There's no stopping Alison Goodger, original co-founder of renowned skincare brand, Sukin. Her latest venture with brother, Simon - Alkira Skincare - takes her passion for botanical extracts one notch further, with new ingredients like Kangaroo Paw and Finger Lime Caviar featuring in her all-star line-up of Australian native compounds.
Sambag caught up with Alison to discuss her career journey and why she takes advantage of everyday...
Describe yourself in 5 words:
Appreciative, kind, energetic, loyal and a survivor
You and your brother Simon were the dynamic duo behind natural skincare company, Sukin. How did you get started?
Sukin was launched in 2007. At the time, the health and wellness movement was still in its infancy however gaining momentum. People were looking for ways to clean up their diet, lifestyle and were starting to take a more active role in eliminating known toxins from products they used both in skincare and household products. In Australian retail, we found that there were very few products at the time that offered an affordable natural alternative to skin care products even though there were customers ready to convert. It was this obvious gap in the market that saw us launching Sukin and creating what became the brand that paved the way for Australia’s natural skin care category.
What are the pros and cons of working so closely alongside a sibling?
Understanding and respecting each other’s contribution to the business has been the key to the success of our 14 years of working together. Our professional strengths vary which is key. Not to say that we don’t have heated discussions. We do! It’s just that we can agree to disagree and move on quickly.
Our business mantra is to stay within your own lane – this works for us.
The one con I can think of is when we see each other at family gatherings. It’s a bit like “oh it’s you again”! We spend a lot of time together!
You’ve battled and beaten breast cancer, do you have a message for anyone dealing with cancer themselves, or through a loved one?
Everyone’s journey with cancer is different so it’s important to take a deep breath, understand your disease and the treatments available and just know that your future isn’t defined by someone else’s experience.
As hard as it was, I tried to stay positive about a long-term future, in part because between cancer appointments I was cradling a newborn baby.
Interestingly, I had to learn to stop blaming myself. I dissected every part of my life to try and find the ‘why’. The narrative in the media seems to be that there is always a clear cut cause for every illness. This leads us to believe that if someone has an illness then it could have been avoided and that somehow the patient must be to blame for their bad lifestyle choices. This is not always the case. Sometimes it’s just down to bad luck. Once I stopped blaming myself, I felt I could move forward and pack cancer anyway into the archives of my life where I intend to keep it!!
How has cancer changed your perceptions?
The diagnosis of cancer 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 matters 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, so capable and eventually when life returns to normal you appreciate the time you have and I make sure I take advantage of that time every day.
What are your secrets to juggling work and motherhood?
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 and each night we sit down and eat dinner as a family.
You’ve recently sold Sukin and have now developed your second skincare brand, Alkira. What is the concept behind Alkira, and what lessons have you applied from your time at Sukin?
A couple of years ago, ingredient suppliers started to present to me some really exciting developments with Australian native botanical 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 skin care. I found this 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 phyto-active compounds delivering active and multifunctional benefits in skin care.
Understanding and incorporating these ingredients into a range became my focus.
At Sukin we were excellent at customer engagement. This is the key to a brand’s success so we will continue to keep this top of mind when implementing strategies for Alkira.
What are you most passionate about?
Adventures. Whether it’s travel, a new business, a new home, new tastes, new sounds, new experiences. Life offers up extraordinary opportunities and adventures and I’ll try anything twice so I’m all in.
Where do you find inspiration?
I spend a lot of time reading industry specific magazines, I listen to podcasts, visit stores, I talk to people in the industry and I try and keep my eyes open to the ever evolving skin care category.
Who do you look up to?
My favourite entrepreneur is Sara Blakley – inventor of Spanx. She has created an extraordinary business that is still privately owned whilst juggling four children. I love hearing about her journey and the grass root sales and marketing strategies she implemented in the early days. She was always visiting stores and taking it upon herself to redesign their merchandising so that Spanx was front and centre. It’s simple strategies like this at the start that help build awareness. You just have to be prepared to pound the pavement to make it work.
And our signature question: if you were a shoe, what style would you be?
I would be a hybrid between a sneaker and a stiletto as I love beautiful structured, classic shoes but I’m always on the run! Oh and it would definitely be in animal print...
ALISON WEARS THE APTLY NAMED ALISON LOAFER IN BLACK CROC