Jo Chidley is a chemist with a background in sales, product development and design who always had in interest in beauty. She started Beauty Kitchen when she saw a gap in the market for natural beauty goods.
“The UK employs over one million people within the beauty industry and it’s worth about £17bn. Natural products is one of the fastest growing categories,” said Chidley.
“Beauty Kitchen is for women who love beauty products – it offers 100 per cent natural, 100 per cent effective, everyday luxury products with a sprinkle of fun and a big dollop of transparency.”
Aside from manufacturing and selling products, one of Beauty Kitchen’s strengths lies in its DIY beauty range. The brand encourages people to make their own beauty products in store, and sells kits that teach customers how to make their own from home.
“The original Beauty Kitchen is in Glasgow. It’s still there, we’re number two on TripAdvisor for things to do in Glasgow. We have taught about 3,500 people how to make their own beauty products.”
The brand’s ambition is to 100 per cent make a difference in everything it does. “My motto is: ‘I may not be perfect but at least I’m not fake’. What we’re trying to do as a beauty company is debunk some of that idealistic perfection that a lot of other beauty companies have instilled in the consumer.
“But the 100 per cent make a difference, this is around anything we do. It might be looking at the most sustainable ingredient that we use, or it might be around sustainable packaging or supporting specific charities.”
The company has been trading for just over two years, but already it is on its second charity campaign. The first was in support of a rhino sanctuary, and the second is the Seahorse Trust.
Despite the brand’s dedication to building a natural, ethical reputation, getting certified has been something of a headache. Beauty Kitchen is currently going through the certification process, but Chidley highlighted that for a small business it can be very costly to get the stamp of approval for being organic or not testing on animals etc.
Beauty Kitchen currently has an exclusive trade agreement with Holland and Barrett in the UK, which at first might sound unusual as it’s not a place that would spring to mind for most people as a place to buy beauty treatments. However, Holland and Barrett’s customers typically have an interest in wellbeing and ethical trading and the partnership has been flourishing.
Through the partnership with Holland and Barrett, the brand has also expanded in to the Netherlands and Belgium, and Chidley isn’t stopping there.
“There’s been a significant growth spike over the last six months. Our next stage of growth is to expand further internationally, so we are looking at expanding within a couple of other European countries. We’re also looking at the far east and North America.”
In order to achieve these ambitions, Beauty Kitchen is signed up to the Entrepreneurial Spark programme. Chidley has learned a lot from the programme, and one of the things she has found most beneficial is perfecting her 60-second pitch.
“I think being able to adjust that 60-seconds to explain to somebody that maybe has never heard of Beauty Kitchen in such a short space of time has given me more confidence in pitching.
“Key partners like RBS, KPMG and Harper McCloud – they have all supported the significant growth that Beauty Kitchen has had in the past 18 months. I don’t think we would be where are today had we not been part of that programme.”
Like any business Beauty Kitchen has had its challenges, but things are looking positive for the ear ahead. Chidley’s advice to anyone thinking of starting their own business this year is to stop thinking about it and just do it.
“Those barriers that you put up are actually stopping you from going in to action,” she said.
“If you’re launching in to the beauty industry, even if you only launch with one product but it’s one you really truly believe in, then by the time you get to the end of 2017 you might have four products. But if you don’t do something now, you never will.”