we need to remember is that we all need to band together to challenge the status quo. Instead of aiming to defeat the other women contending, we need to be trying to change the system altogether. Days like International Women's Day are a really important reminder of this.

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? I think the advice I would give, and it is something I have to tell myself almost every week, is that every challenge that comes your way is an opportunity for you to learn and also an opportunity for you to practice resilience. The start-up experience is not an easy one, so go in eyes wide open, and be willing to stick it out during the tough times. As long as you love and believe in what you do, you can overcome the hurdles that come your way (most of the time anyway…). Nothing is a failure if you take away something from it. I call them school fees – you might cost yourself time, or money, making mistakes, but if you learn something from it, those costs are simply school fees! 

Charlotte Knight – Ciaté London and Skin Proud CEO and founder

What inspires you to do what you do? I am in love with the beauty industry and everything about it. I love seeing new innovations coming to market and people fall in love with them and make a positive impact in their lives. Beauty and cosmetics are skin deep, it’s all about how it makes you feel on the inside, so seeing our products make that difference in people’s lives is really rewarding.

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? You need to be able to take a step back and get the bigger picture and the best place to start is listen to those around you and on your team but also at the wider industry. Also, listen to what your customer wants – they are the ones that are leading the charge and changing the game, make sure you are listening to them and keeping up!

Lisa Raciti – KIND-LY founder

What inspires you to do what you do? I’m inspired to build KIND-LY into the most successful Australian natural deodorant and skincare brand that I can, simply for the ability to make a difference in elevating someones everyday routine by creating amazing natural products that work. The opportunity and inspiration I can also provide to other women in business and other small businesses that we work with also keeps me going on my path. 

What’s the best business advice you’ve ever been given? To just to start and keep moving, no matter how small the progress may seem. It can be easy to get caught up in wanting everything to be perfect before launching that product or business idea, but at a certain point you just have to jump in and give it a go or otherwise you risk never getting to market.  You can always refine your idea or product as you progress, but what’s important is that you actually have that product or service available in the marketplace in the first place.

Georgia Geminder – GEM Oral Care founder

What inspires you to do what you do? People! Everyone brushes their teeth, every day (hopefully twice!), and every category has had a make-over, except oral care! I noticed a big shift in beauty towards natural products, that I didn’t see happening in the oral care space. The category is still dominated by big, clinical, outdated brands: Gem stands as a challenger to this, and provides a solution to a consumer looking for natural, but also effective oral care.

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? Be kind to yourself. It’s hard not to feel swept up in social media and feel as though you should be doing or achieving more. Just remember you are good enough! Also, everybody goes through a transitionary stage – I literally had no idea what I wanted to do for a good 5 years! – you’ll work it out eventually.

Priscilla Hajiantoni – Bangn Body founder

What does IWD mean to you? International Women's Day is a symbol of strength, resilience and empowerment for women everywhere. Each woman is recognised, each woman is heard and each woman is seen. It is a day that we show support, encouragement and appreciation for our female peers. It's a day to remember we are one, and we are fierce. 

What's the best business advice you've been given? Find your 'WHY' and NEVER waver from it! 

Ere Perez – Ere Perez founder

What's the best business advice you've ever been given? To focus on creating a business not a product – this means that the people around you are part of the journey. Your team is integral to your brand, they are your treasure and they must be treated with love and integrity.

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? To be patient, you don’t need a plan to start – what you need is the will. That every day you can take a step forward, even if it is just one per cent towards the 100 per cent. We are all such multi-taskers these days, but you can’t run yourself into the ground – we need good food, proper sleep, and water. We must take care of ourselves to have longevity in pursuing our dreams in the industry.

Shannon Lacey – Rawkanvas co-founder

What does IWD mean to you? It's a nod to how far we've come as women. This is a time where we can essentially do anything we want, and we owe it not just to ourselves, but to the women who helped pave the way for us, to take the time to genuinely celebrate all of the opportunity we have at our fingertips now and celebrate everything else that's yet to come for us.

What's the best business advice you've been given? Work will always be there waiting. This one statement alone allowed me to totally grasp and run with the concept of self-sustainability and balance. Because at the end of the day there will always be work to do – whether you worked yourself into a spin or not, it's going to be there. So, finish each day knowing you did what you needed, you can always tackle the rest later. I think as women this is incredibly relevant as we try to wear so many hats – from raising children, running a household (if that's your home setup), working full time – you name it. We can become too guilty of multi-tasking so it's a great reality check to bring yourself back to balance.

Tarj Mavi – LAMAV founder

What inspires you to do what you do? As a creative, I must admit that I find inspiration almost everywhere – but nature has always been my greatest inspiration and I am constantly drawn to the land in terms of uncovering new ingredients and bio-actives to include in our formulas. I’m incredibly passionate about our ingredients and discovering new bio-actives is one of the most rewarding parts of my job and this is truly what continues to inspire me today!

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? While everyone’s journey is different, no matter what idea you have for your business, it’s essential to be patient, be resilient and believe in yourself. Launching a brand, product, service, or business can be all-consuming so it’s important to be driven, but to also practice patience with yourself and not to worry too much if you fail at the first hurdle. Ultimately, if you believe in yourself and your idea, you will find success.

Kirsten Carriol – Lanolips founder

What does IWD mean to you? It's important to acknowledge and celebrate women, in all aspects of our lives. International Women's Day gives a voice to all of those stories, on a local level I hope they are celebrated more frequently than once a year. 

What's the best business advice you've ever been given? To trust my instincts. Take on board all the advice you can, and then forge your own way. Don't rely on others to make your decisions. 

Joanne Zhong – ACEOLOGY founder

What inspires you to do what you do? I am continuously inspired by all the incredible women I am surrounded by. The reason I do what I do is because I believe it is so important for all women to practice self-care and to make time for themselves, to recharge and rejuvenate, and to allow them to be the best they can be in all areas of their life. I am proud that Aceology fosters a sense of community that celebrates women, individuality and self-care.

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? I would say that it is incredibly important to surround yourself with like-minded people who have your best interest in mind, people who will always push and encourage you to be the greatest version of yourself that you can be.

Emma Spiliopoulos, Jess Arthur and Lauren Rugolo – Lash Therapy Australia co-founders

What does IWD mean to you? International Women’s Day to us means empowering women, strengthening their confidence, making all women feel heard and to embrace their natural beauty.

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? We would say to not give up on what you want, to keep going even when you feel like you’re not getting anywhere. Persistence is key. Think outside of the box, do your research and make sure with whatever you want to pursue it is something you are truly passionate and inspired by. It then creates a working environment that you are in love with every day.

Catie O'Neill and Olivia Burrows – My Glow 2 co-founders

What does IWD mean to you? We believe it is a day where we should reflect on, appreciate and celebrate the success of all women, both past and present, from across the globe. These twenty-four hours serve as a reminder to continuously support and encourage one another and use our voices to inspire change and empower others. 

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? Find a way to monetise your passion and just go for it! Block out the noise and external criticism, and stay focused on your goal. Share your journey with like-minded women and don't worry if others are unable to see your vision. 

Jessica Bragdon – Koala Eco founder

What's the best business advice you've ever been given? It wasn’t given to me personally, but passed down. It was from Eleanor Roosevelt, who said a great many wise things, including this one: 'do one thing every day that scares you.' I have tried to use this wisdom throughout my life to try my best to face my fears, and force myself to do things outside of my comfort zone. Following this advice has been incredibly useful in my career and life. 

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? There comes a point where you just have to back yourself, take a deep breath and jump in. Resilience and self-belief are so important. You have to have confidence in yourself and in your idea. Having confidence in yourself is one of the hardest things, but it strengthens when you plunge in and get on with it. Be able to ask for and accept help. 

Chloe Machin – I Am Beauty founder

What's the best business advice you've been given? Processes and systems are everything! It is imperative to any successful business and one that can really trip you up and delay success, growth and expansion if they are not in place from the beginning. 

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? You have to back your offering 100 per cent and you must have a deep desire to learn, adapt and show up every day.

Hannah Drury – Burchgrove Home, Peppermint Grove & Moss St. Fragrances founder

What does IWD mean to you? A celebration of women coming together to honour our successes and progress. It’s a day to call for further change, while acknowledging the women in history who paved the way so women like myself can achieve their dreams.

What's the best business advice you've ever been given? Don’t be afraid to ask for help! If you aren’t sure of something, reach out and ask for advice or get a second opinion. Don’t forget to engage directly with your consumers and further understand your channel.

Jennifer Mekhaeil – Go Bare founder

What inspires you to do what you do? I find so much joy in helping others. Aristotle wrote that finding happiness and fulfillment is achieved 'by loving rather than in being loved.' I live by this notion every single day through my work, relationships and daily encounters. Helping others gives me a sense of empowerment and keeps me motivated to achieve bigger goals both personally and professionally.  

What would you say to fellow female entrepreneurs wanting to pave their own path in the industry? Don’t feel like you need to prove anything to anyone. As a woman in business, it can be hard to find your voice and not be taken seriously. Always stay true to yourself, even in a competitive market where you have to constantly innovate and adapt to stay competitive. Don’t lose sight of your brand and core values as a business owner. Come as you are and don’t try to fit a mold.