We can’t get enough of Zoë Foster Blake.
If you’ve never heard of Zoë, here’s what you need to know. Zoë is a beauty guru. She’s a journalist, a blogger, and a beauty writer, the founder and creative director of the beautiful skincare brand Go-To and she’s also written six books – one of which is now being turned into a TV show.
The thing we love most about Zoë is her emphasis on fun. Zoë says having fun is the most important part of everything she does, and you only need to read the captions on her Instagram photos or the copy on her Go-To products to know that’s true.
Zoë Foster Blake. You are so many amazing things – journalist, author, business owner… When people ask what you do, what do you tell them? What’s your elevator pitch?
That is a great and very timely question. I used to really struggle with that, particularly when I was about to get on TV or do press and people would ask: ‘how do we introduce you?’
On my passport I say ‘writer’. I used to write ‘author’ but it just invited annoying questions like ‘what book have you written?’ and ‘will I have read it?’ and writing like ‘CEO of skin care company’ just felt ridiculous, so it stays at ‘writer’.
I used to really want to narrow it down to one thing, but honestly, in the last few weeks I have realised that I’m fine with being a bit of a jack of all trades and that my favourite thing is creating things – so I’ll just call myself a ‘creator’. I like creating content, I like creating products, I like creating books. And because I never know what direction I’m going to go in, to just call myself a ‘writer’ or something doesn’t seem completely true.
So will you write ‘creator’ on your passport?
No, no. I’ll still write ‘writer’. But in my own heart, I like creating things so I’ll call myself that personally. But having said that, writing is the key link with all of them. No matter whether it’s a book or a column or the copy for Go-To, it’s the writing that I get the joy from and love.
Speaking of books, you’ve got a new book. Congratulations on Amazinger Face. Can you tell us a little bit about the new book and how it differs from the first edition, Amazing Face?
The first book came out five years ago and it was all my best tips from 10 years of being a beauty editor, stylishly vomited into one gorgeous book. These were all the tips that I loved and really believed in, and was constantly regurgitating to other women at dinner parties.
Five years later the landscape has changed, there are heaps of new products available. Social media and online shopping has exploded and there are new brands that weren’t around or accessible five years ago. My life has changed too – I’ve had a baby so I can write about pregnancy and beauty and now that I have a natural skin care range I can write about nasties in skin care.
Who should own Amazinger Face?
Oh everyone. Everyone with a face. Every female with a face!
No I’m going really hard on the teenage angle this time because I feel that that’s when women get in to make up – when they’re 12, 13. That’s when they start messing around with cosmetics. I feel like if you’re a mother and you have a daughter almost from 11 or 12 on, this book is a really good way to get them into good habits young. Because if you’re a mum and you say ‘don’t pluck your eyebrows,’ teenagers are not going to listen. But if they read it in this book they might. And if they read about how unflattering black eyeliner is all around the eyes, hopefully they won’t do it. It’s about teaching teenagers about good skin care and routine so they don’t mess up their skin and they do wear sunscreen.
So I definitely want to get that young audience schooled right. But it’s also for anyone who is stuck in a rut or is confused and that’s also why Go-To came about – because of that overwhelming confusion women have, particularly with skin care but really all aspects of beauty.
When it comes to beauty and skin care products, there is so much out there for women to choose from. For the less knowledgeable amongst us, what would you say are the core products women should spend money on and what products can we save on?
It’s not about money at all. I think the key thing to look for in skin care is ingredients and work backwards from there. Women are increasingly getting inflamed, angry skin from irritants – it’s getting worse. So if you do have any sort of sensitivity, buy products with the least amount of ingredients and know what the words mean on the side of the box.
If you are going to spend money, get your brows done professionally. Get the occasional facial and that will do a lot of the heavy lifting. If you’ve got good brows and good skin, you can wear less makeup and you can spend less time doing your face in the morning. And time is the most valuable thing for most women because we don’t all have two hours in the morning. And even if you did have two hours, I reject the notion of it taking that long and using 20 products.
(You can read more about Zoë’s skin care tips on the Go-To site here)
Let’s move on to the business stuff. You have your own business – would you consider yourself an entrepreneur?
I think it’s a positive word and I love that there’s a boom of creativity and small business and I’m so happy to support other people and particularly women doing small business.
I think a true entrepreneur though is not just doing a product that already exists in a different way, but truly is finding a gap and creating something that doesn’t already exist. There’s a sense of creativity that has to come with true entrepreneurship. And I really respect that. I think that ideas and gaps in the market are magic – it’s magic when it happens and I’m fascinated by that stuff. I listen to tonnes of podcasts about business, entrepreneurship, success, not going stuck in the busy trap; it’s sort of like a meditation for me – to hear other people and what they’ve learned. Then I can avoid those mistakes! And try and get better at juggling it all.
What are the lessons have you learnt since starting your own business?
A lot of it is faith and taking a leap and a risk. And that’s the whole Go-To thing and with books. You have an idea and you say ‘shit, I hope this works’ and then you invest so much of your time and love and energy and effort into it by the time a book or a movie or whatever it is comes out – and I think most people would agree – you’re sort of a bit sick of it. But then you get this burst of feedback and involvement and engagement and it’s magic.
So I think in those moments when you’re on the precipice and you’re like ‘we’re about to launch a new product should we order this amount or this amount or should we go modest and conservative or should we really invest in this?’… That’s a big call and I’m new to business and I’m standing there as if I know what I’m doing but I’m like ‘you know what? Just make the big batch and hope that it flies.’
I believe that the universe rewards momentum. Just keep going forward like you know what you’re doing – and that is totally what I’ve done with my whole career, just pretend that you know what you’re doing, just pretend that you know how to run a business. But having said that I have an amazing team and I couldn’t do anything without them. They facilitate every of my stupid ideas and I love them deeply for it.
We can’t think of any other skin care brands out there that make you laugh like Go-To. It’s a real point of difference. Was that a deliberate move?
I wouldn’t say that it’s a predetermined or deliberate move. I can honestly say that I start at a point of what’s fun for me. If it’s fun for me to do and create, that’s kind of the joy for me. If that becomes infectious and it’s picked up by others, then that’s a bonus. And I think my husband and I have both been very lucky in that what we’ve chosen to do is very playful and fun and people enjoy it and have fun with it. We’re not saving lives, we know that what we do is frivolous but we are deeply appreciate of any audience we feel because we’re having a fun time.
So it’s not that I go ‘I really need to stand out,’ it’s that I think ‘well, if I was receiving a box of beauty and skin care, I wouldn’t expect jokes and I wouldn’t expect a fortune cookie and I wouldn’t expect a funny website’. And I love surprising people because that beauty industry is pretty inherently earnest and serious and I wanted to mess with that because why not, really?
I go on Instagram every morning and night and check the Go-To hashtag and I send them on to my designers and team and say ‘look what you’ve done!’ I love it. When people put up photos of their package or the copy on it, or their fortune cookie, I couldn’t ask for more than that sort of sharing and word of mouth because they’re having fun.
What kind of role have other women had in your career and success? Do you have a mentor?
I have had the luck and good fortune of being in women’s mags for a long time so I had Mia Freedman, Alison Veness-McGourty, Bron McCahon, Justine Cullen – these have all become friends as well. And then in business Megan Larsen – she is a mentor and a confidant and she’s incredibly wise and I adore her. She’s helped in the skin care and particularly in the business side of things.
I would actually say that my husband has been the most helpful in terms of business and support and all of that because he’s an incredibly creative but he’s also really business savvy and I love that and I learn a lot from him.