Monday 19 March 2018

International Women's Day: CEO of Vita Liberata, Alyson Hogg is a female boss inspiring others to follow their dreams

Caitlin McBride

Caitlin McBride

Alyson Hogg is Founder and CEO of Vita Liberata - a company which specialises in advanced tanning methods - and former finalist in the Ernst and Young Entrepreneur Of The Year programme.

Since founding her company in 2003, after a period in her life where the Antrim-native confesses to being "extremely broke", the mother-of-five has seen Vita Liberata go from strength to strength.

Alyson worked hard to make her business a success, even re-mortgaging her house and falling ill with the stress of trying to get her company off the ground - all while raising five young children in a blended family after she remarried at the age of 39.

Now Vita Liberata services more than 500 Irish outlets, selling approximately 250,000 spray tans per annum in Ireland alone.

The products are also available in 26 countries with projected global retail sales of more than £50 million in the next three years. Not bad for a company that started off with just a £20k turnover.

To celebrate International Women's Day, Alyson speaks to about being a female boss and how she stays ahead of the curve.

What women inspire you, both professionally and personally?

When I was very young my mother told me to always make sure I had my own source of income, that with this would flow the ability to make real choices for myself, unencumbered by the expectations of others. She was right, and these words definitely inspired my professional decisions.

On a daily basis, my assistant Cherith is incredibly inspiring. Her belief in what can be achieved, and her relentlessly positive view of the world are a true motivator everyday! And luckily not only Cherith anymore, but actually I have a whole business full of women with this attitude. It gets me through every day!

Outside of work, Malala Yousafzai, Joan of Arc and Boudica are my daily inspiration.  

Do you aim to mentor aspiring career minded women?

Mentoring aspiring creative women is part of my job description. I wouldn’t be here without them. 

Sheryl Sandberg said she spent the large majority of her career pretending not to be a woman and trying to blend in, what have your experiences been as a woman in business?

I don’t really know the meaning of that. I have always just been myself, of course embodied as a woman, but not defined by my gender.

How do you compare attitudes towards women in business in Ireland vs abroad?

Poles apart. In my industry, the majority of influencers are female. Many people in Ireland find it surprising that a woman can lead 70 other women to global business success. Outside of Ireland, this is expected.  The EY Entrepreneur Of The Year programme allowed me to share my story in Ireland, hopefully it will have inspired other women to follow their dream and think big! Women are not just held back by biases and other men, sometimes we are held back by the expectations of other women. It’s good to be aware of that. -

What was the best piece of career advice you ever received?

Find meaning in what you do and remember to have a laugh. 

Since VL's launch in 2011, there is more competition in the false tan market, how do you stay ahead of the curve?

We stay ahead by always challenging ourselves in the uncompromising pursuit of best. I tend not to dwell on products others make, but rather on what will make our own category more accessible to all women. 

Was targeting the celebrity market crucial to Vita Liberata's growth?

We didn’t. The celebrity market (through their makeup artists) targeted the quality of our offering. But undoubtedly, the collaborations we’ve developed with certain celebrities are something we’re very product of.

How many people are employed by VL?

Over 70 as we speak, it’s always growing!

What's next for you and the brand?

Our technologies might pull us into new categories and new countries with new exciting partners, but at the core, our reason for being will always remain the uncompromising pursuit of best.

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