On April 11, 2001, my life changed forever. My darling son who we were so excited to give birth to was born prematurely and died. Diagnosed with congenital heart disease, it was something that I never expected. Nobody ever talks about the possibility of losing your child or that they will have an abnormality during prenatal classes. In my grief, I did not want to return to life as a registered nurse anymore, so I focused on my beauty career, which I had started previously. Little did I know that this shift would be the beginning of a skin care empire I was yet to build.
My son’s death shattered me to my core and had me reexamining everything in my life. It made me realise the fragility of life and that life brings unexpected moments, so you may as well enjoy every moment you can whilst you are here. The death of my child also unleashed my intuitive side, something I did not even know I possessed. I had always looked at mystics with some special power, little realising my own healing abilities that resided within me. Once I started listening to this voice that was guiding me, my formulas and my products totally changed. The results I started getting became almost unbelievable.
The stress of our child dying led to the eventual breaking down of my marriage, which led to divorce. Upon divorcing I started my holistic skin care brand Roccoco Botanicals. Risking it all, I threw all of my divorce money into this business idea. My mother thought I was crazy and told me that if I failed, I would lose everything. I remember saying to her, “Then it is good motivation not to fail Mum.”
For the first two years I did everything the logical brain told me to do. I cold called and visited salons, yet I didn’t seem to be getting anywhere, so I stopped. I decided to follow my instincts and was drawn to the world of online forums, where I found my niche and expertise were developing and where I was becoming somewhat of a superstar in the industry. After having self-taught myself cosmetic chemistry initially, and then officially becoming a qualified cosmetic chemist, my opinion was sought out by many estheticians. Little did I realise at the time that all this work I was putting in now would be the reason for me breaking into the American market, something many other Australian brands had tried to do and failed.
I had been busy running my clinic full time, which left little time for promoting Roccoco, but this all changed on February 22, 2014. The discs in my neck were bulging and protruding on the nerves, causing severe compression and unbearable pain. No longer was I able to work anymore as a beauty therapist. Unable to hold a pair of tweezers or drive my vehicle due to chronic, unrelenting pain. I was struggling to provide for my two young children as a divorced single mother. Forced to go on unemployment benefits due to my health, the door of working as a skin therapist was closed and no longer an option.
I was frantically trying to think of ways in which I could build a new life for myself and my children. I had friends telling me to go on the disability pension due to my limited mobility and range of motion, however a large portion of me was repelled by this thought. I had grown up with little money and the idea of spending the rest of my life just making ends meet didn’t resonate with me at all. Besides, there was nothing wrong with my mind at all, I thought.
I had my first spinal surgery in May 2014 on my neck. In my naivety I thought once I had the surgery that my pain would be gone. The pain from nerve compression down my arm had disappeared, but I was left with chronic pain that required regular opioid medications to even remotely function. The back of my skull would feel like someone had hit it, and some days I would sleep for three hours during the day, as the pain would make me so fatigued.
I learnt all I could about pain and the management of it. I soon realised you can’t “push” yourself to keep going with pain, something I was used to doing on a regular basis previously. Coming from a military background, I wasn’t one to just back off easily if something was hard. What happens, however, with pain is that if you push yourself, your ability to do things becomes less and less, to the point that you become barely able to do anything.
It was a sobering reminder when I attended the pain clinic because I was the only one actually working out of all of the attendees. Everyone else was physically unable to work due to being incapacitated by pain. I thought to myself, “How can this be?” I was amazed that I was the only person still having a semblance of their past life prior to pain. It shocked me that they had not learnt how to control pain and work with it rather than against it. All of the other patients were doing what the pain clinic referred to as “boom or bust.” Instead of just cleaning one room of the house per day, they tried to do the whole house, which just made their ability for activity keep lowering until they were barely able to do anything.
I knew if I wanted to make something of myself that I had to learn everything I could about managing my condition, and so a student of neuropsychology I became. I learnt that the neural networks of the brain are plastic. This meant they could be moulded and reshaped. It was also around this time that I became exposed to the concept that our neural pathways also determine our results in life, as patterns of behaviour are what keep us stuck in our current circumstances. I was introduced to the teachings of John Assaraf and was fascinated by the mind and how we could control our results through reshaping our brain. This is when my fascination with goal setting, vision boards and the power of the written word emerged.
I wanted to relocate to Brisbane as there was a pain clinic there, but in order to take my children with me I had to go to court to have our custody orders amended. I was only earning 44K in revenue at that time, and the courts asked me to submit a business plan of my expected earnings over the next two years to prove I could support my children adequately. Unfortunately, I did not get to keep my children, and they remained with their father in Townsville. It was one of the saddest times in my life without them.
Years later, I was unpacking a box and found the documents that I had submitted to the court. I opened them again out of amusement to see what I had written down. I reread my lofty goals that at the time were so ridiculous and impossible I thought, until I looked at my accounting files to realise that not only had I hit that goal but exceeded it. The goal was 220K in two years and instead I hit 199K within the first twelve months and 261K within two years of relocating.
I forgot about ability I had inside me and went on with life until I again was reminded by my journal that I found in a packing box one day. I had literally written, “I have made a cream that annihilates eczema.”
My son Stuart had been suffering with his skin for over eighteen months. He would scratch himself every night to the point of bleeding all over his sheets. The itch was so unbearable for him. I was tired of onlookers staring at his skin, like he was contagious, and I didn’t want my child to feel ostracised. The only solution that the medical profession had were steroids, which I knew were not a long-term solution at all. I decided to put it out to the Universe and had completely forgotten I had done it.
As I looked down at the page and read what I had written, I was in disbelief. I knew of this phenomenon of the law of attraction, but I had never really realised that I had the power or potential to bring about what I wanted into my life. I was shocked because I had literally done what I wrote down. I had created a cream that annihilated eczema.
After this experience, I became more aware and more conscious. I began to realise that our words and thoughts literally create our results and so I became bolder with my visions and expectations. I started writing down everything I wanted in my life. From the relationship I desired to the products I wanted to develop. There was no area of my life I left out.
2017 was the year of beginnings and change. It was the year I met my soulmate and current husband. He was everything I wanted in a partner and more. Never truly believing in soul mates, I thought it was just rubbish. That was until I met David. Initially I was scared I would push him away with my driven personality, but he was not threatened at all. For the first time ever, I gave myself permission to go for my goals, without fear of the man in my life criticising me or feeling threatened.
2017 was also the year I had the most challenges, having three spinal surgeries in one year. It was a hard toll on my body, which was left with a lot of healing to do. It was the year I realised what I was truly capable of, and the year I recognised that if I can get through this, then I could achieve anything I desire if I put my mind to it. Even though nine months of the year I was in rehabilitation post-surgery and recovering, we still managed to double our revenue in that year.
April 2018 is when I came back to life. My pain became manageable, and I took back the reigns of my business again and started charting the direction we were taking. We reviewed all of our marketing and who we wanted to work with. I started examining our current customers and what I wanted in an ideal customer. We wrote out and declared what our perfect clinic was and who we wanted to work with. Our customers at the time were difficult to deal with and did not always bring us joy. We had over 350 clinics at the time, many of whom were not an ideal fit for us and our philosophy of treating skin. It was disheartening realising that there were a lot of people who truly were not the right fit for us, because we knew we had a lot of work to change who we were attracting to the business. However, it was the beginning steps of our total business transformation.
May 2018, for the very first time, we attended the Australian Cosmetic Chemists Conference in Perth, and I was introduced by a colleague to Angus Rose who was involved with Government Grants. They were looking for startups that were on the rise in the industry. I was told about a grant called the “Entrepreneur’s Grant,” but that you had to be doing 1.5 million in sales in order to be considered for the grant. The grant was through a selection process, and I was told after the fact that it was incredibly difficult to get and very few were selected.
The grant provided a maximum of $20K matched funding for assistance with marketing and development, with the company having to provide $20K of their own money as well. At the time, our business turnover was only a meagre $615K, but I was determined I wanted that grant. We came back from the conference and announced to my staff that I had set a new financial goal for the company of 1.5 million within the next twelve months. My staff looked at me as though I was crazy. In fact, they actually said to me, “How are you going to do that?”
I responded back very nonchalantly, “I don’t have a clue. I just know I am going to do it.”
I truly didn’t know how I was going to do it. I just knew that if I trusted, had faith, and followed my instincts that one thing leads to another, and doorways open that never were there before. So, I did whatever felt natural or I felt inspired to do. If an action did not resonate with me or felt off, then I didn’t do it.
I was intensely active on social media and my reputation grew. I had customers and clinics seeking us out to stock our product. At the end of that financial year, I had not only made 1.5 million in revenue, but I had surpassed it, hitting over 1.6 million.
The moment I knew we had achieved the amount required to apply, we put in our application for the grant, which was an extensive amount of paperwork. Thankfully, nobody had alluded to how difficult this grant was to get, because the rejection rate was high. We however did get approved and received the grant, which we used for software development within the company.
That moment of achieving the impossible was surreal. It not only reassured me and confirmed what I had known all along, but it made me even bolder again for the following year.
I immersed myself in personal development and business books, determined to keep growing at the staggering rate that we had done from the previous year. There was one book in particular that stuck out for me. It was Blueprint to a Billion. Within this book was a chart that showed the growth curve of billion-dollar businesses. Every business that became a billion-dollar business had followed this same growth trajectory. I found this fascinating, and I became obsessed with my own business, following the same pathway.
What was interesting was that it didn’t matter how long it took the business to get to a million dollars, it was what happened after they achieved their first million that mattered. There were some businesses like Google who achieved it within two years. Other companies such as Cisco took four years to achieve one million dollars, and other companies took twelve years. Roccoco Botanicals had hit one million within six years of the business starting. All of the billion-dollar businesses though either followed a four, six or twelve-year trajectory in achieving the billion-dollar business. It was this exact trajectory I became obsessed with.
So, we boldly set our goal for the following year of 2020 of achieving revenue of three million dollars, as I had wanted to double our revenue again. Once again, I didn’t really know how I was ever going to achieve this. It was so much easier to grow quickly when we were doing a smaller revenue, and much harder to sustain this rapid growth as we became bigger and bigger.
I informed my team again of my crazy goal, but this time they didn’t look at me like I was some delusional fool. This time they didn’t ask how I was going to achieve it. This time their faces lit up with excitement with me, as they knew I would probably end up pulling it off.
Our goal was three million for 2020. We not only hit it, but we again exceeded it. Twice now I had achieved a ridiculously bold goal. Our revenue ended up being 3.2 million for the year. I was elated with how everything was progressing.
So again, we set our goal for 2021, and then Covid hit, throwing us into a tailspin. The biggest challenge I would ever face, a natural disaster and completely out of my control. The first couple of months I reworked my vision board on a month-by-month basis, so I could keep focused. One of my slides read, “We have done our best months ever despite Covid.” It was so difficult not to spiral down in fear and to act on faith.
We had projects that were in limbo and hundreds of thousands of dollars in cash tied up that we knew we could not get back for ages. Our manufacturers in Italy were locked down for months. We had supply shortages and stock issues, with many delays in raw materials and packaging arriving. It was fraught with tension, and all of my staff were looking to their leader to see how I was reacting to the situation. One of my staff members declared that she “was not worried until she saw me worried.”
I felt an immense amount of pressure as I had twenty-two staff looking up to me to provide their livelihoods. The first few months were exhausting. I spent most of my time trying to prop our clinic owners up emotionally, as many of them had closed up like a clam and were spiraling down in negative emotion and despair. We hired another eight staff to help us put together kits for our clinics to allow them to sell at-home kits to their clients, since nobody was allowed into a clinic at all for treatment.
We had a couple of months where we were going backwards, but I knew that if I did not focus on what I wanted that the situation would not improve. I had learnt over the years to not focus on what was in front of you, but to focus on what you intended or desired to happen. Every single time I had done this previously, my cash flow improved, and orders flowed in.
During Covid we got a call from Angus from the Entrepreneur’s Grant. He called us to see how we were doing. He was expecting to hear a sob story, like every other candidate he had spoken to. Instead, he was surprised that we had doubled our revenue, where everyone else on the grant had gone backwards. Even though I was not happy with our growth, it made me realise how extraordinary our survival had been given the circumstances.
The power of intention and writing down your vision is transformational, but because of the simplicity of it many people dismiss its ability to change their lives. Writing down my vision and goals on my board has been an integral part of my business and personal growth. Not in a million years could I have ever orchestrated the connections and opportunities that have occurred. I have simply said thank you and acted on the opportunities presented to me and because of this my life is surreal.