From the people that inspire her most to the mantra she lives by and her own Aveda favourites, meet the inspirational force guiding the brand you love.
Hi Barbara! To begin with, tell us what you do at Aveda…
I describe myself as the Chief Steward of a group of fantastic people that drive a mission-orientated, high-performance, naturally-derived brand of hair care.
How did you break into the beauty industry?
At University, I worked on a business case for a large cosmetics company and was invited to do an internship with them. From there, I worked with their team to launch a new product line. This is where I fell in love with experience; fell in love with beauty; fell in love with hairdressers – their entrepreneurial side, their artistic side, the way they make things personalised. I haven’t left the industry since!
What inspires you most?
Action! Things that move, people that move, companies that move – those who are not afraid, who take risks. If you don’t take risks, then you never win. That thought inspires me every single day.
What does International Women’s Day mean to you?
International Women’s Day denotes a feeling of sisterhood, a feeling of empowerment. It demonstrates to younger generations that anything is possible if they dream big enough. It celebrates how far we’ve come; reflecting on what our great-grandmas, our grandmas, and our mums have accomplished for us, so that we can walk in their footsteps and magnify what they’ve done. It’s a celebration of what the generations before us have done to give us the possibilities that we have today. I think it’s fantastic that we have a day to celebrate and honour women, but I wish we didn’t need it. I wish we felt empowered every single day to shine our light, whether we’re a man or a woman. And I do think we are headed in that direction.
Describe some of your experiences as a woman…
Throughout my career, I have often been the only female in the room, but I have been lucky in that I have always been surrounded by feminist men – colleagues, mentors and bosses who have empowered me and pushed me like they would any person. That said, I don’t feel I have necessarily faced career challenges because of my gender specifically. On a personal level, I have travelled the world alone as a woman. People are always shocked by this, asking if I am ever afraid. But I am rarely afraid because I take caution to be aware of my surroundings. I think this applies as much to men as it does to women, but as a woman, you need to be a little bit more aware.
What’s your mantra?
My friends say I use the word ‘move’ a lot, and that’s because I believe in the energy and movement of life. When you stand still, you go backwards. In a situation, especially if it’s difficult and you don’t see a way out, the only way is through. You just need to take one step in front of the other and just move instead of standing still. Fear paralysis is detrimental, so keep moving.
Who has been the most inspiring woman in your life?
My mum. Since I was a little girl she would say: “Whatever you want to do, go for it. I will always be behind you. If you want to run naked through the streets, then I’m going to drive my car behind you and honk the horn and shout ‘good for you girl’. If you want to fly around the world five times, you go for it.” It gave me a real sense of empowerment. When you live all over the world, it’s nice to know you have a home, that safety net. And my mum is that safety net. Also, my mum has reinvented herself so many times in her life – she went through hardship but has made the best of it. She looks at things in a different way. She always has a vision of opportunity and possibility, rather than dwelling on the negatives.
What advice would you give your teenage self?
Enjoy, and keep going girl but take time to stand still and realise how beautiful the moment is. Since I was 14 (and to this very day!), I have worked hard to get to where I am, to see the world, to realise my dreams. I was always a studious person, waking up early and studying until late. But I have realised along the way that the journey is as important as the end destination. It’s so important to enjoy every single moment because it could be gone tomorrow.
Tell us about a book or podcast you love…
Photojournalist Sebastião Salgado has made a lasting impression on me. He spent most of his life taking pictures of these big, emotional moments for people, but it really drained him. So, he decided to leave that world behind and photograph nature instead. From there, he went on to rebuild his family farm that was completely destroyed by landslides, to the point where nothing green was left. The power of one man, of an idea, of a dream that made a big difference really inspires me.
We can’t let you go without asking – what’s your favourite Aveda product?
Nutriplenish™! I am so proud of the collection which we call our “mission in a bottle,” because it is high-performance, 94% naturally derived*, vegan, cruelty-free, sulfate-free, silicone-free and housed in recycled packaging. And I love the way it makes my hair look, feel and smell! Thanks Barbara! *From plants, non-petroleum minerals or water.