Sunday, January 27, 2013

Sonya's Story

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Three years ago a wife, a mother, a sister had the world at her feet. She had two beautiful little girls, a husband, and was about to build their dream home. She was an international flight attendant and had a great sense of self worth....until. One fateful day her husband ran off, her younger sister was diagnosed with a Melanoma, and on top of everything else, she was forced to take a redundancy from what she thought was her dream job. Sonya Driver was left to raise her two young girls alone. 

Abandoned, unemployed, and using what little energy she had left to lift her shattered spirit, she promised herself to be a strong positive influence for her fragile younger sister Rachael. For most women in the same circumstance it would be hard not to lock yourself away and let depression eat you up.

Sonya however, is not an average woman. This is where her life truly began....

“I remember the day all too well. In a second my life plan exploded into dust. My marriage was over via a phone call, and my dream home complete with a fireplace was all but a fleeting memory. My two gorgeous little girls kept asking me why I was crying so much. It’s been 3 years and they still ask why we can't be a family. I remind myself daily that Lady Di once was a single mum, and so I refuse to accept any element of shame associated with being a single parent. I even have the family stickers on the back of my car. 1 lady, 2 girls and a fat dog.” Sonya said.

Despite all the chaos and emotional pain that was engulfing her life, Sonya knew that if she didn’t shift her focus and energy into something uplifting then it would only be a matter of time before her battered self esteem would crumble. She drew herself wearily from the ground and decided to volunteer in East Timor to care for the poorest of the poor. She shampooed the hair of women that had never had their hair washed, fed hungry children, and comforted the sick.... “To be honest I was battling grief and anxiety and I couldn’t shake it. I knew deep inside my spirit that I needed to face a different kind of struggle and help bring comfort to others. I knew it would heal my wounds better than any medication ever could.”

After a month in East Timor and a new determination, Sonya came home, inspired by the women who struggle day to day living in the poorest conditions.

“It was time to make a positive change. I was still deeply affected by my sister Rachel’s cancer scare. She was also a young mum with two very small children and I couldn’t bare to think of what we would do if the cancer had travelled “too far”. I’m so grateful that the melanoma was on the front of her arm where she noticed the changes quickly. Anyone with a younger sibling who has been through a traumatic experience would know the helpless feeling you get when something like this happens.”

But from a dire situation came Sonya’s inspiration. Tanning had always been a favourite past time for the two sisters, but now that was definitely not an option.  

“Sun protection was something I started looking into. I loved to spend hours in the sun tanning my pale complexion, so I knew this was going to get interesting. Much to the amusement of our kids, Rachel and I started using spray tans. I mean from what everyone claimed it was a much safer option.”
Curious about these claims, Sonya started researching the ingredients used in the tanning products she was using.
“I was appalled at the petrochemicals and synthetics that manufacturers were using to create these tanning products. Rachel's scar was deep and new and we didn’t want any toxic ingredients on her skin. From what I had learnt, much of what we put onto our skin gets absorbed through our blood stream.”

The fact Sonya felt so passionately about what her sister was putting on her skin after her diagnosis led her to create a true organic tanning product that both women and men can use. Her Eco Tan range recently made Australian history by becoming the first and only tanning products to be certified by the Organic Food Chain under the Australian Government.

“To be honest, manufacturing an organic product has been a tough battle, both personally and financially, but I believe what I’m doing is important. It’s a lot cheaper and easier to manufacture synthetics, money has never been my motivation. I want to look back on my life and feel I left a legacy of something positive, and wasn’t just a consumer on this earth.”

Sonya says creating the range has been a mix of blood, sweat and tears and has taken its toll on her family. “My girls have days when they ban me from talking about my business. I’ve spent thousands of hours sourcing and researching ingredients. I made small batches myself and my kitchen was turned into a lab as I experimented on my family and friends.”

It’s been an eye opening journey. “I almost wish I didn’t know as much as I do, it’s stopped me buying a lot of cosmetics on the shelves. I get so annoyed at the misleading natural and organic claims. It makes my blood boil!” 

Sonya still lives in a tiny house without a dish washer and yep, she’s still a single mum. Her organic mission highlights to the best of us that no matter how dark your world turns, never give up and know you are worthy, strong and have value!

Synthetics and nasty ingredients have had their day. There are amazing Australian products out there that are affordable so we need to read the ingredients on labels and look past fancy marketing. Ask yourself, what’s the integrity of the company? Petrochemicals, nasty preservatives and synthetics, not really the words you’d associate with beauty?

Please contact me for any further information.
Sonya Driver 1300 596 118

Sunless Tanning is a growing trend throughout Australia, and according to one Australian study, more than 9% of the population over the age of 18 use fake tanning products, 28% of which are women aged 18-24.
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