Sarah Fisher started her natural skincare range in Melbourne over a decade ago now. She first came to see me back in 2007 when she was trying to decide what to do next with her career. It wasn’t long before we both realised that working for herself was really her ultimate goal – and something she’d be brilliant at. Not long after that first meeting, she started her beautiful natural skincare range, denu and it wasn’t long before her business began to flourish.
What neither of us knew at that time, was that meeting would be fortuitous for both of us, in many different ways. It was Sarah who introduced me to Dumbo Feather magazine and its lovely founder, Kate Bezar, and it was at an event with Kate all those years ago that I first met Martin Hughes, who is now my publisher. Without Sarah, I may never have become a published author.
Not long after we met, I invited Sarah and several other female business clients to lunch and ten years down the track, we still catch up for lunch to this day. I now consider those beautiful women some of my dearest friends.
I think you’ll love Sarah’s story – she’s kind and humble and one of those people who is always positive and fun to be around – and she’s created a business that is authentic and inspiring.
Can you tell us a little bit about your natural skincare business?
denu is a range of natural and organic body products that provide a beautiful experience. Only pure and natural essential oils are used to fragrance the range and it’s this blend of essential oils that helps uplift your spirits, helps you relax and clear your mind.
Proudly all of our products are Australian made (almost all here in Melbourne), many handmade.
For me, it is important that all products in the range are effective. Over the years I have tried so many products that were natural and or organic but I didn’t find them enjoyable to use nor effective. They either left my hair feeling streaky or the moisturiser wouldn’t absorb into my skin or they smelt horrible. My goal is for denu to be about an experience, one you love as part of your daily ritual, that makes you feel and smell amazing with smooth, soft hydrated skin and hair.
What do you love about your working for yourself?
Flexibility. I’m a morning person so I love being able to get up early and start whatever I’m working on. I love working from home for the same reason.
Being able to make decisions (quickly if necessary) for the course my business takes and what’s best for my brand is also something I value.
What does a typical day look like for you?
Twice a week I start with an early personal training session, chat with my 10-year-old daughter and 14-year-old son as they get ready for school then head out for meetings, deliveries, plan new products (one of my favourite parts), make products (including Salt Scrubs, Body Oils, Bath Salts, Gentle Exfoliator), prepare orders, address social media and of course sort paperwork.
I love finding ways to grow my natural skincare business which I spend lots of time thinking about, often while I’m out walking.
What’s one thing you would do differently if you had your time over?
Be brave enough to network more (tough as I’m a social introvert!) really put denu out there and take a few more big risks. Backing yourself in your own business is vital, even when you’re not quite sure about a decision or when loved ones suggest maybe it’s time to get a ‘real job.’
Who are your role models?
Lovely Kate James! 11 years ago I met Kate as my career coach and in our second meeting, she suggested the best idea for me was to start my own business and I said ‘oh, l can’t do that’ – once the seed was sown, it was the only option I seriously considered! In all seriousness, I admire Kate’s professionalism, her ability to connect like-minded and lovely people, her approach to running her own business (I use her advice on being trusting and open) and her pursuit of a beautiful work/life balance – not just a token one – and her ability to make her dreams come true by backing herself and working towards her own goals.
Sara Blakely – the lady who invented Spanx – I follow her on Instagram and am impressed with her continual referencing to where she started from and her mantra that ‘today is the day – go for it- take that big risk’. I admire her for continuing to push forward, following her dream to make women feel better. During their evening meal, Sara’s parents would ask her and her siblings what they had tried that day and failed at. She regards this as a gift, instilling in her the notion that trying new things, stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks is what’s important. The more you do it, the more you learn – whether you fail or succeed. I love that philosophy.
There are so many women who are my role models including many of my gorgeous girlfriends.
What’s been the best thing you’ve done to grow your natural skincare business?
Utilising my relationships, listening and learning from others, being open to new ideas and putting myself out there even when it makes me nervous.
Also knowing what denu stands for. I’ve stayed true to my values and kept focused on what I’m trying to achieve. Although it has been uncomfortable, I have said no when I haven’t thought it a good fit for my brand; whether it be for different product inclusions or various sponsorships. I know how important it is to be true to my brand.
Where do you go for inspiration?
A variety of people and places I follow on Instagram, often in totally unrelated businesses, or dreams about my next holiday and what would I like to enjoy there. Feedback from friends, customers and corporate clients is often the source of new product ideas for natural skincare.
What are you listening to at the moment?
Loving Brené Brown’s “Unlocking Us”, Margie Warrell’s “Live Brave”,
Maggie Dent’s “Parental As Anything” and I love anything to do with psychology so I often listen to “The Psychology Podcast”.
If I ever study again it will be consumer behaviour, I find that fascinating.
What are you looking forward to?
Travelling more – denu is now in all capital cities in Australia with the exception of Darwin, and I haven’t been there since my sister lived there in 1994 so it’s time to get back there and take my children too. Ultimately, I would love to take denu to Japan.
In the next 12 months, I see a fabulous denu shopfront in Melbourne filled with magic! I’d love to combine my favourite things to appeal to as many of our senses as I can; so beautiful denu products to touch and smell as well as treating our sense of sight, hearing and taste too. denu is all about proving a wonderful experience and that’s what I hope to deliver in everything we do.
I’m also looking forward to developing a relationship with a local charity in 2021 as a percentage of every denu sale is donated.
What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone wanting to go into their own startup?
You need to be brave and persistent! It is hard work, at times mundane, frustrating, lonely, upsetting, scary and with lots of knocks to your confidence. However, I would say go for it. If you have a great idea that you are passionate about – do it. I remember being daunted when discussing starting my own business with Kate yet saying to her, ‘I don’t want to get to 50 wondering if I could have done it.’
12 years on and I’m so proud of denu as a natural skincare brand and I have some exciting plans for the future.
What’s your purpose – in your business and/or in life?
To help people feel good!
What is the change you’d like to make or see in the world?
That we seek and support local Australian businesses in all industries, for example, primary producers who working tirelessly to give us the fresh and fabulous produce in our stores and in any area where we have a choice of local or foreign.
Not so much a change l guess but more a wish – I’d love for us all to practice more gratitude. We are so incredibly lucky to live in Australia with all that it offers. As members of a society who support and really appreciate each other, we can share and create so much more for ourselves and the world.