Sarah Fisher 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 skin care 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 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 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 that makes you feel and smell amazing with smooth, soft hydrated skin and hair. I would love to think denu helps you shine.
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 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 l start with an early personal training session, get my 8 year old daughter and 12 year old son ready for school then head out for meetings, 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 paperwork. I love finding fun ways to grow my business and dream about who I’d like to work with next, e.g. Elk. They have been a brand I’ve supported and admired for years and I’m trying my hardest to work with them!
What’s one thing you would do differently if you had your time over?
Be brave enough to network more, really put denu out there and take a few more big risks. I think backing yourself in your own business is key, even 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 sewn, 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.
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 business?
Utilising my relationships, 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 plus feedback from my customers and my corporate clients who I’ve worked with for the past 10 years.
What are you listening to at the moment?
I’m loving ‘Chat 10 Looks 3’ with Annabel Crabb and Leigh Sales, they amuse me no end and provide great recommendations for reading, Netflix or movie viewing. Clearly, these ladies are very close – I love their ability to make each other laugh hysterically.
What are you looking forward to?
Travelling more – denu is now in capital cities in Australia with the exception of Hobart, Adelaide and Darwin so they’re on top of my list and ultimately, I would love to take denu to Japan.
In the coming years, I see a fabulous denu shop front with some magic – perhaps combining several of my favourite things to appeal to more of our senses. I remember about 15 years ago an NZ paint company called Aalto opened a store that was set up as a classy café, taking the paint selection process to the next level. Instead of being the usual dirty, dusty paint store, they made it a really enjoyable experience. denu is also about a wonderful experience and that’s what I’d like to deliver in everything we do.
What’s one piece of advice you’d offer to someone wanting to go into their own startup?
If you have dreams of being the next Kim Kardashian then starting your own business may not be for you! You need to be brave and persistent in chasing your dreams and it is hard work, no doubt about it, at times mundane, frustrating, 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 ‘l don’t want to get to 50 wondering if l could have done it.’
What’s your purpose – in your business and/or in life?
To help people feel good!