Posted: Tue 4th May 2021
The beauty and cosmetics industries have always been at the forefront of innovation. It seems like every day there's a new brand trying to shake things up, and major labels are increasingly feeling the heat.
We caught up with three Enterprise Nation members determined to disrupt the market with their natural, organic product ranges.
A long search for a natural, synthetic-free fragrance, not tested on animals and made with sustainability in mind, led Catrin MacDonnell and Hemali Modha to create their own.
Catrin, one half of the Bristol-based duo, explains:
"We wanted a scent rooted in nature; one that has minimal impact on our planet and maximum impact on our senses. We couldn't find what we were looking for and felt that the status quo needed to be challenged, so we went about creating Jones & Modha."
Jones & Modha No 1, their hero fragrance, brings together the ancient traditions of natural plant alchemy and sophisticated techniques of precision blending. Made in small batches, it promises to react naturally with the skin's oils so that it's unique to each wearer.
"It took a lot of work to bring the various aspects of the business together. Design, creation, logistics, stockists, and of course the fragrance itself, all needed to align with our ethics."
Catrin and Helami joined Enterprise Nation to help kick-start their venture.
"Enterprise Nation has been a place of learning, motivation and inspiration," Catrin says. "We've taken so many ideas from your Lunch and Learn webinars and applied them to our business. We've attended lots of events too, including Meet The Journalists and the Festival of Female Entrepreneurs. Hearing other successful business owners discuss how they grew their brands really inspired us to push ahead.
"The Beauty Exchange events have been fantastic. We've discovered how to get our product in front of buyers and learnt more about what they're looking for.
"I also attend your Heads Up local meet-ups. The Bristol group, hosted by Dan Martin, is incredibly useful, and a great way to get to know other business owners in the area. Discussing your thoughts and ideas with others and sharing expertise is invaluable. All of these resources have really helped us put in place what we need to grow.
"We officially launched in September of last year, and we're already in a number of physical stores. We also sell via our own website and some ethical online marketplaces. Of course, this poses its own challenges as people prefer to smell the product first.
"So we're now looking to create other products, such as a body lotion, that may be easier to sell online – with the same sustainable credentials, of course. The dream is to have a whole range of fragrances and products. All for both men and women."
The story of Hello Glow Pure Skincare is an enchanting one. "It all started in the 1940s," Lee Baker, founder and CEO, begins. "My mother always had a deep interest in skincare. She grew up in rural India and would often be found hunting the land for nature's bounty to beautify her skin.
"She kept a diary and painstakingly wrote down the ingredients and the meticulous methods of blending that she learnt along the way; like a book of magic potions. Fast forward many, many years and just before her death, my mother bequeathed the diary to me. A small legacy that I know will have a big impact on the skincare industry."
To reproduce those mystical recipes, Lee uses only 100% natural ingredients, sourced from a small farm in Bangladesh.
"It was my mother's wish that the farmers who grow the ingredients should benefit. So not only am I supporting the farm, but I can also boast of 'soil to seal'. Part of our profits are also used to empower vulnerable women worldwide.
"Enterprise Nation has been a real support throughout my journey. I often attended your physical events, pre-COVID. They were always inspirational. And I've just finished watching one of your Lunch and Learn sessions with Emma Jones and James Bailey; a fascinating half hour which has really helped me to understand more about what buyers are looking for. Emma's energy is infectious. I've had many moments over the years where I've doubted myself and wondered 'can I really do this?' Emma always manages to boost my morale and give me a nudge in the right direction."
It's an exciting time for Hello Glow right now. Since winning rave reviews at its launch, and more recently being featured in Lemonade Box, a popular subscription service, Lee now has the high street in sight.
"We sold one product every seven minutes when we unveiled our range at London's Professional Beauty event. I've also had amazing feedback from beauty bloggers and social media influencers worldwide."
Keen to keep that momentum going, Lee has big plans for Hello Glow.
"Currently our website is the main point of sale, however we are in talks with a few big-name retailers, so watch this space. My mission is to provide pure, natural, affordable skin and wellness products to the masses. The pandemic may have slowed the pace, but the future is looking very bright indeed."
Some of the most successful start-ups are born when entrepreneurs find the answer to a problem. For Franchine Young, that problem was an unsightly, stubborn rash.
"I never really gave my skin too much thought. It was reliable; it could handle a light layering of make-up; it was good to me… until, suddenly, one day it wasn't. I was experiencing hormonal changes when an aggressive, scaly, red rash erupted on my face overnight. I tried everything to beat it, including prescription medication. I tried to hide it too, but it was too prominent.
"Frustrated by the lack of clean, safe, organic beauty products on the market, I'd actually dabbled in creating my own skin creams when I was younger. So, already empowered with a strong knowledge of essential oils and plants, I began experimenting once again.
"Over a matter of months I trialled many combinations – until finally I developed a balm that almost instantly cleared up my rash. Within weeks I began to receive compliments about my skin; so much so that family and friends started asking for samples of my Wonder Balm. From there the idea grew to develop my own brand. So in 2018 I officially launched Franchine Young Ireland."
Of course, trying to compete in such a crowded market has had its challenges - not least a global pandemic.
"Originally we'd planned to launch softly online. I spent time developing a marketing strategy to get my products on to shelves. But with so many retailers closed during COVID, I had to rethink.
"I decided to focus on my online presence instead. I attended Enterprise Nation's Beauty and Wellness Exchange event where I discovered how so many other small businesses were pivoting during COVID too. It was by far the best event I've attended since I started this journey three years ago. I connected with some amazing businesses and like-minded entrepreneurs. Being part of Enterprise Nation, where so many resources are available under one roof, is invaluable to start-ups like me.
"With lockdown easing I'm now in talks with a number of distributors and physical stores. I'm excited to work on new products too. I hope to develop the brand to accommodate the whole family. I believe that our skin is a window into our wellbeing; when it's healthy and glowing, so too are our souls."
If you're looking to start or grow a beauty business, book your ticket for The Beauty Exchange now. Industry experts and successful entrepreneurs will be on hand to provide top tips for growing a great brand and buyers will share how you can pitch your products.