CEO and Founder of internationally-renowned tanning brand Vita Liberata, Alyson Hogg gives us some powerful advice.
On a lovely spring evening in 2003 I was in my kitchen at home in Northern Ireland. I was cooking spaghetti Bolognese, whilst reading feminist philosopher Carol Gilligan, and trying to help my youngest child with her homework. I was trying to finish a PhD in Philosophy of Psychology, be a competent mother, and earn some freelance broadcasting money by selling food supplements on Sky shopping, all at the same time.
The Bolognese was burning, the spaghetti was limp, my daughter was not being helped and I had read the same paragraph six times and still had no idea what it meant. Clearly I was doing too much and something had to give… so I had the bright idea that perhaps starting a business would be less stressful than an PhD (singularly the most naïve lightbulb moment of my entire life!)
My mother, who died when I was just 23, had suffered terribly from psoriasis, and I so I thought it would be wonderful to create multi-tasking skin solutions for really sore skin. Maybe I could sell it on television as well, I already knew how to do that so it would be really straightforward. All I needed was some bottles, a name and a great chemist to work with – right? How hard could it be?
If I had known then how tough this journey would have been, would I have founded Vita Liberata? Definitely not. But thankfully I didn’t know better, and now I am enormously proud of what we have achieved.
Don’t mind so much about how you look, or how others judge you – these are not the things that will bring you to your future self
I am the CEO and Founder of the Number 1 organic, sunless tan company in the world. I have had the privilege of working with the most amazing people along the way, mostly women, and together we have learnt the truth: that there are no knights in shining armour coming to save the day. If you need someone to fight for you, you had better be willing to be a warrior yourself. For you will have to fight, and fight hard, for finance, for respect and for recognition for both yourself and your brand.
Looking back, what advice would I give my 25-year-old self, and anyone else about to embark on their own crazy journey? You are worth way more than you think. Don’t mind so much about how you look, or how others judge you – these are not the things that will bring you to your future self. Focus on meaning, and truth, creativity, and integrity – these are the only qualities that mean anything going forward. And try not to take life too seriously – you are great, and it will all work out because you will make it work out! And lastly, assume nothing and trust your gut. It is almost always right.