Exciting News - We've Bought a Factory!

Last Wednesday morning I’d just landed at Gatwick from my holiday in Italy, so I decided to take the train home but to stop off in Clapham Junction to say hello to my daughters, Anna and Suzy, and the LFF team at our office which is near the station.

Not long after I arrived Anna received a long-awaited phone call. “We’ve done it!” she said and we all clapped and cheered.

The phone call was confirmation that our year-long effort to do a deal to buy our cosmetic manufacturers, Creative Cosmetics, had finally crossed the line, signalling that the next phase in our story was about to begin as a business that not only sells but also makes all our LFF makeup products.

Let me explain how this has come about and why it’s so exciting and significant to us as a ten year old makeup brand and to you, our amazing customers. Most of you will know the story of why I started Look Fabulous Forever, but maybe not how I actually went about it. The ‘why’ was bound up in an overwhelming feeling that as a 65 year old who loved makeup, I was very badly served by a beauty industry who saw my age as a problem to be cured by ‘anti-ageing’ potions. I wanted makeup that enhanced my ageing face, not so-called solutions for wrinkles, but most of the makeup that I could buy, formulated for young, smooth skins, didn’t work on me. 

LFF was born out of that frustration, but first I needed someone who would listen to me and who could formulate makeup in a way that really flattered and enhanced my ageing face. That’s when Creative Cosmetics came into my life via a Google search. Googling ‘UK Cosmetics Manufacturers’ threw up a fairly rudimentary website that promised ‘small, bespoke ranges of makeup for independent brands’. The fact that it was located in Ipswich in Suffolk, the county of my birth and still home to my brother and his wife, was an added attraction, because I could stay with them whenever I needed to visit the factory.

I can so clearly remember my first visit. I kept thinking ‘this is a make-or-break occasion. This business will only work if Alan, the boss of Creative Cosmetics whom I was meeting, understands what I want to achieve, accepts the premise that makeup for older women needs to be qualitatively different, and, a very big ‘if’ - if I have enough money to pay for it all’. Fortunately, Alan and I warmed to each other immediately. To say that this initial meeting got off to a flying start would be an understatement! Almost his first words to me were “I think this is the most brilliant idea”, quickly followed by “tell me exactly what makeup you’d like to have in the range and we can start making samples for you to test on yourself and your friends.”

However the most important part of that meeting was the discussion we had about what I could afford to pay him. I was completely honest and upfront about my budgetary limitations. That’s when Alan obviously decided to take a gamble and invest in me and LFF. He agreed to make just 200 of each of the face, eye and lip products I wanted in order to keep the initial outlay as low as possible. I was so naive and ignorant that I thought that these quantities were normal for a cosmetic manufacturer, but I couldn't have been more wrong. Minimum order quantities are invariably in the thousands per product, so, effectively, Alan would initially make very little profit on what he sold to me. However he was prepared to take that risk in the belief that Look Fabulous Forever would have the potential to grow into a significant customer. And so it has transpired. Over the years the growth of LFF has meant that we now account for about half the output of the factory. Which brings me to the next part of the story.

In spring last year Suzy and I decided to visit Creative Cosmetics with a view to finding out about their future plans. I knew that Alan was already semi-retired and his partner, Paul, might want to be retiring soon. I was very concerned that they might either sell the business or, even more alarming, close it down. Most makeup manufacturers are located in Italy or China, so in every potential scenario, LFF was at risk of some serious disruption of supply. Besides which, dealing with imports of finished goods from Italy post-Brexit was a potential nightmare, and the thought of dealing with Chinese manufacturers seemed very challenging.

On the journey to Suffolk I said to Suzy “If we were clever we’d buy Creative Cosmetics to secure the supply of all our makeup.” I may have tried to make that daunting prospect a bit more attractive by saying “It could be fun to run a factory”. I could almost hear Suzy thinking “yeah - right, but it would be Anna and I running the factory not you!” And she did have a point. And then, during the meeting Alan suddenly said “You don’t fancy buying us, do you?” And the incredible serendipity of that moment was not lost on either Suzy or me.

During the past year Anna has masterminded the process of doing the deal with Creative Cosmetics, with some inputs from Suzy. We appointed a specialist in mergers and acquisitions to help us and have done extensive due diligence in order to reach an agreement which suits both parties. Three different external consultants have spent time looking at every aspect of the factory and have reported very enthusiastically on their findings. The team at Creatives is knowledgeable, experienced and loyal. The equipment is well maintained and in good condition. The potential for growth is considerable and the attraction of a UK based manufacturer post- Brexit will not be lost on people looking to develop new colour cosmetic ranges outside the EU. 

So, I am very much hoping that it’s going to be great fun owning and running a factory! Which feels like an amazing new challenge to have at the age of 75, albeit with the help of lots of other people. The most important thing is that, for the foreseeable future, we have secured the supply of our wonderful, high quality face, eye and lip colour cosmetics for you, our customers.  We are also just about to appoint a formulator at Creative Cosmetics who will be researching and developing new and interesting products which will be available for all of you, our LFF customers to try.

This Wednesday the whole LFF team travelled up to Ipswich to meet our new colleagues. We celebrated Alan’s official retirement and drank a toast to a new and exciting era for both of our businesses. If you’d told me exactly ten years ago that this would be the ultimate outcome of that first journey I made to Suffolk I doubt that I would have believed you. In 2013, I drove up the A12 from London nursing my dream of creating a cosmetics brand for older women and found open minds, encouragement, warmth, enthusiasm and even a measure of financial support. And now, hopefully, I can pay that forward. I can’t tell you how excited I am about the future.

Alan (left) and Paul (right) former owners of Creative Cosmetics with Anna, Tricia and Suzy of LFF

The two teams at Creative Cosmetics and LFF drink a toast to "Partnership

The LFF Team, Alan and Paul

This machine makes our fabulous Smooth Like Silk Face Prime!

No Shimmer Eye Shade Single in Taupe

This machine creates the colour base for our powder, foundation, concealer and light look beauty balm


Our Lipsticks and Blushers are mixed and melted down in this machine

When we visited the team was in the process of creating our Fuchsia Lipstick which just so happens to be my favourite shade!

After a tour and meeting the team at Creative Cosmetics, we celebrated with some bubbles!

Cheers to an exciting journey ahead...

The Look Fabulous Forever and Creative Cosmetics Team

Watch a tour of Creative Cosmetics here: https://youtu.be/_RNLrsL1UJU

Enjoy your well-deserved retirement Alan, and we at LFF promise that we’ll do our very best to build on your legacy to develop an even more successful business now that we are the proud new owners of Creative Cosmetics.

Tricia x

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