In Her Closet –Terri Vinson from Synergie Skin
We had a great time with the dynamic, inspiring and passionate founder of Synergie Skin, Terri Vinson. We were lucky enough to have a personal tour of the laboratory in Melbourne, where the internationally acclaimed Synergie Skin products are made and created. We also popped into Terri’s beautiful home for a coffee and to hear about how she built her successful brand and of course to peak inside her stylish closet.
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Name: Terri Vinson
Occupation: Founder of Synergie Skin
Tell us about what you do and what your days normally involve?
I start the day around 6AM with a cup of strong tea and a bowl of porridge.
I like to exercise every morning: a short interval training workout and a 10 minute Hypervibe session, whilst wearing my electronic ab-sculpting belt. I’d prefer not to go to the gym as I think I can achieve more at home without the time spent travelling. I then check my overnight emails and start to get ready for the day. Surprisingly many of my creative ‘a-ha’ moments happen when I’m in the shower. It must be another type of relaxation for me!
I head in to work after peak hour. At head office, I am typically in the laboratory with my lab manager, developing and perfecting my skincare and makeup formulations. The rest of my day is spent working with my team members in marketing, production, sales and finance to ensure I have a handle on the business as a whole.
In the evening I spend my time researching ingredients and writing articles and blogs for publications. I like to clock off for at least an hour at night with my daughter. We normally watch reality television which allows my brain to go into auto-pilot (I’m having Masterchef withdrawals!)
Can you tell us about your interesting background in Science?
My interest in science really began with my HSC biology teacher who nurtured my love of science and helped me to believe in myself. She even used to make cassette tapes that we could listen to while we were going to sleep to help memorise facts for the exams.
I studied immunology and microbiology at university in the 1980s and then went on to teach senior science. Teaching wasn’t for me, I’m a combination of a tragic nerd and a people’s person. I found I needed to branch out into business and discover my entrepreneurial side. Having a post-graduate diploma in formulating chemistry and extensive experience in the lab enabled me to create the Synergie range.
Why do cosmeceuticals interest you?
Most over the counter products are ‘passive’, and do not penetrate the skin to create visible, long-term change. Cosmeceuticals contain ‘active’ ingredients to create a change in the skin, rather than sitting on top of the skin for a feel-good effect. Cosmeceuticals are like an iceberg; you really need to understand what is going on under the surface. This is where the change actually takes place and this is where active ingredients really work.
Tell us about Synergie and how it came to be?
I have no regrets about any area of business I have pursued in the past, as it was all part of my journey to this point. Before I was married I had a number of years as a marketing executive for Colgate, this gave me so much insight into marketing and business analysis. A brief period with a cosmeceutical company as their educator and formulator also gave me confidence to branch out on my own. I realised that the market needed a product that delivered results without the hype and questionable ingredients. Synergie was a result of my philosophy to protect, change and nurture all skin and make people feel great about themselves.
Ten years on and we are still growing!
Do you have any advice for women wanting to start their own business?
I like to use my PATH analogy. In order to be successful in business, we have to have:
- Passion: Have belief and confidence in your business and yourself.
- Ability: Utilise your area of expertise whilst being open to outsourcing other areas and skills to help grow your business.
- Tenacity: Remain determined to achieve your goals and never give up.
- Hard work: Live and breathe your business until it has a life of its own. Starting a business is not a 9-5 job.
What traits have you noticed in other entrepreneurs that you see in yourself as well?
- Doing what you love rather than viewing it as a nine to five job.
- The ability to see the big picture for your business and not get too bogged down by minutia.
- Recognise your shortcomings and find team members that complement your skillset.
- Just do it! Having the courage to light the fire of passion and putting the steps in place to create a reality.
- Believe you can make a difference.
Who are your business or personal mentors?
Being part of the Business Chicks group I have a network of amazing women I can turn to. I recently attended a presentation by Tara Moss in an event in Melbourne. She is achieving so much in her life! Apart from being an accomplished author, she is a wonderful role model and is doing so much to promote equal rights for women.
Richard Branson also inspires me. He has a wicked sense of humour that seems to be infectious right throughout all his businesses. His book ‘Losing my Virginity’ is one of my favourites and highlights his tenacity and business philosophies.
What are some of the biggest risks you’ve taken professionally?
Walking away from my small skin clinic to open up my own laboratory and production facility in Burwood. I didn’t know if my brand would be successful enough to stand alone, but my fears were allayed within six months. Everything headed north from the time I became independent.
On Creating Balance in Life
How do you relax/unwind?
I love to paint. Standing in front of a canvas is my type of meditation; it brings me a sense of calm and allows me to unwind.
Besides your business, what else is important to you?
My girlfriends: I couldn’t survive without them!
Giving back: I am so grateful for what I have achieved and the opportunities I have. I support the charity ‘One Girl’ who help send young underprivileged girls in Sierra Leone to school and ‘Big Brothers Big Sisters’ who help to provide mentors to Australian children at risk.
What do you consider your most important achievement professionally and personally?
Professionally: Creating a vertically integrated, multinational business that focuses on helping people feel great about themselves!
Personally: Raising two amazing children who have grown into independent, creative, caring young adults!
Do you enjoy travelling? If so, where are some of your favourite places to visit and why?
Koh Samui, Thailand: Health, simple food and unbelievable massages! A real chill out destination.
Barcelona, Spain: The city has such a wonderful party vibe and Gaudi’s architecture blows me away. He was so ahead of his time.
Japan: The people are so kind, friendly and proud of their country. There is such a diversity of landscape and a rich sense of cultural identity.
On Personal Style
What do you wear to work?
Casual Armani blazer
Brooks Brothers classic white shirt
Arthur Gallan tailored black pants
My favourite Jimmy Choo kitten heels or simple ballet flats
How would you describe your style?
Classic, neutral/ autumn tones, simple lines, clean cut, well-tailored
Who is your style muse?
Grace Kelly – I love her timeless style.
My black Chanel large Tote bag. It can fit my laptop for when I’m travelling.
Favourite style tip?
Shop to suit your body and don’t be a victim of seasonal trends. Keep it simple, understated and elegant.
Item you’ll never part with?
The ring that my father gave me for my 16th birthday.
Go to outfit?
Leather jacket with a classic fitted shirt, tailored pants and pumps.
Can you tell us any books that have changed your life?
My HSC biology book was my bible – it really ignited my passion for science.
Favourite designers? (Australian and International)
Armani: The cut and styling of their suits are wonderful
Sass and Bide: Love their unique style
Alexander McQueen: for cocktail dresses
Acne: love their leather designs
Favourite piece in your closet?
My black leather crop jacket. I had one made for me and it goes with everything, trans-seasonal and feels wonderful!
Most recent purchase?
Vintage Chanel clutch that I bought in Japan
What will you be splurging on this season?
The new Samsung Galaxy Note 5. I’m a tech junkie and can’t wait for the latest gadget!
Must have beauty products in your bag?
- LipService cosmeceutical lipgloss and treatment 2-in-1
- Synergie Lipsync-C lipstick (in Fanta-C pink)
- Mini compact mirror
- Mini nail file
What is your beauty regimen?
- Synergie Superserum mixed with Pure Vitamin C crystals
- Synergie Revitaleyes Eye serum
- Reclaim antiageing moisturiser
- Synergie Minerals makeup
- Rejuvaderm Home Infusion Roller (to create channels in the skin for better absorption of actives)
- Synergie Ultimate A serum
- Synergie Vitamin B serum
- Synergie Revitaleyes Eye serum
At what age should women start to look at an anti-ageing beauty regimen?
Start investing in your mid-twenties. This is when females begin to change hormonally and I would invest in an anti-ageing serum with peptides.
What are the most common beauty questions you get asked?
- How can I make my pores smaller?
- What is a cosmeceutical?
- How do I reduce uneven skin tone and pigmentation?
- What is the most important product I should use for my skin type?
- How is mineral makeup different to traditional makeup?
What is the biggest difference between female skin changes in our 20’s, 30’s 40’s and 50’s?
- 20s: first fine lines and expression lines begin to form such as crow’s feet and frown lines. Also pigmentation can be evident either from hormonal imbalances or sun damage. Skin congestion and acne may also be a concern.
- 30s: Gradual increase in fine lines and loss of elasticity, particularly around the eye area. Skin dryness may become a concern and hyperpigmentation more evident.
- 40s: Increase in wrinkles, both expression lines and lines at rest. Hormonal changes are beginning and peri-menopausal state may be commencing.
- 50s: Menopausal state results in loss of fat and bone density. This results in loss of facial volume and sagging where the skin appears to be lax and lacking in firmness. Wrinkles and sun damage will also be more pronounced.
If you could only give 3 pieces of advice for looking after mature skin, what would it be?
- Use physical zinc oxide sun protection every day
- Invest in daily active serums containing retinol (Vitamin A), niacinamide (Vitamin B3) and L-ascorbic acid (Vitamin C)
- Avoid smoking
How should we change the way we wear makeup as we get older?
Less is more as we age. We should avoid shimmery eyeshadows and lipsticks as we age, as the shimmer particles can accentuate fine lines. Matte shadows, matt blush and dewy bases are ideal as we age.
Why do you prefer mineral makeup to traditional forms of makeup?
Mineral makeup should actually be an extension of your skincare regimen and not negate all the good work you do with your active serums and moisturisers.
Women absorb over 3 kg of questionable and toxic ingredients from their beauty products every year! Mineral makeup is clean- and good for you! If formulated correctly, mineral makeup should be free of artificial colour, parabens and artificial fragrance. It should also offer sun protection, a dewy natural finish and allow your skin to breathe and function better.
What’s next on the horizon professionally and personally?
Professionally: I plan to focus on developing my international market. At the end of the year I will be going to Hong Kong to work with my distributor and attend a conference. I will also be going to the UK in 2016 and intend to work on developing new business in Taiwan, Malaysia and Singapore.
Personally: It is challenging for me to fully unwind – I travel often for business so I’m going to Pearl Laguna health resort in LA later this year on a personal pilgrimage to learn yoga and meditation. I’m also looking forward to my ‘girl’s trip’ to New York in 2016 with my four girlfriends.
Know a fabulous woman with an equally fabulous closet? We’d love to speak to her.
Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org
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Photo credit: Our friend and talented photographer, Meagan Harding at www.meaganhardingphotography.com.au