As co-founder of Votary, I love hearing about other businesses founded by women. It’s great to share stories. I’m thrilled that Dot Dash founder Nicole Dash is a #Votarist. Here she is talking to me about exercise and skincare, and why Votary works for her.
First of all, can you share your sporty, entrepreneurial bio with Votary?
I’ve always been passionate about exercise. In my twenties I was a champion power lifter. My best lift was a squat lift of 129 kilos which was more than double my body weight. I also worked as a personal trainer and as a ballet barre instructor. I conceived the idea for my sports clothing brand shortly after conceiving my son Jago who is now sixteen months old. It’s been a bit like having two babies! Alongside Dot Dash, I still work as a personal trainer. I’m also an Associate Lecturer at Oxford Brookes University and an ambassador for social networking app ‘Bumble Bizz’. I’m active on social media, with a particular focus on achievable fitness for women after pregnancy. I think it’s important that women are given compassionate, safe, realistic goals for their bodies after pregnancy rather than being bombarded with instagram perfection. Dot Dash clothing is designed to make you feel great working out, whatever shape you are and whatever shape you are in.
Why is exercise so important to you and why do you think women should make space for it in their lives?
Exercise has been so important to me and for my mental health. My days are packed with juggling different priorities and if I get too busy or stressed I can feel really anxious. A good run or workout gives me some time to myself, a chance to re-evaluate and to prioritise and then I’m all good. I think exercise can work as a safety valve for everyone which is why it should be a priority however busy we are.
What made you want to start your own sportswear company and what makes you especially proud of Dash?
After being an ambassador for a prominent athleisure wear company for five years I wanted to combine my passion for fashion and fitness and start my own brand. I was in the early stages of pregnancy and it felt like the perfect time because my life was about to change in all sorts of ways so I thought I’d throw another element into the mix. What I love about Dot Dash is that the clothing isn’t just great for exercising. It’s comfortable, chic and stylish, and is designed to be worn all day if you want to. I also really concentrated on the fabric quality so it can be washed and worn so many times without losing shape or colour. That means it lasts which is so much more environmentally respectful and sensible.
As an entrepreneur, personal trainer and mum, your days are evidently busy. What’s your daily skincare routine?
It’s quick and simple! I do the Votary 3 step routine, taking a couple of moments for mindfulness when I apply the face cloth to my skin. At night I do the same and depending how hungry my skin feels I might add a dab of Super Seed Nutrient Cream to seal it all in.
What do you look for in skincare and how have your needs changed over time?
I look for results, simple as that. I have noticed such a change since I started using Votary. I switched from a foaming cleanser; I realised that the squeaky clean feel after a foam cleanser was just actually my skin feeling tight, stripped and fake-clean. Oil cleansing makes my skin feel properly clean and hydrated and it feels so much kinder to my face. When I was pregnant, the Votary Super Seed range was a complete lifesaver. It really helped with the dryness I experienced and I loved that it was fragrance free. Now that my skin has reverted to its usual state, the Clarifying range also really works for me. I hop between the two. My skin is so much calmer, more balanced and I have far fewer breakouts. I want my skin to feel comfortable and look healthy and glowing, and using plant oil based skincare really works for me.
What are your top tips for taking care of your skin after working out?
– Don’t be tempted to touch your face after a workout until you’ve washed your hands. Gym machines and equipment carry tons of bacteria which you don’t want anywhere near your post-workout face.
– Keep your hair off your face. If you’re a bit of a sweater avoid hair products running on to your skin and clogging your pores.
– Cleanse as soon as possible after a workout or class. You don’t want sweat and excess sebum sitting around and drying on your face. GET RID!
– Hydrate your skin after a workout. Drink lots of water to hydrate from within and load your skin with your facial oil or cream When your skin is warm and your pores are open it can really soak it up.
Why do you think plant oil based skin care is so good for your skin?
I think exercise, a healthy lifestyle, nutritious eating and natural skincare are all part of the same approach. Plant based skincare is packed with natural goodness and I think it just works better with your skin than more synthetic, highly processed options.
Which Votary product wouldn’t you be without?
My Natural Lip Oil. I don’t wear a lot of make-up and this gives my lips a subtle gloss which I love.
Which skincare or beauty item would you never scrimp on?
My Votary Cleansing Oil. Some days I have to cleanse my face numerous times after personal training sessions and classes, and it’s crucial to get all the sweat and sebum off. Cleaning it properly with an oil cleanser and a flannel means my skin doesn’t get dull and congested, and it stays soft, supple and glowing.
Best nail varnish ever?
Ballet Shoes by Essie
Working out wearing make-up – yes, sometimes, never?
If it’s an early morning workout, never. Sometimes if I’m taking a meeting before.
What makes you laugh?
When people stub their toe – don’t ask!
Santorini 2016, when I married my gorgeous husband Calum.
Best box set?
Prison Break. I don’t want to know how many hours I’ve spent watching this.
This is a hard one. For athlesiure wear it’s a pair of Vejas because they’re so chic. For training it’s Nike Metcon.
Singalong in the car to?
Serena Williams – beautifully bad ass.
Trust your journey.
Your friends would describe you as?
Dramatic! 100% dramatic!
Favourite muscle group?
Things your mother taught you?
Never go to sleep on an argument.
Thank you, Nicole. I’m sure you’ve inspired lots of #Votarists to take a class and to cleanse their skin afterwards.
Love, Arabella x
To learn more about Dot Dash athleisure wear, read here.
Read about the Votary three step routine here.
Read about why Votary Super Seed range is perfect for pregnancy here.
For a masterclass in oil cleansing read here.