I moved from Melbourne to Cairns.
Why the move?
Like many of us, I felt incredibly stifled during the Melbourne lockdowns and was fortunate enough to have the opportunity to relocate to Cairns with my partner, who grew up there. I was grateful for the warmth and freedom every second of every day!
What do I love about it?
Being able to walk to dinner along the seafront in a t-shirt in the middle of winter. A sense of community and support for small businesses, particularly after COVID severely affected tourism and hospitality. My breath-taking view from our apartment over the coral sea and the calm and tranquillity.
But what did this mean for my business in Melbourne?
I was extremely anxious about leaving my team and business after being so hands-on for many years. Although I was still working remotely every day, there was no longer a physical presence. I intended to fly back to Melbourne every few weeks during 2021 but this proved incredibly difficult due to the border closures.
The entire team stepped up and despite the odds, Synergie Skin thrived. I feel like Synergie Skin was my child who was ready to show me that she had grown up and could survive without me holding her hand anymore. She did! It was a very humbling experience.
“This experience and COVID taught me three lessons.”
Just as we all discovered, when you think you have plans, be prepared, and expect them to change! COVID-19 was the biggest curveball I have ever experienced in my business career. ‘Pivot’ became a real buzzword, yet I felt we needed to go beyond agility: we needed to be pre-emptive and predictive. Every day, my team and I would be strategically thinking ahead for new ways to stay one step ahead of supply chain issues, team safety, and our capacity to serve customers as well as the wider community. We created shifts in our lab and production facility to maintain distance, we created virtual education hubs for our stockists, and like most other businesses, we adapted to remote working.
The most significant impact Synergie Skin had on Australia was our ability to manufacture hand sanitiser when international supply was limited. I was already creating WHO-grade sanitiser for my Hong Kong customers as the pandemic hit this region first. I had the formula created so I only needed to upscale it to supply my Australian market. I remember spending an entire weekend sourcing 1000 litres of medical-grade ethanol and spray bottles when supply was at a premium cost. Tenacity paid off, and I secured my massive order from NSW for delivery the following week.
We were feverishly manufacturing and delivering to aged care homes, and medical practices, and even giving free sanitiser to our customers who were doing it tough in lockdown. Our entire Synergie family all felt we were playing our part in serving our community during those uncertain times.
I was also so proud that every team member had job security during COVID, as we were seen as an essential Australian manufacturer.
“The second lesson I learned was to be relentless in all pursuits that matter to you.”
There will be roadblocks, but problems are simply solutions yet to be discovered. I have never given up when I believe there is a solution. Yes, COVID was a huge roadblock, but sometimes the necessary detours revealed the best outcomes. We had been planning our new training programs before COVID, but that need was accelerated when we no longer had the luxury of face-to-face contact. Our Synergie stockists still comment on how invaluable our virtual training was to them over lockdown, and they emerged with a greater knowledge of how to treat their clients’’ skin concerns.
“Appreciate the simple pleasures in life”
Working remotely really tested my ability to delegate. You must learn to let go to really grow. I have spent the last 20 years of my life as a formulator with a total boot-on-the-ground approach to business. As Synergie Skin matured – and I realised that my team had so many skills that far surpassed mine – I knew it was time to step back and focus on what I love. I still formulate every product, but there are many other aspects of my business that I have let go of.
Ultimately, this was a truly liberating decision, and I am now free to spend more time on simple but meaningful experiences such as cooking clean and healthy meals, taking long walks with the person I love, embarking on a 6-day road trip across Australia, spending quality time with my kids and saying ‘I love you at the end of every call with them.
Surprise, I wrote a book!
During the pre-COVID days when the world was a vastly different place, I would sit at the window seat of my favourite Melbourne café and do one of my favourite things: people watch! As I watched all those wonderful humans walk by, I knew that each one of them had their own story to tell. There is a book in all of us, and some of us have the privilege and time to put our thoughts on paper in the hope of touching others positively.
Skinformation had been parked in my head for years and I just knew that someday I needed to create a go-to resource for people to cut through all the hype and achieve their best skin possible! I call it my third child (it took 9 months to write), so I’d like to introduce you to my ‘book baby’… Skinformation: A Clean Science Guide to Beautiful Skin.
Being a former senior science teacher, I feel that I understand how we learn, and it was important to explain concepts in a digestible manner with simple visual references and LOADS of analogies. My book is straightforward, quirky, and packed with plenty of fun facts and images to help you break down the science behind your skin.
Skinformation is a deep dive into topics across all age groups and skin concerns; from teen acne to ageing, pregnancy, and stretch marks. Skinformation educates on the skin biology behind each stage of life while revealing which skincare products will really work and why. My daughter has likened reading my book to having a one-on-one chat with your favourite science teacher or skin guru! There is truly something for everyone in this book, from adolescence to menopausal skin concerns.
There is so much more to Skinformation than just learning how to understand your skin and how to break down ingredient lists. The confidence that comes from within when you feel great about yourself is palpable, and I believe it’s my calling to help people realise that. If I can positively touch one life with Skinformation, then the entire journey has been worth it.