Zoë Foster Blake
Meet Zoë Foster Blake, author, beauty editor, and founder of Go-To Skincare, an cruelty free Australian-based skincare brand best known for its no-nonsense marketing and effective products. The brand speaks to its millennial consumer base from a place of honesty and transparency, with straightforward copy and a refreshing candour.
I spoke with Zoë to get to the root of the brand and discover what lead her to start her own brand, and how she grew that brand from Australian novelty to a recent launch in Sephora.
Keep reading to find out!
THIS INTERVIEW HAS BEEN EDITED AND CONDENSED FOR BREVITY AND CLARITY.
"What inspired you to start Go-To Skincare?"
As a beauty editor, I was privy to a ton of feedback from women on skin care. What I found was women would go to their facialist or they would go to a department store and they would come out buying all these things, they didn’t know why, or how to use them, and they felt confused and frustrated. I think we're happy to bluff our way through makeup and hair and have some fun with it and not get too attached to it, but skin forms an enormous part of our self-confidence, and skin care is something we want to get right. I wanted to create something that was simple, effective, really user-friendly and that made beauty fun, not intimidating or baffling. It’s self-care! Enjoy it.
"When did you decide to work on Go-To full time and how did you know it was the right move?"
I'd already left full time work to focus on writing books when I started Go-To, so I had a good whack of time and energy to commit to it. In fact, from memory, I was itching for a new project. As usual.
"What external factor do you feel helped you succeed in your career?"
Timing! Timing is (almost) everything. I began beauty blogging early on, 2006, which by sheer virtue of the fact I was one of the early adopters, cemented me as an impartial digital beauty influence, outside of my masthead beauty editor roles. With Go-To specifically, we launched at a time (2014) when women were starting to feel open to D2C (direct-to-consumer) shopping, clean skin care was really building momentum, and people were looking for engagement and transparency from the brands they bought from. We have worked incredibly hard on our products and the brand, but timing was absolutely a fat four-leaf clover in our back pocket.
" What does a typical day look like for you?"
Every day is different, but I try to compartmentalize weekdays. Monday is Go-To day, Tuesday is book/publishing day, Wednesdays are with my daughter Rudy, who just turned one, Thursdays are reserved for Go-To/business/admin, Fridays with both kids, and Saturday mornings – if I'm lucky – are put aside to write fiction.
"Where do you see Go-To in 5 years, especially since your US launch?"
I find it impossible to look ahead. I have to, of course, especially when it comes to NPD (new product development), but I really do think if you focus on doing good work NOW, in this minute, the future takes care of itself.
"What is the biggest challenge you’ve had to overcome in starting Go-To?"
There is so much on me personally for this brand. Which comes down to, 'Alright so we're making a new product, how many should we manufacture?' and I'm like, 'Oh, shit, I don't know.' You could pluck a number out of the sky—but is that too many? Or is that naive? And how long will it take to press the button on more? When we first launched Pinky-Nudey Lips, it was just meant to be a filler product before the next product came out, and it sold out in one day. We were like, ‘We did NOT see that coming.' There's so much fortune-telling involved in business, and I'm not good at that. My sweet spot is product development, copy and marketing.
"What is your favorite Go-To product"
I use them all, religiously. But if I had to pick it would be Face Hero.
"How does your education tie into your current career?"
I have a BA Media and Communications, which SOUNDS like it would be a tremendous help, but it is not. I reckon my years of writing for magazines and engaging with women as a blogger were far more helpful: I write how I think and speak, and I make products and write about skin care in a way that directly responds to how (I believe) women think. I think University is great for the non-vocational stuff: expand your brain with philosophy and social sciences, and take a few years of being a party-going goose while you bridge that gap between school kid and full-time working adult.
"What advice would you give to women looking to build their own brand?"
Do what you want. Emphasis on ‘you’, not ‘want.’ I mean this in a literal sense: make or do a thing that you personally believe is missing from the world or market, but which you would like to exist.
"What big projects do you have planned for the next few months?"
Oh, so much! Since we create completely clean products, devoid of synthetics and irritants and all the handy stuff that makes skin care uniform and obedient, our NPD takes aaaaaages. (Also I’m an unapologetic perfectionist; that always adds on a year or two.) Anyway, we’ve had some products in dev for four years that are just about to launch; 2019 is gonna be a huge year for us. Watch this space.