As we celebrate Dresslier’s 90th Year, we take a moment to remember the strong family bonds this business has had since the beginning.
From the early years of John Sloan, working with his sons Robert and David; to David’s son Stuart, who is our formulating chemist 3 generations later; to Mary and John, our husband and wife team, who took over the business in 2007, and their many nephews and nieces who currently work in the business. Family means everything!
We fast forward to 2020, and we are excited to announce that Mary and John’s daughter, Sophia, has joined the company to continue the strong family traditions that Dresslier has held for so long. While Sophia has grown up living and breathing all things Davroe, there are a few new experiences that come with working in the family business.
So what is it really like for Sophia to be working with both her parents, and in particular, working so closely with her mother, Mary?
We thought this would be a great time for us to sit down with both of them, and reflect on the last few months of working together.
How do you separate work life from home life?
Mary: We have gone through a couple of phases in finding the right work life balance, when John and I took over in 2007, the company was struggling and we were always talking about business at home, then we realised that it was too much for us and the children, they were quite young then, so we decided home was for family and the workplace was for business. Now that Sophia and Michael are older, we often find ourselves talking about the business around the dinner table if it’s relevant, or something in particular has happened that day that we want to talk about.
Sophia: It’s all about balance. The most important thing for people to know is that when we are at work, Mary is my boss and not my Mum. She doesn’t treat me differently to other employees, but does expect more from me, and I think that’s the natural way to be. As a family, we all have so much passion for the business and like discussing ideas and opportunities for the future, so not having a distinct separation between work and home life isn’t an issue from my perspective. When my brother and I were younger, work wasn’t discussed at home, but it’s different now that we have a better understanding of the business and its background.
What’s the best and worst part about working together?
Mary: It’s great seeing Sophia’s enthusiasm, and hearing her thoughts about our brands; she is eager to learn and is not afraid of hard work. I think there is a lot to be said about a kid who is willing to come and work for her Mum and Dad, you need to have your wits about you and a thick skin. Unfortunately, I feel like Sophia, and the other family members in our staff, have to go that little bit over and above, which they choose to do, because they want to set an example.
Sophia: The best part about working together is that I get to work in (and on) a business I have grown up with. I can finally help to grow the brand I love, and work with products that I, and my whole family, have used my whole life. I’d say worst part would be how people outside of Dresslier view my position. I am so grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given, and am determined to prove that I truly am meant to be here. I have the drive and the right foundation to take this company to the next level, and am grateful that my parents have faith in that.
Do you have a favourite memory of working together at Davroe?
Mary: My standouts are when we are away at trade show overseas. Showcasing the brand and having Sophia and Michael working on the stand as a family unit is fantastic; it also gives them an opportunity to be exposed to different people in the industry. We always get comments saying how wonderful it is having our teenage children on the stand and it really is humbling to be able to share those experiences as a family.
Sophia: I’ve been lucky enough to work in a variety of departments; customer service, order processing, pick and pack, quality control, product development and media/marketing. I’ve tried my hand at a bit of everything, and it has giving me a more holistic view of how the company runs, and what Davroe really means, but I think developing new products together with my Mum has been the most exciting venture so far. I can’t wait for the public to get their hands on the incredible new creations we’ve been developing!
What is a moment in each other’s lives that you are most proud of ?
Mary: At the beginning of the Covid-19 Pandemic, Sophia stepped up and worked extra hours to help take stress of staff members who were working fewer hours than normal. To me, this showed that she was prepared to put in extra time, and not just be here because she is our daughter, but because she wanted to do her bit to ensure we would still be around to provide jobs for all our staff. I love that Sophia has grown into a mature, intelligent young woman, who has the ultimate respect for her peers and the company. She understands the culture we foster as a company, the vision and potential our brand holds, and the commitment she needs to make to help us be successful.
Sophia: I am proud of my mum for so many reasons. Taking over the business in the state it was in was a sacrifice that I don’t think many people really understand the gravity of. It was a massive gamble to change the brand the way they did; changing to formulas and packaging that salons and consumers weren’t very familiar with, or ready for! It was a change ahead of their time, but they stuck by it, and Mum had so much faith in what she was doing when no one else did.
How do you feel about working with so many family members?
Mary: We have a number of employees who are family, in the office, in the warehouse, out on the road. For me it’s about the right person for the position; if that all fits, I think it can be a great thing. They all know us personally, so they know what to expect, good and bad I guess! They also understand that there are no favours over and above any other employees, and that’s the key to working with family, ensuring all staff members are treated fairly.
Sophia: I do really love working with my family; it’s something I looked forward to growing up. People have different views on how working with family members can go, but for me I know every family member that comes to work with us is always going to put in extra mile. They see the drive in both of my parents, and are inspired to be a part of that.
What are your favourite Davroe products and why?
Mary: Oh, we have some beautiful products and it’s always hard to choose a favourite, a bit like my children. It’s probably not a surprise to a lot of you who know me, but Ends Repair is my holy grail product. It can be applied to wet hair and dried in, or to dry hair to smooth the hair follicle and calm flyaways – this is how I love to use it.
Sophia: I need Rebuilder, Formation, Thermaprotect and Ends Repair. Rebuilder has just about saved my hair from the repeated bleaching I have put it through and is such an underrated product. I am always heat styling my hair, so Thermaprotect is a must and Formation holds every style without fail. The day to day essential is most definitely Ends Repair, so many benefits in one little tube.
What is your favourite beauty product you are using right now?
Mary: My beauty therapist put me on to Ultraceuticals skin care, I absolutely love them and have seen such a difference.
Sophia: My favourite beauty product right now is the Kora Organics Balancing Rose Facial Mist, I spray it morning and night after cleansing, its so hydrating. It’s naturally important to me to support local businesses, so being and Australian Made and Owned company makes it so much better.
What is your favourite travel destination?
Mary: Too many favourites but New York is amazing, such a vibe, from the moment you step on the tarmac at JFK. On different note; the Greek islands, in particular Crete, quite simply, paradise. It also happens to be where my dad was born, so holds a special place in our hearts.
Sophia: I can’t say we have ever travelled somewhere that I haven’t enjoyed. I am so grateful to have the opportunity to travel as often as we do as a family. Every place we have been means something different, and holds different experiences. so it’s hard to choose one destination. I really enjoyed our most recent trip to Greece, we only ever travel for business so being able to spend a few days just relaxing with each other was really nice.
What advice would you give to other mother-daughter teams who are thinking of working together?
Mary: Go for it. To be able to provide your daughter with an environment to nurture her drive and talent is an amazing experience for both parties. Sophia has grown up in the business, both good and bad, so she knows what she is getting herself into, which is something I think is essential to establish before turning your family relationship into a business relationship.
Sophia: Trust your mother’s instincts, because she does know best (most of the time) and will only ever do what is right for you. It’s also important to make sure your passion for whatever you’re doing is being expressed and your ideas are considered. There is no better way to grow than being mentored by your mother.