When Alison Goodger’s third daughter was just four weeks old, she was diagnosed with breast cancer.
The co-founder of renowned brand Sukin, which the mother-of-three created with her brother Simon O’Connor, was always passionate about high performing skin care, but her diagnosis highlighted the importance of eliminating toxic ingredients from the products we use every day.
Earlier this year, Goodger and O’Connor launched Alkira — a skincare range that is free of artificial ingredients and chemicals while also celebrating Australian botanical extracts.
“I know skincare and I enjoy the process of developing skincare so creating another brand was always on the agenda,” Goodger told The Latch. “After the sale of Sukin, I had to stay out of the market for a few years. During this time, I had my third daughter, Eloise and four weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer.
“After three years, there came a time in my cancer journey where I gained the confidence to once again think long term. This was a welcome turning point for me as I needed to re-enter the world again and find my purpose and to start something that would represent a long-term future.”
Not only are Alkira products toxin-free but are also cruelty-free, vegan and the business itself is committed to reducing carbon emissions by being a NoCo2 business, which Goodger says makes her “incredibly proud as I believe businesses large and small should take accountability for their footprint.”
The Latch recently caught up with Goodger in light of October being Breast Cancer Awareness Month to chat launching Alkira Skincare, Goodger’s experience with breast cancer and her hopes for the future.
Alexandra McCarthy: Hi Alison! Thanks for chatting with us today. Starting off with your breast cancer diagnosis, is there anything you wish you knew before that diagnosis that would have helped you through this experience?
Alison Goodger: Everyone’s journey with cancer is different so it’s important to take a deep breath, understand your disease and the treatments available and just know that your future isn’t defined by someone else’s experience.
AM: Many people are supporting loved ones through similar situations. What is something that others did for you during this time that was helpful and made life a bit easier?
AG: When I was told I had cancer time stood still and silent. There was no outside noise, appointments and trivial day-to-day events didn’t matter, life stopped as I moved inwards and went into survival mode.
I found it really challenging to function and think straight, in part because I was facing an uncertain future but I had also just had a baby. I was sleep-deprived and hormonal which is why my support network was so important. I needed a clear head to guide me, take in information, ask questions on my behalf and pick me up off the floor in my darkest moments.
AM: Did this diagnosis change the way you approach beauty and skincare?
AG: Having originally founded Sukin and now starting another clean beauty brand called Alkira, I have always used and advocated for non-toxic skincare and household products so nothing much has changed post-cancer.
AM: What are your non-negotiables when it comes to your health?
AG: Interestingly, I’ve had to learn to stop blaming myself and to focus on self-care and good energy. Originally, I dissected every part of my life to try and find the ‘why’. The narrative in the media seems to be that there is always a clear cut cause for every illness. This leads us to believe that if someone has an illness then it could have been avoided and that somehow the patient must be to blame for their bad lifestyle choices.
This is not always the case. Sometimes it’s just down to bad luck. Once I stopped blaming myself, I felt I could move forward and pack cancer away into the archives of my life where I intend to keep it so maintaining a positive attitude and surrounding myself with good energy is my main non-negotiable.
“Maintaining a positive attitude and surrounding myself with good energy is my main non-negotiable.”
AM: You and your brother Simon recently launched Alkira. Can you please tell me what inspired you to create this skincare brand?
AG: I know skincare and I enjoy the process of developing skincare so creating another brand was always on the agenda. After the sale of Sukin, I had to stay out of the market for a few years. During this time, I had my third daughter, Eloise and four weeks later I was diagnosed with cancer.
After three years, there came a time in my cancer journey where I gained the confidence to once again think long term. This was a welcome turning point for me as I needed to re-enter the world again and find my purpose and to start something that would represent a long-term future.
I knew I still wanted to stay within the natural skincare space as this has always been important to me. A couple of years ago, ingredient suppliers started to present to me some really exciting developments with Australian native botanical extracts. Aside from the obvious extracts such as Kakadu Plum, they were starting to work with ingredients that hadn’t typically been introduced in facial skincare.
I found this really exciting. Native extracts such as antioxidant-rich Davidson Plum, essential fatty acid rich Kangaroo Paw and vitamin C rich Finger Lime Caviar were offering natural phyto-active compounds delivering active and multifunctional benefits in skincare. Understanding and incorporating these ingredients into a range became my focus.
AM: Can you tell us about the ethos of Alkira?
AG: Alkira is a brand that celebrates Australian native extracts and pairs them with botanical extracts to deliver results. Our brand values reflect our personal choices. We remain cruelty-free, vegan, we eliminate known toxins and we continue to be committed to reducing our carbon emissions by being a NoCo2 business.
I spoke with our friends at the Carbon Reduction Institute recently and they told me that we were instrumental in the success and longevity of their business as we were one of the first mass brands that partnered with them and helped to spread the important NoCo2 word. This makes me incredibly proud as I believe businesses large and small should take accountability for their footprint.
“Alkira is a brand that celebrates Australian native extracts and pairs them with botanical extracts to deliver results.”
AM: How was the experience of launching a brand during a pandemic?
AG: Launching a brand in the midst of a pandemic has presented its own unique challenges. We’ve been guided by the market and consumer confidence throughout the year and have worked hard to adapt.
AM: What are your long term hopes and plans for Alkira?
AG: Taking a brand from concept to shelf is an incredibly rewarding experience. Developing a brand identity that aligns with our values and discovering customers that connect with the brand and our values. Those who choose to come on the brand journey with us is what fuels my passion, so my long term plan is to create another beautiful Australian clean beauty brand and to establish some good export opportunities.
You can shop natural skincare goodies via the Alkira website.