Mary Centofanti, Director of Australian hair care company Davroe, is committed to delivering premium quality hair care products. Davroe products are 100% Australian, but the company has global ambitions.
Mary Centofanti began her career in 1984 as a receptionist with Dresslier, the predecessor to Davroe. Twenty-three years later, in 2007, Dresslier was struggling. Mary and her husband, John, acquired the business. Armed with a strong vision, they embarked on a decade long journey of building what in now one of Australia’s leading hair care manufacturers.
Upon acquisition of Dresslier, Mary decided to reformulate the entire Davroe salon professional range, which was then seen as a bold move, and even somewhat risky. She was nonetheless proved right. Davroe was the first professional hair care range to be sulphate, paraben and petrochemical free, completely cruelty-free, 100% vegan, and to use pure Australian native extract.
We asked Mary about her decision to revamp Davroe into a vegan hair care company and her ambitions to grow the company internationally.
Grit Daily: My wife and I are vegan. When we were on our first date I took her to the bar of a wonderful old hotel, which is when she said “I hope they have vegan wine.” I was startled that there is such a thing as vegan wine. What makes a hair care product vegan?
A hair care product is Vegan if it is free from any animal products or by-products. It was an easy choice for us to make that leap 14 years ago, as we had always been Cruelty-Free and have never tested on animals.
Grit Daily: Forgive me for stereotyping, but Australia doesn’t strike me as a particularly vegan oriented society. Am I wrong?
Mary Centofanti: Not necessarily, however, we could say that about all countries. We all have our traditional foods and cultures, but I think Australia’s vegan population is rapidly growing, and as a result, so are the many Vegan options available for consumers. It’s not hard to find vegan options when eating out, and while many cosmetic companies are still getting there, we are proud to have been one of the first companies offering Australians a vegan, cruelty-free, salon professional quality hair care range.
Grit Daily: Does “vegan” have the branding cache that “organic” has had for many years now?
Mary Centofanti: I don’t think so. The term “organic” has such a broad meaning and connotation, in fact there are many different interpretations of what “organic” means, such as low irritant, good for the environment, or sustainable, when that’s not necessarily true. Vegan is what it is, and people can understand in simple terms exactly what that means.
Grit Daily: What motivated you to launch Davroe as a vegan brand?
Mary Centofanti: A number of things. Firstly, there are so many natural and plant based ingredients these days, that we really don’t need to use ingredients derived from animals. Secondly, making Davroe a vegan brand gives people the choice to use a vegan product, whether they’re vegan or not, without having to compromise on quality or performance. Davroe is not just a brand for vegans, it’s a vegan brand for everyone.
Grit Daily: Labeling your products vegan likely means people expect the products and packaging to be thoroughly eco-friendly and sustainable. Are they?
Mary Centofanti: All our packaging is recyclable, and we are always in conversation with our suppliers about the next best thing for packaging. Ultimately we are striving for packaging that can completely “break down” over a period of time, without altering the shelf life of the product. This, unfortunately, might take a little while.
Grit Daily: There has been a lot of discussion in recent years about “clean” beauty. What does the term “clean” mean in that context, and how are Davroe’s products clean?
Mary Centofanti: Clean beauty is definitely the next “buzz” and it means so many different things to each brand. There is no set authority or list of what is deemed to be “clean”. This is a bit of a problem because the idea of clean beauty is great, but I feel that it can lose its meaning if brands don’t clearly set out what they deem clean or not. For Davroe, it means we chose to formulate without sulphates, parabens, mineral oil, phthalates, ensure our products are mild, and low-irritant.
Grit Daily: Davroe seems to be a proudly Australian company, but tell us about your expansion into international markets, including the US.
Mary Centofanti: Yes, we are very proud to be Australian made and owned. Our company is Australia’s oldest manufacturer of salon professional hair care, since 1930 in fact! Over the past two years we’ve had an influx of requests for Davroe in different countries across Europe and the throughout the US. Davroe products are currently stocked in 12 countries in Europe and the UK, as well as the US. We have been so lucky to have such demand for our products internationally. We believe our heritage is a big part of this. Overseas there has been a big shift to natural-based, clean cosmetics, and Australia is often perceived (rightly so) as green, clean and pristine. For example, our manufacturing plant is based in the foothills of the famous Adelaide Hills, and we use Australian Native extracts in all of our products.