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5 Women Share Their Top Lessons Of The Past 25 Years

We asked five brilliant women to offer their best advice for life, career and beauty to mark Dermalogica’s 25 years in Australia

By Anna Saunders

Presented in partnership with Dermalogica Australia 

“Always own up to your mistakes”

Kate Morris is the CEO and co-founder of Adore Beauty

On life: “Integrity is something that takes a lifetime to build, and you’ll never be sorry that you did. There will always be temptation to do things the easy way or not to own up to mistakes, but it is always a good idea to do the right thing.

If you’re a leader, people need to know they can trust you – otherwise, you’ll have people trying to cover mistakes up, which is really unproductive. So many failings that we see are due to organisational cultures where people feel they can’t own up to mistakes, because that’s what leaders are modelling.”

Kate Morris, founder of Adore Beauty

On career: “This might be somewhat controversial, but I think that if you want to have a career and a family, the best thing you can do is to have your kids with a partner who is willing to pull their weight.

Unfortunately, the truth is that for women, if your partner is not willing to support your career by doing at least half the parenting and housework, something has to give. Somebody’s got to give something up. I’ve seen this play out countless times with people I know. It’s very, very difficult to make big strides in your career if you are also doing most of the work in the home.”

On skincare: My biggest skincare lesson? Sun block. Every day. I grew up in Tassie, where the sun is really intense and as a kid we only put on sunscreen if we were going to the beach. Now, I have freckles everywhere and I wear my sunscreen every day. SPF is your friend, and my favourite Dermalogica sunblock is Dermalogica Age Smart Dynamic Skin Recovery SPF50.

“You have to trust yourself”

Cybele Malinowski is a Sydney photographer whose work has appeared in Rolling Stone, Harpers Bazaar UK and Vice.

On life: “You have to trust yourself, because the only voice you will hear throughout your life is your own. You have to have respect for that and listen to it, and understand it.

It’s taken a lifetime to build my self-esteem, and when I was younger spent too long listening to other people’s opinions and doing what I thought I should be doing.

Photographer Cybele Malinowski

I studied communications law at 18 because I wanted to impress the world. But I realised it wasn’t right for me and, actually, the moment that I realised that no one actually cared about what I did – because they’re were too busy worrying about themselves – was the most freeing moment of my life. That’s when I started to become a happier person, and, in turn, a more successful person because I was able to believe in what I was doing.”

On career: “It’s okay to make a few false starts. It’s very hard to know what you want to do when you’re 18. After communications-law I studied architecture [before becoming a photographer]. In the end, I didn’t need either of those degrees, but sudying architecture gave me a level of discipline I wouldn’t otherwise have had, and a really broad understanding of design, space and light. I think it’s helpful to have lots of experiences because it makes you interesting as a person and valuable at work; you bring a different perspective.”

On skincare: “I wish I had respected my skin earlier. Growing up, I had such great skin. I was lucky, and I took it for granted. Looking back, it was the best accessory – when you have good skin you don’t really have to worry about your outfit or your hair or your make-up, because your skin is the best accessory! Now, I’m trying to teach my children that. I love Dermalogica Daily Microfoliant.

“Let go of perfectionism”

Kristie Millgate is Dermalogica Australia’s general manager

On life: “I can be a perfectionist, but I’ve gradually learned that it’s ok not to get everything absolutely perfect all the time. Having my daughter (now five) was the catalyst for that realisation. Until that point, I was heavily focused on my career – I could stay back until 10 o’clock at night – and then I had a baby and realised that I had to let things go a little, and to try to give her energy as well.

It was around then that I also learned that it’s ok to ask for help. One of my biggest life lessons has been realising that that not absolutely everything needs to fall on me.

I’ve always been very driven. I believe that women and men are equal and, when I had my daughter, I wanted to demonstrate that women could have children and still have a career.

Kristy Millgate, General Manager of Dermalogica Australia

On career: “If you do something that you’re passionate about – that is true to your values and who you stand for – you’ll be more successful in your career.

As I’ve moved into the corporate world, I’ve also learned about the importance of listening and keeping an open mind. Delegating was also something I had to learn, because at the beginning of my career I held on tightly to everything, but now that I have 14 direct reports, and 150 people in our Australian organisation, I physically can’t do it all. There aren’t enough hours in the day.  Instead I ensure that I convey our message, our purpose and values clearly, and then delegate. That builds the team, too, because you’re giving them ownership of it.

On skincare: One of the biggest lessons that I’ve learned on my skincare journey is to pay attention to your whole body, not just your face. As you start to get older– you’ll start to notice it when people haven’t maintained a full-body routine. You’ll notice dry elbows or cracked heels.

It takes a little more time to get ready in the mornings, but I always make sure to moisturise from head to toe, and I make adjustments depending on the season. In winter, I add Dermalogica’s Phyto Replenish Body Oil to my body moisturiser and in the warmer months, when there’s a little more humidity, I might just stick to the Dermalogica Body Hydration Cream.

“Be kind”

Rachel Duffy-Packer is General Manager of Beauty at David Jones

On life: You can never know what other people are going through, so it’s important to be kind. From a very young age, my mother told me that if you smile at people, it’s very difficult for them not to smile back – and it creates a ‘Butterfly Effect’ because they’re still smiling when they see the next person. So, that’s something I still do – smile at strangers when I’m walking down the street. I think that having a good dose of humour and humility helps with most things.

Rachel Duffy Packer, David Jones General Manager, Beauty

On career: My top lesson would be to look, listen and learn – and don’t be afraid to ask questions. The loudest person in the room is seldom the smartest. If you want to be innovative and future-facing, you need to listen carefully to what’s going on around you. And then you need to trust your instincts and back yourself. There’s something to be said for not giving up and just working hard.

On skincare: Given my Celtic complexion, SPF is my number one piece of advice. I’ve been diligent since I’ve been in Australia, but every time my children go out the door, I slather them in sunblock, including on the tops of their ears! The other lesson I’ve learned is the importance of sleep. The joy of youth is that you can stay up late in the night and still look fresh in the morning. Now, if I don’t get sleep, I have to cheat with make-up!

Dermalogica's iconic skincare products have been available in Australia for 25 years PHOTO: Georgina Egan, Styling: Jack Milenkovic

“You’ve only got one skin, so look after it”

Rita Amin is the director of Pure Indulgence, a network of 11 Queensland spas, which stock Dermalogica

On life: I’ve come to realise the importance of work-life balance. I’ve been in the beauty industry for nearly 33 years. In the early days [of Pure Indulgence] I was working six days a week. I was very focused on the business, and it took a toll of on my health. After having my second child, I had glandular fever and I remember pretty much working right through it, and after that that I kept getting sick, every month. I felt very distanced from my family.


Rita Amin of Pure Indulgence spas PHOTO: Justine Walpole

So, my advice would be to appreciate the importance of work-life balance and look after your health as well. Now, I always leave the work part behind when I come home. When I’m at work I’m 100 per cent businesswoman, and when I’m at home I’m 100 per cent mum.

On career: Passion for your industry has to be number one. I am so passionate about my massages and facials, and my reward is having amazing relationships with my clients, understanding my clients and providing an escape for them. I’ve always been hungry for knowledge and I think that staying challenged and interested keeps you in the game.

On skincare: Keep your skincare routine quite simple, and give products time to work on your skin. I love Dermalogica because we have very similar values, and they are innovative. Dermalogica does its research and development very well. My skin has become quite sensitive as I’ve grown older, so I love Dermalogica’s sensitive range.

This story was presented in partnership with Dermalogica Australia, which is celebrating 25 years in Australia.

Dermalogica is a female-founded company committed to women’s empowerment. Dermalogica has funded loans to more than 100,000 women entrepreneurs to start or grow their business. It is also committed to sustainability and is cruelty-free and recognised by both PETA and Leaping Bunny.


BY Anna Saunders

Anna is the co-founder of PRIMER. She'll take all the advice she can get

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