When Cusden founded Look Fabulous Forever in 2013, she wanted to create a business which would be a source of help and inspiration to older women.This included creating a make-up range to bring specific benefit to older faces, eyes and lips and using the digital landscape to encourage them to appreciate their beauty. As such, we quizzed Cusden on her use of social platforms, video tutorials, and the nifty face recognition tools she uses to lure consumers. She and the business are the latest entry to our Microsoft 30 Digital Champions, and have quite a story to tell. (1) Please give us a brief introduction to the business? Look Fabulous Forever is a brand of makeup specially formulated for older women. I founded the business at the age of 65 having become frustrated by the lack of products available, specifically for more mature skin. I was using products from several different brands to achieve the look I wanted so I thought I’d try to create a one-stop shop for older women. I also wanted to create a place of celebration for older faces by only using real women over 50 in all my photographs. (2) What have the significant growth milestones been in the last few years? As we have only been in business two years, the milestones are quite recent. We have now reached 1.3m views on our YouTube channel featuring over 30 makeup tutorials for older women; we’ve just taken on external investment for the first time and we are set to double turnover this year. I’ve also been able to take on two employees, which has lightened my workload considerably and we’ve moved into new offices so it’s been a busy year. (3) What inspires you as an entrepreneur/business owner, and how does that come across with your company? I was inspired to start Look Fabulous Forever because I didn’t like the way that the traditional beauty industry speaks to me as an older woman. I wanted to challenge the prevailing “anti-age” rhetoric and also to create products which genuinely worked better on older faces, eyes and lips. In all our communication we only use positive, upbeat, celebratory and pro-age messages. Also we only show our makeup on age-appropriate real older women (not models) to show that we stand for a completely different way of approaching beauty for women over a certain age. Read about some other of our Digital Champions:
- The Scottish fashion retailer mixing it with the big boys
- The growing coffee shop chain set in police boxes and a barge
- The shoe brand getting orders from global musicians and royalty
(4) What kind of obstacles are you encountering as you grow your enterprise? I’m not from a digital, ecommerce background so sometimes it’s hard to know which direction to take and whose advice to listen to. We’ve made some mistakes along the way, but we can also adapt and recover quickly, one of the great things about being a small business. (5) For a company that isn’t technology based, how has a digital approach helped you to carve out a bigger market and acquire new customers? YouTube has been massively important to our growth. We’re reached a global audience of older women who seem to really appreciate being addressed in a way which speaks to their needs in terms of makeup and appearance. Similarly, Facebook has been a great way to engage with our community and to get the message out there. I write a blog every week which I post on Facebook, which sometimes gets huge, organic reach and which is a very cost effective way for us to reach potential new customers.
(6) How is technology helping you to overcome hurdles, and what are the challenges of implementation? With digital techniques on our side it has meant we can operate on a much bigger and more ambitious scale than was ever previously possible. Some ten years ago, the success of Look Fabulous Forever would have depended on attracting interest from retailers where your margins are significantly reduced. Now we can reach a huge, growing audience of older women across the world which has massive implications for our business. (7) Do you employ any kind of flexible working, and how does technology fit into this? We all work flexibly in that we’re not in the office five days a week, nine till five, though perhaps the downside of depending on the internet for sales is that the shop never shuts and I can be answering emails from customers at all times of day or night. We use a range of tools to manage projects with external consultants, and Skype for virtual meetings. (8) What kind of technology tools can you not work without? I suppose email is the obvious one – it allows our customers to instantly contact us and for us to solve problems and help in a very fast way, which is great for developing customer relationships and brand loyalty. (9) What kind of technology would help you better compete with larger rivals? We are investigating face recognition technology which allows you try makeup on your face in a very realistic way using an app. This has been used by big makeup brands, and we think this would potentially remove one of the main barriers to buying makeup via the website, which is knowing which colours to choose. (10) Where do you want to take your business in the future? We want to be the go-to makeup brand for older women within the next five years. It’s ambitious, but why not shoot for the moon?
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