This year, to celebrate International Women's Day we interviewed 3 inspiring women from the Sodashi Community. Megan Larsen, Tania Taylor and Chrissy Dress are three successful female leaders who have made an impact in the natural skincare and luxury spa space.
We are beyond excited to share these inspiring stories with you and we hope these interviews empower women and girls around the world to follow their passion and dreams. Discover their unique journeys, the challenges they faced, women they admire and of course, their favourite Sodashi Products.
First up is our wonderful founder Megan Larsen.
Can you please tell us a little bit about your journey to building Sodashi Skin Care?
This year we are celebrating the 23rd birthday Sodashi officially launched.
It started on my kitchen bench in 1995, and at the time I owned and operated The Health Cottage, a small business in Perth where I was focused on the health and wellbeing of my clients.
With an education in aromatherapy and a passion for essential oils I travelled to Provence in the South of France, (where Aromatherapy was founded in 1935), and it was during this trip I asked our lecturers if “anyone was doing anything with essential oils and pure, natural skincare”.
Fuelled by a passion to create my own skincare I returned to Australia excited. The first step was to learn as much as I could about formulating and producing natural skincare, and since my knowledge to date was a combination of aromatherapy and my first post-school job working in a compounding pharmacy, I had a lot to learn. But I was fortunate, and I found some great teachers, mentors, and biochemists who helped me.
Sourcing ingredients brought challenges (since this pre-dated Google), but the upside was I spoke to ethical and sustainable growers, producers, and suppliers directly. Many of these Sodashi is still working with today.
What I couldn’t predict, is there was a gap in the market, and by late 1996 I had people driving over 50 kms (quite a distance in Perth), to procure the first product I formulated, Rejuvenating Face & Neck Moisturiser, because it had gained a reputation “the best food for the skin”. This was amazing feedback, and at the same time, I was besieged with requests for more products, which was the encouragement I needed.
Sodashi now has over 100 products – all meticulously formulated and created with love, care, and the highest quality natural ingredients to ensure to ensure every active ingredient get to exactly where it needs to be in skin’s layers.
In 1999 I sold my health business and by 2000 we had established ourselves as a Company and had our first employees.
It was exciting when the international Spa industry expressed such interest in Sodashi back in 2001, and we’ve since expanded into over 30 countries globally. One of my early motivations for creating Sodashi was to give
Therapists the opportunity to work with pure and natural skincare and support their health and wellbeing.
Our first launch was into Thailand and our first experience with international product registrations. It was a lengthy process but made much easier since our ingredients were clean and natural.
Sodashi’s core values are wholeness, purity, and radiance (which is also the meaning of Sodashi), and continues to be the guiding principles of Sodashi, as a company, a product, a workplace and in all our business dealings and relationships.
I believe in the importance of investing in the health and wellbeing of the team and so far we’ve supported over 70 members of our staff to learn transcendental meditation*
*an evidence-based, effortless technique for relieving stress inner peace and wellness.
I believe our ingredient supply is just as significant now as it was at the beginning, particularly the transparency and quality, because this underpins the quality and efficacy of each and every Sodashi product.
Life is full of ups and downs, especially when building a business. Are there any challenges that you’ve had to overcome whilst building Sodashi?
As a pioneer, there are advantages and disadvantages. In my case, when I was creating Sodashi I had a clean slate. There weren’t other brands to influence the Sodashi brand or the creations, which had its ups and downs, but I was committed to my mission and vision.
My mission was to create skincare products to transform the skin, naturally, authentically and with no false promises.
My vision was to make change in the skincare industry. At the time of starting Sodashi we were still heavily influenced by traditional, heavily chemical laden brands, I wanted natural skincare to be considering mainstream.
To achieve this, we needed to educate therapists and clients in the benefits of natural skincare. However, what was on our side, both our Sodashi therapists and our clients were seeing results and the immediate benefits for the skin
You’ve had so many inspirational milestones throughout your career. What has been your proudest moment?
Getting an email, or phone call, from a customer or spa who wants to tell us how Sodashi has positively impacted their skin (and sometimes their life), or their Spa, is always one of the proudest moments for me.
Recently I discovered someone who began using Sodashi at the very beginning, is still purchasing and using it 23 years later. And last year I read Michelle Pfeiffer told ‘Oprah Daily’ she’s been using Sodashi skincare for a very long time (over 10 years), because she has reactive skin, and it doesn’t make her breakout.
When growing up what did you dream of becoming?
I certainly wasn’t dreaming of becoming the Founder of a skincare company, but I did dream of owning my own business. Growing up in the 60’s and 70’s in a small town in NZ and being raised by an entrepreneurial single Mum who always told me “I could do anything I put my mind and attention to” gave me the belief anything was possible. Strength, kindness, passion, and independence were important to me.
However, I didn’t find my first real passion until 1990 when I discovered natural health, wellbeing, and aromatherapy.
Which influential woman/women do you admire the most?
I admire every woman who has the courage to speak out and use their influence to positively make change.
Greta Thunberg for challenging world leaders to take action around climate change.
Brene Brown for teaching me about vulnerability and having the courage to show up even when I can’t control the outcome.
Grace Forrest for her work and dedication to ending modern slavery.
Ruth Bader Ginsberg and all the women, before and after her, who have used their voices for gender equality.
How do you like to support other women?
I’m often approached by women in start-ups or business who have questions or are looking for support, and I consider it such a gift to be able to share my knowledge, especially if my past mistakes or successes can help other women avoid similar mistakes, or even better, provide them with a great idea.
I’m a fan of transcending generations, I have dear friends and other likeminded women in business who are way younger than me, and some who are older, but remembering we are stronger when we unite and share experiences and learn from each other which can bring a lot of perspective and inspiration.
And while I have some favourite female founder brands, I love discovering a new product, brand or service that’s been created by women, particularly those who are sustainable and ethical. Social media is a great way for to give my genuine support.
Do you have any advice for women would are looking to follow their passion?
Create a plan and work out how you can use your passion to gain the exposure you’ll need.
It can be so daunting when you’re starting out and you’re likely to have lots of questions and lots to learn. Create a valuable network of support, these can be mentors, professionals, and other likeminded women, but choose those who will lift you up, support you and be honest with you.
Remember not many of us would be where we are today without the support of those who believed in us and have helped us.
What is your favourite Sodashi product at the moment? Why?
Currently, I have two favourites:
Sodashi Cell Renewal drops. I call these miracle drops; you add them to water and compress your face and neck. They are such a skin gamechanger, within just a few days you can see the difference in the texture and appearance of your skin – and I love how they shrink my pores. As well the essential oils work to uplift and relax and mood and emotions – so they’re a perfect start and/or end to the day.
Plant Essence Replenish Face Mask. I really don’t know what I’d do without this face mask. I try to use it at least twice a week, and every time I do I am rewarded with skin that is glowing, dewy, plump and fresh.
(Psst.. purchase either our Sodashi Cell Renewal drops or Plant Essence Replenish Face Mask today and you'll receive a complimentary Brightening Marine Mineral Mask Deluxe Mini. Automatically added to your order in our warehouse. Ends Midnight AWST 8 March 2022).