A life-changing encounter at a University of Adelaide alumni event saw MBA graduate Barbara Gare throw in her career in `blokey' industries to launch an organic beauty range - and she couldn't be happier. Lana Guineay reports.
"Being active within the MBA alumni network is enriching and potentially life-changing, both on a personal and business level - something I have discovered first hand!" said Barbara.
Barbara met fellow MBA Adelaide graduate and future business partner, Rose Bradshaw, at an alumni event in 2004 - an encounter that would change the course of her career, and life.
The two immediately hit it off and discovered shared core values about business, the beginning of what would flourish into an internationally-recognised business, Y natural.
"Eight months after our first meeting, Rose raised the idea of starting an organic skincare business together. She well and truly got my interest! I loved the idea of producing something authentic which, ultimately, has the potential to revolutionise the beauty industry."
It's an unlikely partnership, considering that in many ways, the pair couldn't be from more contrasting backgrounds.
Barbara started her career as a geophysicist in the oil and gas industry, climbing her way up the ladder in what are traditionally male-dominated industries. Rose, on the other hand, was owner of several successful hairdressing salons to the Who's Who in Sydney and Perth.
But more importantly, says Barbara, the two women shared a core belief in authenticity in business and the potential of what they were creating.
"In the end, those are the things that genuinely matter," she said.
"They bring you together, are the glue in keeping you together, and determine your focus in creating something together."
Committed to all-natural ingredients, ethical and transparent production, and education within the beauty industry, Y natural has tapped into a zeitgeist for all things organic, growing quickly and going from strength to strength.
In demand across Australia, the range has recently been picked up by prestigious department store Harvey Nichols in Hong Kong, with plans for an imminent launch in Europe.
The secret to success in a highly-competitive industry?
"We are exactly what we say we are," said Barbara.
"Many brands promote themselves as organic but, incredibly, still contain synthetic chemicals. One of our founding philosophies was that we absolutely refuse to compromise on our quality and ethics."
Barbara says her Adelaide MBA has been a critical part of her journey.
"I still value and make use of things I learned during my MBA, and every day without fail, I have reason to treasure the richness and wisdom that my MBA colleagues have brought me at so many levels, personally and professionally. I can't imagine where I would be without them," she said.
As past president of the MBA Alumni Association, Barbara has stayed closely connected with the University since graduating - and encourages alumni to do the same.
"When we graduate, we leave with an education, years of amazing experiences and connections to many different people. I see absolutely no reason why it should stop once we graduate."
To current students, Barbara says: "Learn all you can! Make the most of the expertise you have access to, not only from those out at the front of the lecture hall, but those sitting next to you. ■