By Lana Guineay
A lot has changed in the last three decades – just picture 1980’s hair.
It was in the height of eighties hair (in every sense of the word) that Mary Centofanti began her career at Davroe haircare. From receptionist at just age 15 to director – it’s been an eventful journey for Mary, who celebrates 33 years at the Adelaide-owned and operated business this month.
In that time, she’s taken Davroe from the brink of bankruptcy to international success story.
When Mary and husband John took over the company in 2007, it was “in a bad way” she says. Under their direction, it underwent a massive shake-up, driven by an eco-friendly approach that was ahead of its time. At the time, it was still rare to encounter brands producing vegan and natural products – the incoming director saw a niche ready to be filled.
“Things were changing, consumers were watching what they were eating and more and more were concerned with what they were putting on their faces and body as well as their hair.
“No one was producing a sulphate, paraben and petrochemical free range for the salon market. We also decided that we would remove animal and animal bi-products making us the first professional range to be 100% vegan here in Australia.
“It’s something we are very proud of. Our competition is only now starting to catch up.”
It paid off. Still SA-based and manufactured, Davroe is currently stocked across Australia and New Zealand, and sold through cult beauty subscription site Birchbox in the US, with stores in Washington and New York. It is also official hair partner of Fashion Palette New York Fashion Week, which showcases Australian designers to international audiences.
With 18 staff members, the majority based in SA, Mary says Davroe’s relatively small size allows them to be nimble and focused – key advantages in the fast-changing retail space.
“We do our own thing, focus on the path we have set and sticking with our goals. It’s very easy for us to ‘turn on a dime’ due to our size compared to the large multinationals… So we look at what everyone is up to but still stay focused on us.”
Mary says living and working in South Australia is unbeatable, and encourages young SA entrepreneurs to dream big – and do the hard yards.
“Do your homework, know the market you will be entering, what can you offer that market and what is unique about your product or service. Believe in your product and most importantly in yourself.”
“Life is too short for what if’s and regrets,’” she says. “Have a go, and enjoy the journey!”
This month’s Inside Industries stories made possible by sponsor Bendigo Bank