Following a 14-year-long career working in marketing and management roles in the FMCG and construction sectors, Renay Robertson realised her skills and experience would be of more value to small businesses. Having completed a 5-year stint in consulting, Renay was inspired to become a small business owner herself.
“I had always had a strong interest in skin and was forever trying the latest thing, striving to get that perfect complexion,” she says. “Through experiencing my own skin problems, I saw a gap in the market to launch Haven Skin Spa.”
The first Haven Skin Spa clinic opened in Mt Eden November 2014 and the second clinic opened in Takapuna in December 2017. Renay speaks to Fashion Quarterly on her career, challenges, achievements and the elements fundamental to her success.
What do you love most about your job?
First and foremost, I love the people – both the team and our clients. I love that I am always learning something new, and actively go out of my way to do so. There are always new scientific developments in the skincare industry (some good, some fluff) so I love getting into the detail and really understanding it all.
What is your biggest accomplishment at work or a moment you’re most proud of?
Turning around a business that was employing just one person to a flourishing business that now employs nine people and is still growing.
What is the biggest obstacle you’ve overcome, as it relates to your career or industry?
There is a lot of misleading claims and marketing hype in the beauty and skincare industry which has caused a lot of mistrust and confusion. I constantly see clients and friends wasting money on things I know won’t live up to the promises on the packaging so trying to help clients cut through all the hype and figure out what is right from them is a huge obstacle.
What motivates you?
Being genuine. This is an acid test that I apply to all business decisions. Unlike my previous experiences in the corporate sector, I do not operate solely for the bottom line. Being commercially viable is vital of course, however being able to develop our services in a way that is genuinely solving a client’s need or problem, and not being pressured to “sell for sell’s sake” is extremely motivating and rewarding.
I constantly see clients and friends wasting money on things I know won’t live up to the promises on the packaging, so trying to help clients cut through all the hype and figure out what is right from them is a huge obstacle.
What do you believe has been the key to your success?
Work ethic and resilience. You can be the smartest person in the pack but without work ethic, it means nothing, same if you fold easily with setbacks. In hindsight, setbacks have often motivated me to work harder and propel forward – this is something that I have let go of a little bit over the past couple of years but have enjoyed recognizing that and understanding how to get it back on track.
What do you wish you’d known at the start of your career?
In my early twenties, I had a traditional, one-dimensional idea as to what success looked like and set my goals and career path according to that. Like many, I thought that once I achieved XY & Z, I had made it, I had arrived. But, as a person you are constantly evolving, you develop a better sense of yourself and become more aware of your values. For the first 10 years of my career, I didn’t allow myself the flexibility to alter my goals, which lead me to be too hard on myself. I wish I had known that there doesn’t have to a be a race to a defined “final destination” but rather a fun and interesting journey along a zig-zag path.
What is your life motto?
Experiences over “things”
What’s the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Don’t take a “no” from anyone who wasn’t in the position to give you a “yes” in the first place.
What’s the best piece of advice would you give to your younger self?
Plan for the future but live and appreciate the current moment.
What do you think are the biggest challenges facing women in the workplace?
While we still have a long way to go, it’s wonderful to see that defined gender roles are continually diminishing in the workplace. The progress made so far has enabled women to have more choice and opportunity, so the challenge for women is that we stay true to our values, stick to our choices and not let other people’s opinion sway us into the old-style societal framework that we still encounter from time to time. We shouldn’t be intimidated by what we don’t know as bringing a new perspective and new way of thinking to the table is a great strength.
Who’s your female icon or inspiration and why?
Michelle Obama, who also has great style, but is she also pioneering, confident, has a strong sense of who she is and what she represents; and does it all with grace and humility.
How do you relax away from work?
I work part of my week from my home office so it’s important to have some techniques to separate work from home life. I live in Piha so the best way to switch off is to head across to the beach with the dog. There is something calming about being outside in wide open spaces. Not only does it help me relax, it also helps me focus too.
When do you go to bed and when do you get up?
I go to bed around 10:30-11pm although I would like it to be more like 10pm, and I get up between 5:30-6am.
Who would you most like to be stuck on a desert island with? Why?
James Corden – I can catch my own fish but I’m going to need a laugh to pass the time.
When did you last act fearlessly?
Leaving the security of my salary to start Haven was a big decision and something I just went ahead and did without being fearful of the process or outcome. It’s a been a huge journey over the past 5 years and it’s still only just begun.
Who do you most admire in business? Why?
Richard Branson. He has been successful in a diverse range of very tough industries made up of big players. He showed us that failure is not the opposite of success, it’s part of success. He showed us that the business didn’t have to be conducted in a stuffy, traditional way and that you could have fun along the way. I also admire his abundance of enthusiasm, he values people and has a wonderful social conscious.
Leaving the security of my salary to start Haven was a big decision and something I just went ahead and did without being fearful of the process or outcome.
What do you believe is the secret to success?
I don’t know that there is a secret. It comes down to working hard, intuition and having a strong sense about what your goal is.
Who do you turn to when the going gets tough?
I’m not that good at sharing problems which is definitely a weakness and not something I would advocate. I do offload to my husband though.
The one beauty product that keeps you looking fresh?
In my line of business, it’s tough to have just one – there’s no silver bullet when it comes to maintaining a healthy glow but my current go-to products are Osmosis Refresh Eye Cream and Ultraceuticals Energizing Mask.
What’s the outfit that makes you feel empowered?
Crisp white shirt and/or a tailored jacket always makes me feel more grown up but true empowerment comes from within and for me it peaks and dips from day to day.