International Women’s Day (March 8) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women from all around the world.
Observed since the early 1900’s – The world has witnessed a significant shift in both women’s and society’s thoughts about women’s equality.
Today we would like to celebrate one of our own, Mary Centofanti, who is leading the way as a successful woman in business.
She has turned Davroe into the thriving Professional Salon Brand that you see today. We sat down with Mary to ask her a few questions about her journey with Davroe and what challenges she had faced along the way.
Q: As a woman in such a powerful role and position at Davroe , have you ever felt like you haven’t been taken seriously or discriminated in anyway because of your gender. If so how did you overcome this?
A: I have been very fortunate not to have faced discrimination based on my gender or my nationality for that matter. When I started with Dresslier , my employers were very open to hear everyone’s point of view or thoughts. I never saw, or experienced this on my behalf nor did I ever see this happen to anyone else. I often get asked if I think there should be an equal amount of each gender in the business. My view on that is that every position is filled by the right person for the job regardless of their gender or race for that matter. At Dresslier we are fortunate that we do actually have 51% to 49% mix, but this has been achieved by finding the right people for the position.
Q: At the age of 15, working behind the desk at Dresslier the parent company of Davroe, did you ever imagine that you would one day be the one making all the decisions?
A: Never in my wildest dreams did I ever imagine that I would be in this position. When I started with Dresslier I was a young 15 year old starting a new job. When I think back now , I would always talk to my bosses like I owned the company, I would always ask, “What are we doing about this” “When are we going to do that”. I found out some time later that this is something that my bosses loved about me, they knew that I was interested in what the company was doing and that I wanted to be involved not just from a job point of view but genuinely wanting the business to succeed. I think the key for me was that I loved it so much!
Q: When taking over Dresslier, what was the biggest change you made to help Davroe move into the direction and brand we see today?
A: The biggest change was the formulations, when we made the decision to take over, in 2007, we needed to do things differently. The company was struggling at the time and Davroe wasn’t making any ground in the market place, so we needed to do something drastic. Dresslier was started in 1930, making us the first company in Australia to manufacture salon professional hair care, so we needed to make sure we made the right choices to keep this company going. Changing formulations to remove Sulphates, Parabens and Petrochemicals and also removing all animal and animal-bi products was a game changer for the brand, although at the time there was some resistance as hairdressers and consumers were not so sure about products that didn’t lather as much and thought that the products wouldn’t work. It was a bit of an uphill battle at the beginning, we needed to educate the hairdresser and consumer. Of course now, it’s what the majority of consumers want.
Q: We understand that having a brand that sits within the cruelty & chemical free market is becoming more and more of a necessity as consumers becomes increasingly educated on these topics. What made you decide to take Davroe down this path?
A: Changing the formulations was the biggest decision at the time, what we did with removing Sulphates, Parabens, Petrochemicals and making the product 100% Vegan was a turning point. We could see that the industry would eventually go down this path. The consumer was watching what they were eating now more and more, what they used on their faces, Mums and Dads were looking for low irritant products to use on their children. I had two young children myself so this was very important to me also on a personal level.
Q: What are a couple of highlights from your experience with Davroe so far?
A: There have been so many highlights. I always get a buzz walking past a salon and seeing Davroe on retail shelves. I love seeing someone post an image on their instagram, it’s these things that really hit home to me and it’s important that the hairdresser is confident to use it in their salon and that consumer’s love using the products time after time. These things are just as important as seeing the products being used on models in New York for runway shows. I love everything we do.
Q: What advice would you give to other aspiring entrepreneurial women that want to see success in their own businesses?
A: If you are passionate about something , that always helps, and you have done your homework, then I think everyone should give it a try and see where you can take something. I know, the time may not always be right but if there is an opportunity, you should take it. Yes there will be sacrifices and you need to make the choice, do you really want to take the risk or not? In the end only you know!
Q: As a family orientated woman, how have you been able to maintain a work life balance over the years?
A: This has been the hardest thing, although we have now found the balance and it makes all the difference. When you are starting up, you need to devote the time to grow the brand/company, there will be ups and downs, major headaches and things that need to be dealt with then and there. This is where the biggest sacrifice was for me, time with my young family. However, as the brand grew and we employed the right people, so did the opportunity to find the balance. I am so pleased and thankful that we have an amazing group of people that work for us, and I am excited to announce that we will be introducing them to you over the coming weeks and months via the blog!
Q: What is one of your favourite Davroe products that you’ve helped develop and why?
A: Oh! I love Ends Repair it’s my go too product, I know that anyone that tries it instantly falls in love with it. My other favourite is Luxe Leave in moisture, UV protection for your hair, seriously good!
Watch our interview with Mary Celebrating 34 Years with Davroe