Sonya Driver – Founder of Eco Tan

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.

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.

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.”

Describe yourself in 3 words:  Faith-filled, Driven, Generous.

What is your life motto? Am I making a positive difference to somebody’s life? 

When did you start pursuing your career and how long did it take to become successful? I started researching in 2008 and I would say it took a good 2 1/2 years to consider the journey a success.

How many hours did you dedicate to pursuing your dream? Way too many to count. It certainly wasn’t a 9-5 Monday to Friday job; I became consumed.

What challenges do you face in your line of work? In the first 2 years every thing that could go wrong did. I had stages when I could have run away. I just knew giving up was not an option and I had to keep moving forward. I struggle with balancing my life. The business is now sailing a smooth yet rapid course and we are all learning to navigate and go with it.

What is the mistake that taught you an extremely valuable lesson? Not listening to my gut instant!

What is the best piece of advice you have been given to date? Keep moving forward.

In your mind, is formal training essential? Absolutely not!!!

Do you think having a mentor is important? How would you go about getting one for this industry? Yes and no. You can easily get distracted by loads of business coaches and business plans and well meaning people. I gathered loads of information talked to many inspiring and knowledgeable people and took a little something from them all.

What are some steps emerging talent can take to start/further their career? I believe the motivation behind what you are wanting to achieve can fuel you. So check that carefully, people can sense if money if the motivation behind a business. Be authentic and be you. Gather as much information as possible and know you will make mistakes and don’t beat yourself up just keep moving forward!

What kept you going when you felt like giving up? The people closet to me that believed in me would push me forward with a great shove. They had seen the amount of time and passion I had invested in my product and knew I would bounce back tomorrow. 

Do you believe that ‘making it’ is about luck and being in the right place at the right time? Luck can only take you so far; the rest is pure desire & effort that will determine the result.

One thought on “Sonya Driver – Founder of Eco Tan

  1. You should be very proud of yourself and how inspiring to read your story.
    You have inspired me and what a great product, I’m just reading all about it!

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