Happy 8th Birthday Look Fabulous Forever!
Birthdays are an important moment for celebration - aren’t they? In a business context, they mark a moment in time when our team can breathe a sigh of relief and say ‘we made it through another year and we’re still going!’
I feel that very strongly about our 8th birthday at Look Fabulous Forever after the two years of challenge and uncertainty that we have just endured. At the beginning of the pandemic in March 2020, I really believed that our business would be unsustainable. Makeup is associated with the social rituals of going out and meeting up with our friends and family, so with all our usual activities suspended, why would any of our customers bother to wear or buy makeup? Well, happily, I was so wrong!
During that first lockdown back in March 2020, I learnt that makeup is about so much more than ‘putting your face on’ for the benefit of others. It’s about ritual and routine. It’s about self care and self worth and feeling better. And, when the whole world is in turmoil, it can offer light relief via fun, creativity and experimentation.
Far from losing touch with our LFF customers, lockdown provided me with a reason to connect with all of you even more personally. Teatime at the Ritz, Super Troopers and this year’s Bright Spots programme of daily events combined with our ongoing Makeup Magic Mondays, Tricia Talks and Film Club have all been the most fantastic way to get to know you and to enjoy your company. So, in reflective mood I have been thinking of the 8 important lessons that Look Fabulous Forever has taught me over the past 8 years:
My 8 Life Lessons From LFF
1. There Are Lots of Women Like Me!
As an age group, we really are ageing in a different way from our mothers and grandmothers. We expect to continue to live engaged and active lives well into our ‘proper’ old age. Because I did no market research, I backed my hunch that this was true, mainly by looking at my friends and how they were leading their lives. So, starting a makeup brand to help a generation of women to look and feel fabulous wasn’t so crazy after all!
Our Ambassadors were selected from our Facebook group 'The Super Troopers', which has continually proven just how many women like me there are
2. Mitigate the Risk, but Do It Anyway
It’s all too easy to become more cautious with age, so I have learnt that we need to challenge the assumption that ‘it’s too late or I’m too old’ to do something new or risky. Had I been younger than 65 when I launched LFF I think that I would have taken out a large mortgage on my flat to raise the money I needed. I would have reasoned that at 35 or 45, I’d have enough time to recoup that investment, especially if the business was a success. Being 65 didn’t stop me risking a new venture, but I did decide to mitigate the risk by using my savings initially and then asking others to invest in the business.
3. Selling Online is Very Different to Direct Selling
There is a whole art and science to online sales that is wholly different from selling to customers in shops. We are trying to attract and hold your attention in a busy, noisy, crowded digital world. Our audience may have a degree of resistance to buying online, and they may especially have an aversion to buying makeup online. So, we work very hard to make this as easy as we can with all of our videos, our information-rich website and with real human beings called Caroline and Julie who are there to answer your questions and do telephone orders if you prefer.
4. Running a Makeup Business is Fun!
My parents ran a successful ironmongery and builders’ merchants business. They spent all their time discussing nails, screws and cement! I get the incredible pleasure of discussing lipstick colours and the formulation of foundation and blusher. I absolutely love every aspect of Look Fabulous Forever from the photography, to the videos, to the products we sell and, most importantly to the contact I have with all of our fabulous customers. Makeup makes women look and feel more beautiful, so it’s a real privilege to work in an area which is so positive and uplifting.
5. Learn All You Can, and Then Delegate
Looking back eight years I find it difficult to believe that for the first few months I was responsible for everything at LFF which is now done by a team of 10! I took care of customer services, orders, payment, delivery, website issues, supplies and promotional activities. I can remember answering customer emails at 10 pm in the evening if they came in from the USA at that time. For a while I would even trouble shoot in the middle of the night if my phone pinged with an enquiry at that time. Then my older daughter Anna joined me and we started to share the responsibility and a year later Suzy, my younger daughter arrived to look after the stock, sales income and business costs. It was initially helpful to get a handle on all aspects of the business from Day One, but thank goodness LFF now has proper experts who really do know what they are doing.
6. Working With Family Adds an Extra Dimension of Joy
Recruiting my daughters Anna and Suzy has worked so well for our business
This has been the biggest and best bonus of the past eight years. It was never my intention to involve my two girls at the outset. However the evolution of LFF coincided with a time in both of their lives when they were looking for a new direction. Anna had been working with a PR agency but was increasingly restless and could see that promoting LFF to a wider audience might be fun. Her first decision at LFF was to enter us for The Guardian ‘Best Business Start Up’ in 2014 and we were placed in the top three, giving us a half page spread in the paper and lots of new customers. The following year Suzy, who was working for Barclays, also joined us as our Operations Director. Having contact with them both is a daily pleasure as we all love what we do.
7. Try Not to Sweat the Small Stuff
In the early days I would worry about every last little thing. I felt a huge responsibility if a customer didn’t get an order on time or if there was a website glitch or someone couldn’t apply a discount code. It has taken me a while, but I have learnt that you cannot control everything and that the world doesn’t come to an end if we run out of Face Prime (although it sometimes feels like it!) We’ve had our fair share of issues with Brexit, Covid 19 and the disruptions caused by both, but throughout we have done our very best to mitigate those problems and keep our customers informed. As long as we have all done our utmost, then I try my best not to lose sleep.
8. Play to Your Strengths
Eight years into this business I really know how I can best contribute to it. I love talking and writing so I do a lot of both! I talk to journalists all over the world (this week at 7pm to someone in Australia for whom it was 4 am!). I contribute at relevant conferences where I speak up on behalf of the older woman, which I am doing next week at an online Later Life Conference. And I enjoy writing responses to enquiries from magazines or newspapers and of course I have a regular date with all of you by writing this weekly blog. I also get involved in testing new products, photoshoots and our strategic development meetings, all of which I love doing. Can I keep going despite my advancing years? Undoubtedly, as long as I play to my strengths so that it never feels like hard work.
I need to end this celebration of our 8th birthday by thanking all of you for your continued support of Look Fabulous Forever. Many of you have been a part of our story from the beginning, whilst others have discovered our beautiful makeup and skin care as we have grown and developed and spread the word to reach more people. Here at LFF Towers we are excited about the future and all the plans we have for new ways to keep you feeling and looking fabulous. So, as we pop the cork on the champagne, I hope you’ll join us and raise a toast to wish us “A Very Happy 8th Birthday Look Fabulous Forever!”
Upcoming Event Information:
Film Club - Woman at War
available on Amazon Prime
Day: Friday 22nd October
Password (if needed): LOOKFAB