To some Zoe Foster Blake is the beauty mogul and young rich-lister whose skincare start-up swelled into a multi-million dollar empire. To others, she’s the fart woman.
While it’s certainly a challenge to create the perfect SPF moisturiser (pleasant and protective), Foster Blake arguably has a much harder one: making children fall in love with reading. A challenge that is perhaps only slightly more difficult than getting them to have a bath.
Foster Blake’s new picture book Scaredy Bath, illustrated by Daniel Gray-Barnett, tells the story of an anxious bath who spends all day fretting about the shouting, crashing, thumping children heading its way.
Children’s book author, novelist, skincare expert, young rich-lister Zoe Foster Blake.Credit:James Brickwood
It’s her fourth children’s book since she published her award-winning No One Likes a Fart, illustrated by Adam Nickel, which was exceptionally well-liked with more than 125,000 copies sold in Australia since 2017.
Foster Blake has a talent for finding the unexpected in the unexceptional (bath time, bedtime, burps and farts) and she says writing children’s books is a labour of love.
“Writing in general is my true delight and the thing that I get to do the least now. It’s something that I wish I had more time to do and I will make more time to do,” Foster Blake, 41, says. “Writing a picture book, it feels like a prize. It feels like I get to do that for all the other hard stuff. That’s how I really see it.”
The hard stuff surely includes Go-To Skincare, of which Foster Blake sold a controlling stake to ASX-listed beauty company BWX for $89 million in August.
Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster Blake, and their children.Credit:Instagram
The range, known for its sassy yet simple peach design, was founded in 2014 with a handful of products sold direct to consumers but has expanded rapidly, nationally and internationally.
A huge part of Go-To’s success can be put down to Foster Blake’s brand. She’s a former beauty director and relationship advice columnist for Cosmopolitan, who manages to be both effortlessly cool yet relatable. Her husband is podcast and television host Hamish Blake, and together they front Tourism Australia’s Holiday Here This Year campaign.
Writing a picture book, it feels like a prize. It feels like I get to do that for all the other hard stuff.
Foster Blake will remain a strategic investor in Go-To, chief creative officer and board director, but she hopes there will be more time for writing.
“It would be the hope. I’m very much still completely in the business, in as much as I was before and perhaps even more, to be honest. But I think what I have to do is create more boundaries around my days and put fences around it and say this is my Go-To day, this is my writing day. That’s on me and I have to do that. I find it tricky to do,” Foster Blake says.
A still from Tourism Australia’s latest campaign, featuring Hamish Blake and Zoe Foster Blake. Credit:
Before she had her two children (aged 4 and 7), Foster Blake primarily channelled her writing chops into novels. She has four to her name, including The Wrong Girl which was turned into a television series, as well as an Audible Original and a handful of non-fiction books including Millennial cult favourite Break-Up Boss. Foster Blake would like to return to writing novels but says she finds it challenging to invest the time with the children and the business.
“Pre-kids is when I did most of my fiction and I think I might have lost my confidence. I have a few ideas for another novel but I read too many stunning novels that it makes it worse because then I get paralysed by how good everyone is. I’ve got to get back on the horse,” Foster Blake says.
For now, Foster Blake says she wants to perfect the skill of writing for children. She’s proud of Scaredy Bath and sees it as a development in her craft; she’s getting better at writing succinctly, at creating books to be read aloud. Her children don’t generally care about her books, but Scaredy Bath was the first one her daughter asked to be re-read.
“My kids like the bath, but I realised what a violent, chaotic moment it was. This mashing sharp, plastic spokes into the wall. The water’s really hot, there’s sticky goo in there. There’s often with young, young children, poo, we’ve had vomit. It’s chaotic. I was like, ‘Man, imagine how a bath feels’.”
So to all her other epithets, Foster Blake now adds bath woman.
Scaredy Bath by Zoe Foster Blake and Daniel Gray-Barnett is out on Tuesday via Puffin.
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