In our special Mother's Day feature we talk to five women who combine motherhood with running a successful business. This week it's Dr Irene Prantalos, skincare expert and founder of Salubre.
What was the inspiration behind the launch of your business and when was it launched?
My childhood was met with many challenges that centred around my health. It felt as if I was not really present and a little lost as my mum and I went from doctor to doctor trying to find a way to help with my psoriasis. Eventually my experience with Chinese medicine proved to be wonderful as my skin seemed to heal within two months.
Now it wasn't a cure but there was a lot of promise that came with this as up until then there seemed to be nothing that could ease the pain of this disease. As a result I decided to study Chinese medicine just to take some control back into my life and help myself be healthy as so many doctors told me there was very little that can be done for this disease.
So fast forward my double degrees, I opened up private practice in 2003 and started hearing people struggling with similar stories as my own. At the time I honestly thought I was the only person with this disease and no one knew how to help me. Feeling and knowing the pain people were experiencing I realised I had to share what I did. So I started making little sample pots of cream, little brown bags of tea to take while taking the herbs I was prescribing and over time patients wanted more as they were so happy with how their health was improving.
I decided in 2007 to launch Salubre Teas and 2010 launched Salubre Cosmeceuticals and 2011 launched Salubre Therapeutics. Basically each and every product I have, even the books I have written and the online program I have was inspired by my 18 year old self. What did I need then to be healthy? How can I get this to people out there to help them along their journey to better health?
What challenges did you face trying to get your business up and running?
The biggest challenge for me was looking at the business as an entrepreneur not a health practitioner. When it comes to running a business, most people will take small steps, perhaps launch one product and focus on that then another and another.
I had in my head that these people are suffering and to get complete resolution they need ABC which led to launching many products in a very small space of time. As you can imagine this impacts your ability to effectively market your product and let people who would gain benefit from your products actually find out about them.
What would be your top tips for other mums who are looking to start a business?
Do your research first. Where is the need in the market? Is there anyone out there doing what you are doing? Understand why you want to do this. Find yourself a mentor, someone who can help you take the adequate steps to move your idea forward. There needs to be a love for it as the tough times (which are many and often lonely) will test your dedication.
Don't compare yourself to anyone else, with social media it seems everyone has it all sorted but in reality it takes hard work. But it doesn't need to be hard if you have a great mentor to help you along the way.
Also don't let anyone bring you down. You will be required to take yourself out of your comfort zone which is awesome but others may see this as crazy. Live your life, follow your passion, wake up every morning with excitement as in business you never know what the day will bring. If you lose sight of this, sit yourself down and meditate. Calm the nervous system down and you will come back to where you should be.
Why do you think so many mums are successful in business?
I think we are great with managing so many things at once. When it comes to small business there are many things we must do and we are great at getting things done. As the saying goes, ‘If you need something done, give it to a busy person’.
I also believe mums are great support for other mums. They know there are challenges, they form a great community of like-minded women and are able to bounce ideas off their peers. This is essential when running a household and also running a business; they are not that dissimilar.
What does the ideal Mother’s Day look like for you?
For me it’s waking up and being present with my family. I'm not concerned about breakfast in bed or any presents. It’s more important for my attention to be focused on spending time together and doing something fun. Not thinking about anything that needs to be done but just cherishing that time I have with my family. Having your own business takes you away from your family at times so whether its Mother's Day or any other Sunday we are always focused on being there and creating some great memories.
Best advice your mother gave you?
‘Being educated will give you freedom’. My mum came here from Greece when she was only 17 and met my dad here. The got married soon after and had every intention of going back home; my dad had other plans. But she came to love it here and was grateful for staying as the opportunities she had here compared to her siblings in Greece were vastly different.
Her deepest regret was not following her passion for law as she always wanted to be a lawyer but her father said she must be home and take care of the family. She didn't follow her dream of becoming a lawyer but she did develop the skill in being a fantastic hairdresser who ran her own business and only just retired.
My mum was my rock and still is. During those challenging years in my teens and 20s she was there for me emotionally and courageously looking for answers to help me when so many told her to stop wasting her time. My mum is a fighter but she is hugely passionate and loves her family who she does so much for. I honestly don't think I'd be where I am today if it wasn't for my mum.
What is the biggest lesson you’ve learned so far?
Each and every challenge in my life whether it be personal or in business has incredible depth of insightful lessons for me. At the time it can be tough but whenever I have reflected on the experience it has always led me towards my path. Having faith is most important in knowing everything will be ok if I just listen to what the lesson is trying to teach me and stop trying to control my circumstances. Some things just need to happen for the greater good of where your life is meant to go.
What can we expect in 2020?
I'm super excited for 2020. A new decade and I’m a lover of even numbers. There are continued plans to reach more people and let them know there is more hope to help them with their skin health concerns. I would love to do more live events to meet people in person and listen to their stories. Making that human connection really feeds my soul and that's why I love consulting in my clinic so much. Everyone has a story and hearing that story and being able to help really makes my passion for what I have created grow. On the flip side a level of unknown is also there as we truly don’t know what the year will bring.
Make sure you check out our digital Mother's Day magazine. Click here to read it now!