Founder / Director at LeQure Detox
Game-changers are born. They move through life with a brutal fierceness, an unwavering desire to succeed and an envious ability to follow their gut instincts, because YOLO!
As the creator of the world’s first fulvic acid, trace mineral, bath detox bomb, it’s no wonder that Tara Hanaphy is considered a ‘game-changer’. The Australian-born beauty paved her own path through eclectic beginnings as a self-confessed tomboy at high school, with regular visits to Asia each year to visit her father who worked overseas.
Within a matter of years and two university stints later Tara became an international modelling success, and the founder of her revolutionary health and wellness brand LeQure Detox – and the rest is history… Ha! As if…. this wouldn’t be an honest #careerstory without getting a little bit dirty now would it?
In today’s interview we take a peek inside to epic career trajectory of one of the most refreshing #girlbosses ever to be featured on The Cool Career. Her gut-wrenching honesty to tell all, is what sets her apart from the rest. Tara is a young entrepreneur with a clean, fresh, and thoroughly inspirational story, so inspirational in fact that we couldn’t wait until next week to tell it.
If you are reading this right now, not knowing what direction to take after high school, or if you are confused on how to distil all of your interests into one pint-sized ‘job’, then this is the interview for you.
Please meet the epic Tara Hanaphy…
Hey Tara, Ahhhh I am so excited to have you here! Can you start by telling me about where you grew up and how your experience shaped the person you are and the career that you are in today?
I was born in Melbourne and from as early as I can remember I was a nomad soul. My father has always worked overseas, so from the time I was little we were constantly travelling to see him or we lived with him wherever he was at the time. I spent a few years going to an international school in Singapore and then relocated back to Melbourne and my brother, mum and I visited my dad in Asia at least 4 times a year. Growing up in a non-conventional family and being blessed with being well travelled from a very young age, it definitely opened up my eyes. I believe travel is one of the most educational things anyone can experience. It taught me great independence (from a young age I was travelling over to visit my dad in Asia alone), strength, gratitude and adaptability to change. This lifestyle early on definitely shaped the person I am today; it opening my eyes to the idea that the world is a lot smaller than you think and gave me the confidence and independence to move overseas which eventually was the catalyst for me to start my business!
What an upbringing. Hearing this really cements my in how you turned into a jet-setting entrepreneur. Where did you go to High School and how was that experience for you?
I went to Westbourne Grammar School in Melbourne’s western suburbs, it was a co-ed school which I suited me from a young age as I was always a little bit of a tomboy. Unlike most people, I actually really loved school. I had a great bunch of friends, we were all respectful of each other and even over school holidays, I couldn’t wait to get back there. I always enjoyed learning, socializing and being creative but I really hated being told what to do so this was often a point of conflict for me. For as long as I can remember I was always a leader, I wanted to walk my own path through life. My best subject was health, but I was always a jack-of-all-trades; decent at everything but never the best at one thing – so my future career path was frustratingly never really that obvious to me.
So many of our interviewees were self-confessed tomboys and jack of all trades. So let’s dive into your time at high school, do you think your experience played an important role in helping you choose your further education and future career?
Being sent to a private school and with my family sacrificing things to send me there, I appreciated my education and did try my best to succeed to be able to go to university to do my family proud. I would say my family played more of a role that the school itself. I had my moments where I had a bit of attitude to teachers, but apart from that I was always a pretty good student. I had good grades, was on all the sports teams and was friendly with most of the kids in my year level. I was in accelerant classes for mathematics so I was constantly challenged throughout school. The careers counsellor and tutors always encouraged us to think about our future when selecting subjects, which at the time really frustrated me. I had no idea what I wanted to do and envied the people that did have a clear future for themselves in their head. I set out to get into Media and Communications but missed out by .5 on my enter score. At the time I was devastated and thought it was the end of the world, but in hindsight, it is so insignificant! I got into my second preference which was a double degree in Arts / Health Science at La Trobe University, which turned out to be a much more suited path for me anyway. Everything happens for a reason!
Couldn’t agree more Tara. At school did you complete any internships or work experience placements in high school? Tell us about that experience.
No, unfortunately, I did not do anything like that during school. Due to circumstances with my dad living overseas, we would travel every holiday to visit him so it was difficult to be able to ever do internships over holidays. My first job was not until I was 17 and in Year 12 where I worked at a photography studio. I was always hard working and determined so excelled as soon as I did have a job and managed to be promoted and trained as one of the few qualified photographers at the studio within 12 months in the job. At the time I just saw it as a job for money to allow me to save money and travel on my own, but now in hindsight I can see how every job and experience gained throughout my life thus far has shaped me to who I am today and has given me so many tools to be able to run my own business.
Did you go to College, University, Tafe or another equivalent? Take us through the courses that you studied and why you chose them?
I did! I went to La Trobe University studying the double degree in Arts / Health Science where it allowed me to dabble in so many different areas and subjects which was really great to allow me to further discover what I liked and excelled at. I was great at everything health related, it was my passion, so I found the health subjects a breeze as it all came very naturally to me. After 3 years studying in the degree I was lost with what I was going to be able to do as a career after studying such a “non-vocational degree”. So I transferred in to Psychology at Deakin University and finished my Bachelors Degree there. Psychology was interesting, but I knew as soon as I started the course that a career in that field was not for me. It hit me like a tonne of bricks within the first few semesters during a practical class. We had to do a case study on a woman who was suffering trauma from loosing her two children. Everyone else in the class was sitting around, listening objectively. I was too much of a sensitive soul and was having to try very hard, to not allow anyone else in the class to see that I was actually uncontrollably crying for this poor woman. I came to the conclusion that feeling things so deeply is definitely not a curse and I didn’t want to shut myself off from that emotion and empathy for others so decided to not pursue a job in the field. After 5 years studying to complete my undergraduate I thought it would be best to expand my knowledge in something that my psychology and health background would come handy in, so I started my Masters Degree in Marketing. I didn’t get very far through it before I decided it was a much more fun idea to chase my boyfriend at the time (now “Fiancée”, so it paid off) to Los Angeles and live there with him instead…. “YOLO”.
Haha, what a great story Tara, and what a great insight into your train of thought at the time. So lets go to your career journey so far. Who have you worked for? What was it like?
Well, after my stint as a photographer I moved across to working as an Executive Assistant to the Manager at the Parkroyal Hotel in Melbourne. I soon realized how much I hated working in a traditional office and the restraint I felt in such a workplace. Not long after, I was scouted and offered a modelling contract by one of the major Australian modelling agencies. It was never what I saw myself doing but I was never one to say no to an opportunity given to me, so I thought I would give it a shot. From then on, at the age of 20, working in the modelling industry presented me with the opportunity and luxury of working for myself and I experienced how much freedom that allowed me. I would pick up whatever jobs I could during the week and even did a few semesters off campus, which allowed me the flexibility to work nearly full time all week, earn great money and study when I didn’t have work on. I was always hustling; I was constantly networking and connecting with as many people as I could from all walks of life. It allowed me to flourish working for myself as half the time it is always “who” you know, not necessarily “what”. I also did 18 months working part-time as a Business Development Manager at an agency, which allowed me to see inside and learn how a small business works. I have always prioritized work and had an impeccable work ethic and I do pride myself on that. I think in all these years I have called in sick to a job once, and it was seriously because I was on my deathbed with food poisoning!
Then when I moved to Los Angeles in 2014, things changed. I was thrown out of my lovely comfort zone in Australia and had to start from scratch. I didn’t realize how easy we have it here until I left! I had n0 contacts, n0 knowledge on this new city and I really felt like a small fish in a very big, plastic, pond. I moved across to LA with the intention of continuing my modelling career, but within the first few months of being there my health started to deteriorate. I was put on some nasty medication that made me gain weight like crazy, so I had to step aside from the modelling world to put my health and wellbeing first. To keep me going during this period I worked at a funky “bar” in LA that didn’t serve alcohol, instead it served cold pressed juices, health shots and tonics. It was right up my alley. I am a health nut so I loved talking with all the like-minded customers or with the people who weren’t quite as aware and needed some expertise on what would benefit them. I enjoyed helping people. My health was still struggling and I was getting a nasty allergic reaction from cleaning chemicals at the bar I was working at, so every shift I would come home in a rash/hives and feel constantly terrible. It was the hardest time of my life, I was working for terrible American wages ($7 p/h is the standard! Girls, you are earning more at your McDonald’s job than most middle class Americans are earning!), lost my confidence, was not feeling well and was getting allergic reactions every time I was going to work…. But, I wouldn’t have it any other way. If it all didn’t happen and I didn’t go through that, I wouldn’t be where I am today. It opened my eyes to how much the environment, your behaviours and thoughts can impact your physical and mental health. I had always taken my health, Australia’s clean water, beautiful clean produce and fresh air for granted. So many chemicals and pollutants are also banned in Australia but not in the USA so I was exposed to a whole new pool of chemicals. I was living in this heavily populated, chemical laden and polluted city. I could see and feel the physical effects it was having on my body and mind.
My career highlight has definitely been starting my business, LeQure Detox. The greatest buzz thus far on this journey was my very first sale and then later on when we were approached by the Nation’s largest chemist to stock our product!
So much goodness here, thank you for sharing so deeply babe. So let’s chat about LeQure Detox How did you think of the idea?
Well, Nothing in my life has really ever gone to plan. At the time, you feel like it’s all falling apart but trust me – everything happens for a reason and if you learn to roll with the punches and look out for the little signs the universe throws at you throughout it all, everything will fall in to place. You are EXACTLY where you are meant to be, right now. The future plan I had for myself in high school is nothing like the route I took to get where I am right now, so do not put pressure on yourself to follow the guidelines. Walk your own path.
My experience in my first year in Los Angeles gave me the idea and determination to create a lifestyle brand of products that allowed people to reduce the chemical and toxic burden on your body without going on crazy juice fasts and diets. I saw this paradox between people binge eating, drinking and living an unhealthy lifestyle to then doing a radical shift to a juice cleanse. There was no in between and no products that facilitated an in-between lifestyle of moderation. In the end, we cannot avoid toxins. Modern lifestyle has created a world with polluted air, water and food. The cosmetics we use, the tins we eat out of and the plastic we drink out of are all filled with chemicals our bodies didn’t have to deal with 50 years ago, let alone 1000 years ago. From there I started creating at home, all natural remedies to reduce my symptoms and reduce the toxic load my body was suffering from, which was the beginning of my business LeQure Detox.
After my first 12 months in Los Angeles, I hit rock bottom. I was broke, in a lot of debt, unwell and stressed out of my brain. I was unable to continue modelling whilst on the medication and I was OVER working in the bar that I got allergic to everyday. I flew back to Australia to try and get my life in order and start the business. I showed my friends and family at home these products I had designed, and with their support and encouragement we decided to start selling them! I borrowed money off my parents and started out making them by hand in the backyard of my mum’s house. I had to sit outside all day and night during the cold Melbourne winters with my hands going numb from the cold to make them. Eventually after launching online, we generated traction from all over the globe. People from all corners of the world were buying these Detox Bombs off us and contacting us to stock them in their stores. I had people from the most obscure places like Alaska and the far corners of the Middle East emailing me – it was so surreal. People sending emails saying how they have chronic conditions like Lupus and Lyme disease, and they were getting such symptom relief from my product that it was changing their life! It was a truly rewarding experience.
After the initial interest in the product was there, I went back to the US to expand and set up manufacturing and have slowly been expanding since there. There have been so many ups and downs, tears and triumphs thus far on this crazy rollercoaster. Now we are stocked in every Chemist Warehouse around Australia and aiming to leave our mark on the world! We still have a long way to go but taking one step at a time.
Congratulations!!!! Chemist Warehouse is a MASSIVE WIN. You’ve touched on it a bit, can you tell me what is the hardest part of owning your own business?
I won’t lie, this journey has not been the easy route. It still definitely isn’t easy, I have a long way to go and I learn more everyday. I set up my business first in Los Angeles, which was because I wanted to stay in LA with my Fiancée and I was able to get a visa to stay with him by doing this. By taking this route I definitely made it harder for myself starting out. I wasn’t legally allowed to work for anyone else, except my business so I was constantly struggling for money. I had this determination to make it work, not only because I believed in my product and the integrity of my business but I wanted to be living with my Fiancée in Los Angeles.
Today, finding balance can be really difficult. Trying to maintain the business, take on modelling jobs when they arise, find time to exercise and take of yourself whilst trying to balance a social life and relationship can be difficult. My partner and I both work from home, so it also can be challenging to learn when to shut off and turn out of work mode as our hours can sometimes be a little out of control. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up at 3.30am to post Instagram pictures, Skype calling overseas at 11pm to contact countries in different time zones. Sometimes I feel I am always working, even when I am sleeping!
For what it’s worth, you are doing an exceptional job? So let’s chat about your typical work day. What is your general routine?
There is no typical day for me! Every day is different and that’s what I love about my life! I continue to go between Los Angeles and Melbourne for work. When I am in Los Angeles, I live with my business partner so it makes work life easy as we wake up and are already together to be able to get things done together. I also still do juggle modelling jobs, I enjoy the work when it comes in so it makes for a different office everyday. I’ll often be multi tasking at jobs, answering emails and doing Instagram posts in between takes. Otherwise, I work on LeQure mostly from home. As long as I have my computer I have a mobile office with me, so I bring my laptop with me everywhere. Often I will go and sit at café’s and work for a few hours, just to have a change of scenery. I LOVE how working for myself allows me the freedom to be wherever I like, but it does take a lot of motivation and self control to stay on top of things. It can be so easy sometimes to stay in your PJ’s and watch Netflix instead of answering emails.
Currently, there is only my business partner and I working for our company so I spread myself between many different jobs that usually a small army of people would do. My day usually involves LOTS of emails and rotates between meetings and dealing with our manufacturers in Australia and China, dealing with retailers, I run all the social media accounts and plan our marketing strategies, deal with ambassadors and influencers, product R&D and design, content creation, website maintenance and responding to any queries and questions from customers…. Just to name a few.
Who has been your hero, or greatest inspiration growing up and why?
Growing up, it was always my mum and dad. I admired their relationship, to be supportive and stay connected despite the distance between them. I’m still inspired by my mother’s strength, independence and generosity. She was able to raise 3 kids basically alone 80% of the time as my father always away. She is the rock of our whole family. I admire my dad’s dedication, curiosity, adventurous spirit and spark for life. His lifestyle abroad definitely inspired me to take on the world myself.
What advice would you give girls who are interested in your career?
For young girls the best advice I have is to really ask yourself; what you are good at & what are your passions? Try to combine them. When you follow what comes natural to you and what you love doing, you will never feel like you have to “work” as you will love what you are doing! That may take a little bit of soul searching but you will figure it out if you stay authentic to your true self. I believe you should always start things with integrity and from a positive space. I see too many young people doing things purely for egotistical and material gains. I truly believe if you have a passion, acknowledge and align with your purpose and start projects with good intentions things will fall in to place much easier. I did not start my business because I wanted to be noticed or for egotistical reasons, I started it because I believed in my product, wanted to help people and in turn wanted to help the environment and planet. I believe the micro affects the macro – what is good for you is good for the planet.
Just start! So many people come up with an idea but don’t actually do it. Starting is the hardest part, take the leap and do it. You won’t look back. Don’t be scared of failure. Even if things don’t go to plan, you evolve in the process, learn lessons, grow, roll with the punches and can realign if things aren’t working to plan. Believe me, most entrepreneurs starting out have no idea what they are doing half the time. Communicate and connect with likeminded people to help you through your journey, you’ll be surprised just how generous and helpful people can be when you surround yourself with positive influences.
It’s not going to be easy, so you have to take care of yourself. Eat clean food, drink lots of water, sleep and meditate/practice yoga to keep a clean mind. Be nice. Radiate positivity. You attract what you put out in the world, so sprinkle that shit everywhere. Worrying about the future only creates anxiety. Focus on what is happening right now and try not to dwell on the past. When shit gets crazy – just breathe.
List your most valuable resources that you turn to constantly for inspiration!
- Favourite Blogs or Websites: Beauty Detox by Kimberly Snyder, The Plan by Lyn Genet, David “Avocado” Wolfe and The Truth About Cancer.
- Instagram Accounts that you can’t go a day without checking: I love spiritual, health, wellness and cooking social media accounts. Kimberly Snyder and David Lawrence Palmer are two of my favourites.
- Books: Women’s Wellness Wisdom by Dr. Libby (it should be compulsory for every girl/woman to read this!), The Metabolism Plan, The Alchemist, The Power of Now and #Girlboss.
- People: The women and teams around me who are doing what they love and dream with their businesses have been the greatest resource! Connecting with like-minded people is vital in this world when first starting out.
- Others: My family – including Aden & Jo