She has a culmination of experience in the beauty industry, but growing up on her grandparent’s sheep farm in South Australia, founder of skincare brand Lanolips, Kirsten Carriol never imagined she would have the career she has now. Here, Kirsten shares with us her humble beginnings of how she started in the industry to experiences running her own PR company, Buzz Consulting.
Describe your current role?
Mother, wife, founder and owner of Lanolips.
When did you start Lanolips?
Lanolips was founded in 2003, but launched in 2009 into stores.
What inspired you in your career?
I loved beauty and had an interest in marketing (which I majored at in Uni), so an initial role in beauty advertising filled both loves, which eventually led me to starting my own beauty PR agency, which I had for 15 years. Following eight years in beauty, the idea for Lanolips struck me in 2003, which I finally managed to launch in 2009.
Was this career path part of your ‘plan’?
No, never. It happened organically once I started one thing, which led to another and so on. Kind of taking opportunities, making opportunities and doing what I love and working darned hard at it.
How did developing Buzz Consulting change your life?
It was a brilliant training ground in every aspect of business and marketing and beauty, which I now use to apply to Lanolips. It changed my life in every way – my friends, my core principles of my professional life were learned and honed at Buzz. I loved it – we were extremely successful and continued to be so until I sold the business. The last five years were a state of continual change in the way we communicated and the way customers found and consumed information, so it was critically valuable and important to ride inside that wave and understand what was going on and how to adapt.
What would you recommend to young PR and marketing industry people today?
Be prepared to work hard and to change fast, and often. Keep your eyes open and stay at the forefront of communication, because that is what your clients pay you for. It’s fun but fun comes with a price!
What inspired you to create your current business, Lanolips?
I grew up using lanolin at my grandparent’s sheep farm in South Australia, plus my father is a Professor of Genetics, and he always said the molecular structure of lanolin most closely resembles your own skin lipids; more so than any other ingredient in skincare. So that’s ALL we used. I then went into beauty and marketing and discovered all of the gorgeous luxury brands and thought they were better because they were expensive and prettier. It was eight years into the business that it actually dawned on me that they weren’t – and lanolin was the secret to true moisturisation after all. It turned out I had been chasing all these toxic chemical alternatives, and the truth was right in front of me. So I decided to bring lanolin back, in a sweet, timeless and sentimental way.
How has founding Lanolips changed your outlook on life?
I work harder than ever before, but do what I am totally passionate about, so I absolutely love what I do. Lanolips is a culmination of my personal and professional life prior, all bottled into one little brand. It’s very much my third baby. I feel like every product I make has its own personality - I incubate them for around two - three years each; it’s worse than giving birth.
How important do you think it is, running an Australian-based business, to feel supported locally - whether it be in either the beauty or fashion industry?
It is hard but possible. For my brand, as long as I can afford to keep doing ‘Australian Made’ then I will. For many businesses, it simply cannot add up, and that’s the hard-economic reality. We are running businesses, not charities, and have bills and salaries to pay, so the health of the business must be number one. So, at the moment we take a bit of a hit to keep it Australian made, but the benefits and morals of this still outweigh the alternatives right now.
How do you balance running an internationally renowned company and having a young family?
With great, great difficulty. I’m always dropping balls. My family comes first and what’s left goes to my business, and if things slip, I go easy on myself and just take a deep breath and go on.
Which are your favourite digital reads?
What does 'The Lano edit' offer to aim to its readers?
Tips and tricks for using our products, plus the jump on new upcoming products. Yet at heart we also want to show people how much our brand is loved by us, and how much care and joy is taken to create every product we make. I think everyone enjoys things that have taken time and thought – like a handwritten note or your Mum’s pie. So I guess it’s our way of bringing those dimensions to the consumer to give them deeper joy in using our products.
What are your overall thoughts on social media and our digital age?
It’s addictive, time-consuming, fast, thrilling and exhausting. I’ve always loved how ‘democratic’ it is, the survival of the fittest, a lot like human evolution, so that part of it is really interesting to me.
What does a social presence mean within the marketing strategy for Lanolips?
It’s really incredibly hard to gauge how much it affects an ultimate sale – print and TV still have the power in that respect. But it gives us as a brand some power back in being able to communicate directly with customers in our voice, in our way. It’s that direct line to the customer, which is a gift in marketing today. It’s a powerful treasure and we use it wisely.
Do you enjoy your career?
I absolutely love it!
What would be your best advice to offer a point of difference to others?
Don’t be afraid to be weird or different. Don’t be afraid to do what everyone else is afraid to do.
What is next? Where do you hope to be in 10 years from now and what will you be doing?