Davroe Director, Mary Centofanti – Business Women of SA
Beginning her career as a receptionist at the tender age of 15, Mary Centofanti is now the Director & Financial Officer of Dresslier & Co Australia (manufacturers of Davroe Haircare). Throughout her tenure at Dresslier, Mary has progressed through several different positions throughout the company which she now owns with her husband John. Together they reformulated the Davroe range to make it sulphate, paraben and petrochemical free, as well as vegan and plant-based. They are the first Australian salon professional brand to do so. It’s this type of ingenuity and passion that has allowed Davroe to rise through the ranks to one of Australia’s favourite haircare brands.
The Boss Behind the Massive Haircare Brand Davroe
We sat down with Mary to hear more about her achievements, daily routine and pearls of wisdom.
How do you typically start your workday?
I’m up at 6am if I’m heading to the gym (we have a small gym set up in our garage). I like to do a 30-minute walk on the treadmill followed by a light weight session on alternate days. Once I’m done, I head back in to shower (I wash my hair every second day) and have breakfast with the family. We have a 16-year-old son who is in year 11 and while he is more than capable of getting his lunch ready, it’s still something I like to do when I’m home. Then I get myself ready for work.
What’s your coffee order?
Macchiato short or long depends on the mood and time of day.
Tell us a little about what a typical workday entails
I arrive at work anywhere between 8.30-9am, if I have meetings off-site then I get into work later. I check my emails and respond accordingly. I look at a snapshot/dashboard of where the company is sitting on a daily basis; sales, debtors, creditors etc. We are working on some exciting new things at HQ at the moment so that does take up a good portion of the day, as well as working on export and overseas markets, so I’m not as structured in my position.
How did you get started in your career?
I completely fell into this profession. I was asked if I wanted to interview for a receptionist position with a company called Dresslier, at the time I was in term 1 of year 11 and 15 years of age. I was offered the job, so decided to leave school. Although I am a massive advocate of school and a good education, they were different times 35 years ago. I loved my job and the company from the get-go and although tried to leave after having my second child I found myself back there due to the passing of my then boss. The opportunity arose for John and me to take over, what was a struggling company at the time.
What’s your favourite or the most rewarding thing about your job?
I don’t have just one favourite thing, there are many things I find rewarding. Being able to turn the company around was a big moment for us. When we took over it was struggling, and we had to evaluate before taking over, whether it would be better to close it down. However, Dresslier was started in 1930 and we could see so much potential, that’s one. Employing people and watching them and their passion for the brand grow is an amazing feeling. Being able to still manufacture in our home state of SA and send Davroe product all around Australia, NZ and export to the US and shortly into Europe is just phenomenal. I find coming to work rewarding, I don’t think I could ever not be here.
Do you have a favourite Davroe product?
Oh, I have many! But my absolute favourite is Ends Repair Leave-In Treatment, it’s an amazing product. It can be applied to wet hair, but I use it on dry hair and it smooths my hair leaving it soft and silky. It’s light on the hair so it won’t drag the hair down and doesn’t build up.
Is there a particular project or achievement that you’re especially proud of?
I guess there are quite a few now. From our first shipment to the US and Europe to sponsoring Fashion Palette in New York during NYFW. But being the first salon brand in Australia to be sulphate, paraben, petrochemical free and vegan 12 years ago is pretty cool and something I am extremely proud of.
What do you think the most common misconceptions about your job is?
That all the travel is glamorous! In the beginning, it was all very exciting and don’t get me wrong, it’s great and being able to travel to different parts of the world has been and is still wonderful. But it’s also very tiring and too much time spent at airports.
What would surprise people the most?
That I’m still very hands-on with day to day tasks and the financial side of the company.
At the end of the day, what time do you typically get home from work?
Anywhere from 5 to 5.30pm, I’m fortunate that our head office is 5 minutes from home.
How do you like to wind down?
Going home, cooking dinner and sitting eating dinner with John and the kids is the best way for me to wind down. It gives us an opportunity to talk about our days. It’s important to me that we sit and have dinner together as much as possible. Our son has soccer training 3 times a week and our daughter works on Thursday nights and has uni, so spending as much quality time together as possible is paramount. We sponsor the Campbelltown City Soccer Club and support The Power, so we try and get to as many of their games as possible, this is a good way to get out and get into some fresh air.
Do you work when you’re at home? Or keep home a work-free zone?
We try and keep home a work-free zone, this has always been important to me. In the beginning, when John and I took over the company, we would always talk about work at home. Until one day, our 8-year-old daughter asked if we could stop talking about this bloody company! She is now 18 and we stopped talking about work shortly after that incident.
How do you achieve work-life balance?
In the beginning, this was hard, but I have made work-life the priority. John and I work together, have lunch together and raise the family together, so we need to have the separation between work and home. We have a large extended family and we both are very fortunate to have both our parents, so it’s important to make time for them. We also have a great group of friends that we love catching up with. I also sit on the Campbelltown Soccer Club board which I enjoy. You just have to make it work otherwise there is no balance.
Are you an early bird or a night owl?
Always a night owl, although that is getting a bit harder as I get older.
How many hours do you usually sleep per night?
Never enough! I’m averaging about 5-6 hours at the moment.
What advice can you give to someone wanting to get into your profession?
I’m not sure that anyone chooses to want to work in an office necessarily, which is what I was employed for in the early days. Would I have still been around if the company I worked for was in another industry? Maybe, maybe not. I guess as an overall, I feel it’s important to love what you do or love the industry you are in. So, jump right in and try and achieve this, you may not be able to get into your desired position or industry immediately. You will need to work hard. Perseverance, passion and belief are so important to get to your end goal.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever been given?
Work hard and believe in yourself.
How do you define success?
To me, it’s about good health, happiness and being in a good place where you are comfortable with what you are doing and the choices you are making.
Thank you so much to Mary for sharing her time and expertise with us. If you wanted to hear from more amazing businesswomen of South Australia, jump over here.
Do you know an amazing SA woman we should feature? Let us know in the comments below or share with The Jane Community on our Facebook Group Ask My Friend Jane.