The Eco Tan & Eco By Sonya Story
From a backyard tin shed to a global empire: How one Aussie Mum is using her success to change lives.
In 2010, I thought I had my identity down pat. I was a wife, a mother and I had travelled the world as an International Flight Attendant, so I accepted a redundancy when it was offered as I felt I was in the right place and phase of my life.
But my world turned upside down when my marriage abruptly ended. I was suddenly a solo parent, unemployed and living in a run-down tiny house. To add to a shitty situation, my gentle-spirited sister was diagnosed with a melanoma. In an attempt to lift her faith and be a strong, positive influence over my fragile sister, I crawled into a new life.
I really struggled with my identity and the collapse of my family unit as I saw it. I couldn’t eat or sleep and looking back a dark despair fell heavily upon me. I knew I had to shake it off. I got up from the ground and spent two weeks volunteering in East Timor, where I fed hungry children and comforted the sick and shampooed the hair of women who had never before had their hair washed.
After two weeks living in that village with beautiful people, a shift happened.
I returned to the Gold Coast determined to make a positive change and support my sister, whose cancerous growth had been cut from her arm, leaving a horrible scar. My sister and I loved getting regular spray tans together but we were concerned about the ingredients we were constantly covering ourselves with. That’s when I began to research the ingredients used by many different brands, regardless of their claims. It only took me a few minutes to decide not to use their products anymore. After all, our skin is our largest organ and much of what we put on it is absorbed into our bloodstream.
I started buying in samples of cacao, flower essence, chamomile and all things natural and organic and started mixing batches out of my kitchen. Word of mouth grew and I started contacting health retreats, spas, any holistic business that might have been interested in my organic tans.
In 2011, Eco Tan made Australian history by becoming the first and only tanning BRAND to be certified organic by the Organic Food Chain under the Australian government. This was ground breaking and my love for organic formulations has never waived or been compromised. As our customers saw the ethos behind our company and brand, the demand for our skincare grew. Most people think they’re using a great skincare range and become mesmerised by the marketing and packaging without actually reading ingredients. Many skincare brands first ingredient is actually just water.
To date, we’ve won close to 50 awards for our skincare in such a small amount of time.
One thing that a lot of people don’t know is that our core foundation and cry from our heart, is to lift others up. We have always done this, just never made it public. If it's bringing homeless people to have showers at our work, or finding them housing, or flying to Romania to rescue a Mum and her six kids who were experiencing domestic violence, or producing products to finance a safe farm in Kenya for sexually abused children.
Before we make a product we ask the question, how can we do good? We’ve just launched our not for profit foundation, The Miracle Made Foundation. This will be a grass roots charity which is purpose driven, creating jobs and opportunities for people wherever the need is worldwide or where it's assisting someone in the community with housing or health issues. Wherever there is need, we have the means to help.