beauty

"I've had a baptism of fire": Zoë Foster Blake on what you don't see behind her success.

My absolute favourite interview of all time? Gah - do I have to answer that? Nah, not Oprah or Beyonce. Ha ha ha, but seriously. Interviewing your friends is HARD, you guys. 

If I had to pick, I'd say Zoë Foster Blake

The successful beauty mogul and founder of Go-To Skincare popped up on my screen last week - shrouded in a peachy background, a fancy shirt and a sense of humour and wit that simply can't be taught.

From beauty editor in glossies such as Cosmopolitan and Harper's Bazaar, to founder of one of Australia's biggest skincare brands, Zoë Foster Blake has become a household name.

Everyone knows her. Loves her. Reckons they'd actually be really great mates with her.

And the same goes for her products.

Watch: How Zoë Foster-Blake's makeup routine has changed since becoming a mum. Post continues below.


Video via Mamamia.

Over the past seven years, Go-To Skincare has earned itself a massive cult following. Like, huge. People froth over the stuff. And for good reason. The signature peach-coloured bottles have set a new standard for simple, effective, no BS skincare.

And as I teed up a chat with Zoë, it just so happened to be the same week she sold half of Go-To to beauty giant BWX. For a lazy $89 million.

So, yeah, I had a coupla questions. (See: how to get rich).

Here, Zoë chats about the shift in beauty, owning a $177 million skincare brand and of course - the newest member of the Go-To fam. 

Zoe Foster Blake on how beauty has shifted.

With decades of experience in beauty - from mags to blogs to books - Zoë is a girl that knows her stuff inside out. Including just how much the industry has changed.

"Going back to when I launched Go-To, coming out of beauty magazines and even online with blogging, I could see a shift, but it wasn't like, enormous. It was still being magazine-led, and it was still legacy brands, super micro brands, spa brands - there was that clear distinction."

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"Now, of course, with social media there's no barrier to entry - which is wonderful because anyone can have a brand or start a business in their bedroom. But it does, however, create a lot of noise."

Meaning? Beauty has become confusing. And complicated.

"That's why Go-To existed back then, eight years ago when I invented it. It was to be the one that you would reach to when everything was overwhelming and confusing. We just aim to be really simple and uncomplicated."

"On the plus side though, is the democratisation of beauty and the transparency and the accountability for both the brand side and the customer side. There's a dialogue - it's not just a brand with the product saying 'buy it', it's now very much a two-way street."

"I love that the consumer knows what they want and what they expect from the brands they choose to give their money to. I think that's wonderful."

Zoe Foster Blake on selling Go-To Skincare.

In case you're skimming and totally missed it the first time (um, rude!), Zoë recently sold half of Go-To Skincare.

Beauty and wellness group BWX (the company who own brands including Sukin and Andalou Naturals) purchased a 50.1 per cent share of Go-To, which includes the brand's original peachy-coloured line, as well as men's brand ‘Bro-To’ and children’s product range ‘Gro-To’. 

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According to Zoë, looking for a like-minded partner who really ‘got’ her brands was a massive process - and something which she said provided a huge learning curve.

"We set out in publicly in about March, looking for a partner to work [with], because our board and our shareholder structure was very start-up and worked really well for a number of years. 

"We weren't in a position where we needed an investment or anything like that - I just wanted a partner. I just wanted some good heads around the table. And I particularly wanted someone who could help us grow overseas, because the world is littered with brands that tried and failed. And it's a really expensive, hardcore exercise to get into an international market."

Did you... did you catch that? An ✨ international ✨ market. 

Meaning? You can finally stop shipping products to your cousin overseas. How good!

"We're already trying in the States and that's big and hard and COVID obviously messed with that. But what we wanted was someone who has proven inroads, global infrastructure, boots on the ground, all the things that mean that we can keep doing what we do best here and can start to do that Go-To magic globally."

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"They're really nice guys and they get it - they live and breathe skincare. There were a few bidders obviously in the process and these guys stood out as just being really culturally aligned with our stance on sustainability and inclusivity, how we run our business and how we look after our team. My people and my products are everything - our customers, our staff, our product is the whole reason we exist, so I was exceptionally protective of that."

"I feel very confident that we're going to be good partners and good buddies. The thing I love, is the idea of Aussie skincare companies coming together to sort of go global and say, "Hey, Australia is actually really good at this."

*Wipes away tears*.

"I have felt I've had a baptism of fire these past eight months, because I've just been thrown in the super deep end of business. But I'm really proud of myself in that moment. Because it's really not natural to me. I'm classically a creative and a writer and a visionary of the brand. But I've had to really grow up. And that's probably what I'm most proud of."

Zoe Foster Blake on being on the Young Rich List.

NBD.

"Unfortunately, there are numbers put next to your name, and it's very awkward. The thing that is the driver for me is that it means we get to put more into the brand and we get to do more stuff, because we have people who love to use it and enjoy the product."

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"To be able to make more products for more people is the key to get more people using skincare and looking after themselves. And that's always been the driver for me. I had no idea, I had no business plan, and I didn't know what I was doing. I just wanted to make a thing that would be simple."

Zoe Foster Blake on Go-To's new Much Brighter Skin.

The new product! Yes. In some tremendously exciting news, Go-To Skincare has dropped its first serum. 

It’s called Much Brighter Skin, and it’s a daily serum that’s loaded with 10 per cent vitamin C (sodium ascorbyl phosphate - which is really gentle), niacinamide, Kakadu plum and hyaluronic acid. It’s a true multitasker.

"This is what happens when you have a narcissistic founder creating the NPD (the new product development), because I feel like I've been using vitamin C for so long," said Zoë. 

"And particularly when I had my kids, I had bad hyperpigmentation, which is very common. I've been out of the sun for a very long time, but it can also be thermal and it can be caused by laser treatments - whatever it might be."

"So. It was there, and I've been using pigment inhibitors and brightening serums for the longest time, not just vitamin C's. So to go to market with just a pure vitamin C didn't quite make sense. I wanted to have additional support products in there for brightening. But that said, it also had to be really hydrating and calming."

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It’s a beautiful creamy formula, doesn’t have a weird smell (y'know that hotdog water kinda smell?), doesn’t sting and sinks in super fast. As a lass with sensitive skin - I give it a thumbs up. No irritation, sting or unpleasant-ness. 

"I find it really confusing when vitamin C's have AHA's and BHA's - like, I find it baffling. And so often when I do a video on application video, I'd use a vitamin C and people would ask what I'm using. I found it really hard to endorse one because they just weren't hitting exactly the right spot," said Zoë. 

"So that's why we do what we do. We don't reinvent the wheel, we just go, what would the Go-To version be? It had to have really stable and gentle vitamin C because we have a lot of customers who have skin that's easily pissed off."

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"I've been using [it] obviously for a very long time and I don't wear foundation anymore. I feel bright enough and glowing enough that I just do that and then SPF and then concealer - to me that's a big difference."

When it comes to the best way to use Go-To's new serum, Zoe said to apply it to damp skin after cleansing.

"I mist my face, apply it and let it sit for 60 seconds. I use that time to put my lash serum on and do my brows. Then I come in with Face Hero and I press it in instead of rubbing (because that's going to disrupt the vitamin C), and then I go straight to SPF." 

"It's a super simple morning routine. I don't have time to f**k around. I've got five minutes to get ready. The kids are screaming downstairs, they want their porridge - year round, all year round..."

Are you going to try Go-To's new serum? What's your thoughts. Share with us in the comment section below.

Feature image: @zotheysay/Mamamia

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