Your Brilliant Career Podcast
The go-to resource for getting the most out of your career
This podcast provides an injection of energy and practical insights to women who are committed to their career. I share tactics, tools and stories that inspire capable women to think bigger and unapologetically achieve the success they deserve.
One of my early realisations was that there are many unwritten rules about career success that no one tells you. Smart women are tired of generic career tips. They want accessible, relevant and practical tips. Each episode includes content that inspires women to step up in their career and experience the energy and reward of being more.
Your Brilliant Career is a podcast that aims to help more women rise and reach new heights in their career.
Following a successful career in the media industry, Irene Falcone built two incredible companies, one of which she sold for $20 million - and she only had that business for four years!
Today, Irene is the Founder and Director of Sans Drinks, which sells non-alcoholic beverages. Remember the pandemic where we all drank too much? Well, Irene emerged in 2020 post the worst of the pandemic with this company. She too wanted to cut down…
There is plenty to explore with Irene. I want to share with you how she built her businesses, her career prior to that, and how she defines herself. She is full of energy, enthusiasm and surprises, and there are a lot of interesting twists and turns in this conversation. Enjoy!
Links we talked about on the podcast include:
RISE Accelerate program: https://www.yourbrilliantcareer.com.au/rise-accelerate
My free guide - How to say 'no' without compromising your reputation: https://www.yourbrilliantcareer.com.au/how-to-say-no
Sans Drinks: https://sansdrinks.com.au/pages/irene-falcone
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Hello and welcome to another episode of Your Brilliant Career. It is great to have you here. Today I have the pleasure of introducing you to my friend, Irene Falcone – the most enthusiastic human being on the planet. Seriously!
And while she is a very talented businesswoman – you’re really going to get a good picture of that shortly - you can’t tell me that a can-do attitude and genuine enthusiasm don’t contribute to success too. Her energy is infectious. She’s honest, she’s funny and she has some fantastic stories to share. I think you’re going to love this conversation.
A little bit of background, not too much… So, Irene started her career in the media industry, like myself, and that’s how we know each other all those years back, and she had an impressive career in media. Following that, she built two incredible companies, one of which sold for $20 million. That’s right! And she only had that business for four years. Quite phenomenal.
Today she is the owner of a business called Sans Drinks, which sells non-alcoholic beverages. Remember the pandemic where we all drank too much? Well, Irene emerged in 2020 post the worst of the pandemic with this company. So she launched it in 2020. She too wanted to cut down… and in fact, was actually very concerned about her drinking and it was work-related, it wasn’t just purely pandemic. She really did hit that crisis moment, thinking I just want to stop drinking or reduce my drinking and this led her to explore her non-alcoholic drink options.
And bottom line is that she didn’t find much. She was frustrated with the low quality, the sugar-loaded non-alcoholic alternatives that were available in supermarkets and bottle shops, and that simple experience led Irene to channel that infectious enthusiasm to start this business – Sans Drinks.
So, if you’ve been flirting with the idea of cutting down your drinking or just curious about the good non-alcoholic brands - check out Sans Drinks.
There is plenty to explore with this woman. I want to share with you how she built these two businesses, her career prior to that, how she defines herself. She is full of surprises and there is a lot of interesting turns and twists in this conversation.
So get ready to be motivated, get ready to laugh a bit, and get ready to hear the extraordinary journey of a woman who sees opportunities and brings them to life with her infectious enthusiasm. I know you’ll be inspired. Let’s dive in.
Gillian: Irene, welcome to the podcast. It is such a pleasure to have you here.
Irene: And I am so excited to be here and talk with you through all these years.
Gillian: I know. Who would've thought, hey? 20 years on that we would be having this conversation from our wonderful days in the media industry, me in magazines, you, I think, working on the Revlon account. Such good memories.
Irene: I loved working on the Revlon account. And when I think about my career, I think about these pivotal moments and... Not to go off track but quick story, every single business decision I make, often comes back to a boardroom meeting that I might have had in the world of beauty magazines and Revlon.
Irene: For example, I remember sitting in these Revlon meetings and we were talking about Skinlights and we only need... You only need one product in a brand to be the icon in order for the whole brand to be successful. And we were in meetings talking about, "Okay, what's going to be the next skin light?" Because they were discontinuing Skinlights. And remember that brand, it was like the Maybelline of mascara. And so when I launched Nourished Life, I thought, "I just need the Skinlights. I just need one product." And now even with Sans Drinks, I just need... I still think now, "I just need the skin lights." And I'll say that to my team, and they won't have a bloody clue what I'm talking about. I'll be like, "We just need the Skinlights". And they're like, "What are you talking about?" And I even did a video on, oh, this is the Maybelline mascara in the non-alcohol world. Anyway, no one got it.
Gillian: They were such a nice client as well. I can always remember that, that Revlon was such a lovely group of people, such a nice culture. But let's talk about you because you are unbelievable. I mean, you are this founder of two very successful businesses. You have your own product range now. You are a tech and e-commerce guru. You're an ex-corporate girl, you're an ex-media girl, you're a mum, you're a wife. You are all these things, Irene.
Irene: And I'm omnichannel now too. I'm learning how to run a store in Westfield.
Gillian: Yes. Yes. And now you also have a bricks and mortar store in Westfield.
Irene: Add that to my list.
Gillian: I know. I'm so looking forward to going to see that, because it does look like a beautiful store. Beautiful. But you're all these things, but how do you describe you?
Irene: Oh, that's a great question. How do I describe me? I would describe myself as entrepreneurial.
Gillian: What do you think gives you that gift though? Where did you find that? Did you grow up with it? Or is it just something that you discovered? How did you know that that was your space?
Irene: I realised that I was entrepreneurial when I got out of media world because in when you work in media I was working at agencies and yes, I was running the Revlon account and some other accounts. And you can be a little bit... You have a little bit of leeway working media. It's kind of fun. You have a bit of fun with it. And that was fine. I treated each account like it was my own business. I was almost a consultant to those brands. But when I moved from agency in-house to Universal Pictures, I was working in-house, that was my real opportunity to really understand corporate, because media agencies aren't very corporate. In fact, we had a... I mean, come on, you remember we had a bar.
Gillian: I know. I so remember a bar.
Irene: We had a bar in our agency back in the days, and it was back in the nineties.
Gillian: It was fun.
Irene: People were smoking at their desks in the nineties actually in media. And so it was a bit fun. But when I worked in Universal Pictures, I actually worked in... It was owned by GE, so it was very corporate. And when I found myself in HR at least once a week, I realised I'm entrepreneurial. I wasn't allowed to do the things that I was doing. I wasn't allowed to do those deals on the side. I wasn't allowed to have those conversations that I was having with whatever I was doing at the time. And I can't even remember what they were, but I do remember being in trouble a lot for not following the corporate guidelines that I just did not even realise that there was at the time.
I mean, there was a lot of tears coming out of those HR meetings where I didn't understand why did I not fit in. And I was there for seven years, and I think in those seven years I realised that I was different to a lot of other cookie cutter people, and I was just a round peg in a square hole.
Gillian: But I remember listening, I think it was in an interview with you, and you were talking about getting that gig at Paramount and you did all this research. You researched independently about everything that was happening in the digital space so you could get that job. You really wanted that job.
Irene: That is so true. I have never studied so hard for anything in my life, and I learned so much about... So this was 2007, January 2007. Facebook had only just launched and I think MySpace was still around and we were only really understanding about the internet. I knew that it was the future. But it wasn't really something that the accounts that I'd worked on in agency really embraced that much. It's really interesting, I launched Yahoo actually into Australia and New Zealand when Yahoo launched. That was one of my accounts, and I knew how to launch them in terms of launching the brand Yahoo, but I didn't really know what Yahoo even did.
And at the time, I think it was powered by Google. That's how long ago we're talking now, and I just knew there was something there. I just learned everything I could. I remember studying everything I could about digital. And I was very lucky at the time because the person that hired me who was an incredible marketing director, really saw something in me and really wanted my expertise in the digital area. And I fell in love with online and I fell in love with social media. Through that job, I was the first person in Australia to ever advertise on Facebook. I remember calling the US and saying, I want to run an ad for a movie called Knocked Up and I was able to purchase a little matchbox-sized poster and put that on the site of Facebook.
Gillian: You couldn't even call to action. It was like a little branding ad that went up.
Irene: I don't think you could even click through at that point in time.
Gillian: That is amazing. But those digital skills that you acquired over the seven years, they must have helped for the next chapter of your life. Because I remember bumping heads with you, I don't know if you remember this, I think we were in Castlecrag, and you were telling me about this company that you had started and it all started in the garage, which I absolutely loved, and had stated that you had a hundred bucks-
Gillian: ... An idea and you also had this tech expertise. And the combination of those three things allowed you to get this incredible business off the ground. Tell us about those early days.
Irene: Okay, so again, I'm going back to those Universal Paramount days because we were allowed, this is one good thing about corporate, we were allowed to volunteer a day a month at a charity. And I picked a charity called the National Toxics Network, and they were a charity that were at the time campaigning to get BPA out of baby bottles and fracking and a whole bunch of environmental stuff. This is really before anyone cared about environmental things. And we were trying to get microbeads that were killing the fish out of beauty products. And there was all those sorts of things. And I'd had that Revlon experience. I was really interested in how to make... At doing all that. And so I really fell in love with that charity that I was working on. And as part of my learnings about movies and releasing movies and trying to market that through social media, I really did a big deep dive into Facebook and I was learning Facebook. And like I said, I had brought that ad on Facebook and I was starting to understand that there was a... It sounds crazy to talk about it now, but at that time, if you put something on social media and told one person, they would tell three friends and each of those three friends would tell three friends and it exploded.
And I just thought for the first time in my media career, you could launch a brand or a product or have a voice or a blog. At the time, I was just releasing... I was just launching a blog to learn more about social. I learned for the first time that you don't need a $20 million television budget to reach this amount of people.
Gillian: What an epiphany.
Irene: So I said, "All right, lets..." I started a blog and the blog was all about how to live toxin free in the city. And it was really a blog that was based on my journey from working with the National Toxics Network at the time. And I was doing that at the same time as working on films because I wasn't allowed to at the time. And I said to my husband at the time, "If I get a hundred followers, I'm going to set up a blog called Nourished Life: Living Toxin Free in the City, and if I can get a hundred followers on my page, then I'm going to maybe sell some lip balms or something".
Anyway, I got a hundred followers as soon as I launched. I just put the page up and I got a hundred followers. And then the US dollar was $1.10 for our dollar. And so these lip balms were 99 cents US, but they cost me 80 cents or whatever when you do the calculation, so I just ordered 100 of those, because I'd spoken about them on my blog which I'd posted to social at the time. You could go back and see all this still on Nourished Life.
Gillian: Amazing. I love this story though.
Irene: Yeah, scroll back to 2010 and you'll see, "Oh, I found these blogs... Here's a blog and here's these lip balms." And everyone was like, "Where do you buy them from?" And I thought, I'll just start a little thing. I just connected a PayPal thing to something at the time. Anyway. And I sold those balms and then I bought more, and then I sold more of those. And then ended up selling my car and I'd sold my house already at this point. Ah, this is what happened.
Gillian: This is just a little side hustle while you're still in media? You've got these things going on?
Irene: Yep. Then the craziest thing happened. So I'd started there in January 2007, by...
Gillian: You were at Paramount for seven years and then you started in 2007…
Irene: Yeah, so by 2010 or '11, it might have been 12... Anyway, don't quote me on the years, I got a call from A Current Affair about my blog.
Gillian: About the blog?
Irene: About the blog. And they wanted to do a story on a housewife with four kids that was working in corporate that started a blog about how to live toxin free in the city and still have a corporate job.
Gillian: Was that the moment that you thought, I've got something here.
Irene: Yes, it was. And I wasn't allowed to do the show because I'd worked... Because I couldn't do it, because I was a representative of film and I couldn't do A Current Affair and they were really concerned about the backlash we might get, because A Current Affair usually does bad stories, and we wanted to get Brad Pitt on A Current Affair and stuff like that. So we didn't want to have an employee there and stuff. So, I didn't do that story, but I did negotiate to do the morning show instead.
Gillian: Of course you did, Irene.
Irene: Of course I did. So I did the morning show instead. And it's really interesting because if you watched that segment on YouTube, they're asking me, and this is crazy, "So Irene, so you are a mum of four that decided that they would throw away all of their toxic products in their house and I don't understand, and swap them with natural products? Talk us about this natural product thing, because it's a very small niche we've never seen. Where would you buy a product like this?" It was so out of the realm of mainstream.
Gillian: Wow. Only ten years ago.
Irene: And you couldn't believe it. It was actually now looking back, I think it was by the 2013 that I was on TV, and if you look at Google and you look at the search volume for organic skincare, because organic skincare was unheard of back then, the search volume for organic skincare skyrocketed on the 13th of May 2013, which was the day that I was on TV, and it never went down. And that is when I quit my job straight after that, I said, "I'm going to do this full-time". And then that is when I really went full-time on Nourished Life. That's when I sold my car and my house. I'd already had the lip balms, but I turned the side hustle into a full-blown... Stocking as many organic and natural products as I could in my garage. And that's the story. That's how it happened.
Gillian: So you sold your house and car to get the money to invest in this business from the outset?
Irene: Well, I sold the car and the house to get out of a mortgage, so I didn't have to work anymore in corporate to pay a mortgage.
Gillian: I see.
Irene: So yeah. And then I had enough money to pay rent for a year. And I couldn't get a loan. I couldn't get a loan for the product, so I got a credit card. The CommBank gave me a loan... Wouldn't believe it. CommBank wouldn't give me a loan to buy product, but they gave me a $20,000 loan to say I wanted to go on a holiday, to do a holiday.
Gillian: Oh my goodness.
Irene: Took out a holiday loan back in the day, and then I used that and didn't go on the holiday. I used that to buy the stock, and of course, I paid them back and whatever. But yeah, so that's really the story, and that's really how Nourished Life started.
Gillian: Yeah, how extraordinary. And the part that will blow the listener's mind is that you sold that business for $20 million to an ASX company.
Irene: After four years.
Gillian: Only four years.
Irene: Yeah. So that first site hustle, I did half a million. And then that year I took off, I went to 2 million. And then I went from 2 million to four, and then four to eight, and then eight to 20 within four years. I was the fastest-growing company actually in Australia during those years, during that time.
Published, if you look at the whatever, the BRW list at the time, yeah it was amazing, but it was so easy to do. I literally put $1 on Facebook and I made $15 back, and it didn't matter what I put on Facebook or what I said, I put $1 and I turned that into $15. And I thought, this is a license to print money. Imagine if I put...
I remember thinking, I want to buy a house, how am I going to buy a house? How am I going to get a deposit for a house? And I thought, all right, let's work this backwards. I needed 400 grand for a deposit for a house. So I thought, all right, okay, so to get back 400... And order for 400 divided by 15, okay, so I need to... Let's just put $1,000 on Facebook and let's see if I can convert it to $15,000. And that's what I did. And then I just... Literally, it was that easy.
Gillian: That is unbelievable. That is just the most phenomenal story. But you must have had to have worked really hard, Irene. It couldn't have just been that cruisy. You must have been innovating and stretching and feeling like you’re taking risks.
Irene: I worked my arse off.
Gillian: Yeah, there you go.
Irene: But I mean, if I talk about that versus, without dropping ahead, how hard I work now in this business and how hard I worked before Nourished Life, I was extraordinarily lucky that I knew about social media. That I was able to launch a business at the absolute pinnacle of when social media had taken off. And I remember being at Facebook's offices and I remember them saying, "L'Oreal wants to meet you, because they want to understand how you connect so well with your audiences through Nourished Life and how corporates like L'Oreal and the Revlon's of the world, how they can connect with people." Because then at that time, so many people were moving away from the corporate faceless company to the...
There was no influencers then, but it was really about business owners talking about their own business. And it was a lot like TikTok is now. It was raw and people fell in love with people and businesses, and they wanted to support them.
So I bought the house in cash with the money I'd made from the Facebook, this is before I sold the company, and I remember taking my child to school and I remember the people coming up to me on the first day saying, "I recognise you from Facebook. You’re Irene from Nourished Life." And I was like, "Yeah." And they said, "I bought that badger balm and it helped put my child to sleep, and I bought that lip balm you talked about, and I bought that black chicken deodorant you talk about".
And they'd opened their bags and they'd show me what they bought. And it was, "Oh my goodness me". Nourished Life was the most incredible business. I don't think anyone had created a business like that. Anything like that and turned it from zero to 20 million on their own in four years and then sold it.
Gillian: Irene, every time I think of you and I see you on LinkedIn and that sort stuff, and whenever we bump heads I always feel, and I know this is going to sound funny, but I always feel so proud of you.
Irene: Thank you.
Gillian: As an ex-colleague and peer. You've just done so well and you're just beginning. You are just beginning. So, let's talk about this next part of your journey, because it is fascinating. Because you stepped out of that business, which I imagine was hard. Was it hard to let go of that business?
Irene: It was really hard because the company that bought it didn't do what they were going to do. I'd sold the company to an ASX exclusive business, and I'd sold it to two people in that company that I really liked, that really believed in Nourished Life and really wanted to take it to the next level. And they were great, but unfortunately for me that they did a fail... This is all public information, but they did a failed management buyout a couple of months after they bought me. So they were going to buy it out, take it private, and that didn't happen.
And then I got lumped with a bunch of people that didn't appreciate me or my business. And I don't think any orders... I don't know if anyone got an order in the last six years. It was pretty devastating for me. I was so upset about the complaints and the reviews that I had to leave because I actually couldn't hack it anymore. And I ended up becoming, I don't want to say an alcoholic, but I ended up self-medicating with alcohol to cope with the devastating loss of that business and my customers. My customers that I cared about more than anything.
Gillian: Well, I imagine it would be very difficult. I found it very interesting the statement that you made, because you're not a person who has regrets, but you said you regretted your decision to sell because at the time you thought you needed a couple of strong men and a big corporate to take your business from 20 to 100 million.
Irene: Yeah, that's exactly right.
Gillian: So how do you think about yourself differently today then?
Irene: Well, I started Sans Drinks because I think that I just so desperately wanted to have that connection with people, with women particularly, back. I love helping women on their health journey. So many successful businesses or business people want to help other people. And whilst I'm not out there to change, to necessarily help everyone do everything, the concept of helping people change one part of their wellness journey and doing that really well, fills my cup. And it filled my cup and my cup was empty when I sold it. And so I started Sans Drinks in the pandemic, off the back of drinking a bottle... Probably a bottle of vodka a week in the shower, crying over Nourished Life. And I said, "I was just going to do it".
Irene: And then I just started again. I remember just running these ads for non-alcoholic wine, because it's very similar to Nourished Life. It's just another step in your wellness journey. You take the toxins out of your body and what you eat and you take it out of your wine as well and your drinks. And I ran an ad back... I went, "Oh, this is funny". I went, "Oh, I know how to do this, this old trick. I'll chuck $1 on Facebook and I'll turn it into $15, and then I'll just make another $20 million business again. Easy-peasy".
Interestingly enough, it was that easy because we were in a pandemic and a lot of people were on social. And I just ran it out on social with a photo of my face and say, "Hey guys, I'm back. I've got this new business now". And I targeted people who love natural beauty products because I knew they would recognise me when they saw my ad. Of course, I had no access to my original database in any way, but I was still able to target them. This is before the Apple privacy thing, so I was able to reach people. And I was able to grow a really big following and a really big audience really quickly. And I could say in the first year of Sans Drinks, I was doing ROIs of 12 to one again on Facebook, purely on Facebook. And that's how I built this business again so quickly. I got the old band back together!
Gillian: So Sans Drinks, just so everyone knows, is alcohol-free and you have quite an extensive range now that goes from wines to all sorts of cocktail drinks and everything, don't you? And you have a beautiful shop in Warringah Mall with it. Aside from your own experience of drinking too much, and I mean we were inundated with news from the media as well during the pandemic that everyone was drinking a bit too much, was that the catalyst for you to target this as a business? Because there's lots of avenues you could have gone down the wellness route.
Irene: Yeah, it was an avenue that hadn't been done. And I'm very much about disrupting, and I wanted to disrupt the liquor industry. And I actually, interestingly enough, I set out to really disrupt Dan Murphy's. I thought Dan Murphy sells alcohol, I went there to buy some non-alc, they didn't really have any because I was drinking too much during the pandemic, and they were the only thing that was open, or bottle shops were open. And there wasn't any, and I thought this is a really great opportunity and to disrupt that market. And I actually set out to get people to stop drinking alcohol and to buy non-alcoholic alternatives. Yeah, so I've got a non-alcoholic alternative to every mainstream drink that you can imagine. That was the strategy at the time.
Gillian: And why do people come to you? Is it for health? Is it weight loss? Is it because we are more educated about the impacts of alcohol today? What's normally the driver for your customers?
Irene: My customers drink alcohol. They love drinking. And they're women, predominantly 40 plus women, unless they are younger and they're pregnant, who love a glass of wine or a glass of champagne or a gin and tonic. We know as women, because we're smart, that in order for us to continue on our long and winding health journey, that we need to have balance. Balance in our lives.
And when things are tipped too far one way, we are very good as women to bring it back a little bit. And so my customers opt to drink my drinks, usually predominantly Monday to Thursday and Sundays, and then they'll drink their alcoholic drinks on a Friday and Saturday night and that's about balance as well. So, it's not about going cold turkey at all. It's about... Or having a break for a month or two for whatever reason. It's about being able to continue to have our routines and enjoy a drink with friends, but not consume the alcohol. And we know that's not good for us for so many reasons. And so that's really the concept and the target audience and what I had set out to do.
Gillian: So I've been following a lot of people who advocate for not drinking. And there's one guy that I follow, his name is James Swanwick, really interesting bloke, and he predicts that in 20 years’ time drinking alcohol will not be the norm. So if we think back to 20 years ago, particularly the media industry, Irene, everyone was smoking and drinking, but particularly smoking. There was a lot of people smoking. And now, I can't even think of a friend that smokes. It's that rare.
Irene: Alcohol is 100% the cigarettes era of the sixties. Absolutely. And there's lots of discussion about there being a picture on a label, on wine labels now, like the cigarette packets. Yes.
Gillian: What do you think your superpower is? You've built up two fabulous businesses, and don't tell me hard work, what do you think it is?
Irene: No. No. No, hard work is not my superpower at all. I'm terrible at that. No. No, my superpower is the... I actually know what my superpower is, because I've thought about it a lot and I'm not great at a lot of things, but I'm great at one thing. And I know this is a bit of a... I know what women want.
Irene: I know what women want and I'm able to either find, source or create if it's not there, exactly what women... Because I'm female, right? I know what women want because I'm one of them. I know what we want to enrich our lives and to help us on certain areas of our wellness journey. And I just know, and I know what product to put in women's hands. I mean, I'm not so great with the non-alc beers and the men and all that. That's a bit touch and go with a bit of guesswork, but I know exactly what women want to drink and what they want to put in their body and their skin and what they're looking for. And I just give them that. And it's just as simple as that.
Gillian: Yeah, I love it. I love it. And you can see that you're good at it. And the media training would've honed that skill for you too, because you're always thinking about, how do I connect with the customer? What do they want? How are they thinking?
Irene: All that Roy Morgan research.
Gillian: Yeah, all of that stuff.
Irene: All of the reports I've read.
Gillian: Oh my goodness, that's too many memories. And Irene, do you know what's next for you?
Irene: Well, for me, what's next is... It's an interesting time because with Nourished Life, it took a very long time for the mainstream supermarkets and the Chemist Warehouses and the Pricelines of the world to catch onto natural beauty products. It took them a really long time. It probably took them a decade, I'd say, and they don't do it great, to catch on.
And you can go into a Chemist Warehouse now and quite easily find a skincare product without parabens in it now. It's pretty easy. What's interesting with this business is you've got the supermarkets and the Dan Murphy's and whatever of the world that all of a sudden, very quickly, very, very quickly caught on to the non-alcoholic drinks category and phase, and were able to work very quickly to try and sort of scramble to quickly stock their shelves as well with non-alc, so it's been really interesting.
So I had to be quite a lot more clever, in that with Nourished Life I didn't really need to make my own products that much, because there was so many great products out there that you couldn't get anywhere else. With Sans Drinks, the future, my future, is definitely differentiating myself. Because I originally set out to give people an alternative to Dan Murphy's, but then Dan Murphy's is like, "Oh, we don't want to... Well, no. No, hang on a second. No, no, no. We'll just stock the... No, no, no, we don't sell alcohol. No, no, no, we're not out..."
They even set up a store in Melbourne. I think it’s gone out of business now called Dan Murphy Zero. Like all of a sudden, "Well, no, no, we're a zero. No, no, we're zero". So I think the trick is to continue to create and work with exclusive brands more like the MECCA model in that you can't get what I sell in other stores. And what I sell is leaps and bounds better than the mainstream, I want to call it mainstream, grape juicy flavour.
For me it's about developing more and more of my product. And of course, I don't wholesale my product, so I sell it directly to my consumer for wholesale prices as well. So, they get a really good product, for a really good price, that they're really going to love, that they can't get anywhere else. And I think that's going to be the thing that sustains Sans Drinks and the Sans Drinks own brand against the juggernaut of Endeavor and Coles.
Gillian: Yeah. Well, we are so, so thrilled for your success and so proud of you too, Irene. What advice would you give to women? You've had this incredible career and you've been, in my view, very brave and very action orientated all the way through, but what would you say to other women to encourage them to have a good career, may not be your entrepreneurial path, but just to have a good career?
Irene: I think the most important thing is work-life balance. And I think if you work in corporate, I talked a lot about entrepreneurship and being anti-corporate, but at the end of the day working in corporate is actually amazing and so much easier than doing it on your own. It's so much easier. You've got someone else to pay those invoices and you've got a cheque from the company every week. So, for those women...
Gillian: You even get holidays.
Irene: You get a holiday. You can salary sacrifice your car. There's so many amazing... And you can have free training programs. I am actually a big advocate for the corporate world, even though I'm not corporately minded. We're so lucky as women now. We've got equal... We can get equal pay. We've got support. I mean, back in media, back in the media day it was rife. There was no support for women. There is now. So I think that if you are a female in corporate, you've got everything going for you and nothing against you. I think it's brilliant. And keep on top of your training, but work-life balance is important. You can have that.
For women who are entrepreneurial that want to jump into running their own business... It's got to be the side hustle until you ready to replace your income. Don't do what I do. Don't do what I did. What I did was risky as all heck. And I mean, I even now, not regret, but I even questioned, why did I start Sans Drinks? I had $20 million. Why didn't I just buy a yacht and just sail around? Why did I do this? Right?
Gillian: It's a fair question, Irene.
Irene: I was like, why? Yeah. Why did I do this? Because it's a hard slog and it's very hard to get work-life balance. And I don't remember my daughter... I remember dropping off... I remember dropping off my daughter to school when she was in Grade three or something. And I remember her saying to the teacher, "My mum's going to be a millionaire one day. She's got this great skincare business".
Gillian: Bless. Talk about belief.
Irene: I know, right? I thought that was amazing, but the reality is she's doing her HSC now and I don't recall anything between those two, between that in the last six years except for she-
Gillian: Because you were so head down.
Irene: Yeah. Except for the stress of running a business. And so I'm actually a big advocate in the corporate job because it's just so much easier.
Gillian: Yeah. Yeah. No, there are sacrifices, there's no doubt about that. But look, you have achieved some great things and I think you've contributed a lot to women across the board, Irene, and you're such a gorgeous person. You've always been a gorgeous person, even from our early days working together and we were very, very young back then, possibly as young as 25 when we first started working together, but you still are gorgeous. And it's been wonderful having this conversation with you today. So thank you so very much.
Irene: Oh, thank you so much for having me.