Tricia Cusden founded her British make-up brand Look Fabulous Forever in order to cater to a market she believed were simply being ignored - older ladies who still love make-up. At LFF the focus is on celebrating the beauty of older women without fretting about the odd wrinkle or two - here Tricia tells us her story...
How did you get involved, and why? Did you see a gap in the market?
I was 65 and very much feeling the need for a new challenge and an opportunity to meet new people.
I have always loved business, makeup and I hated the anti-ageing rhetoric of the beauty industry.
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How did you fund yourself initially?
I used £40,000 of my retirement savings.
What were your biggest challenges?
Nothing felt particularly difficult in the run-up to the launch. I had the great good fortune to find a cosmetics manufacturer who understood what I wanted and was prepared to make the products I specified.
He also allowed me to order only 200 at a time of each of the 12 makeup items. This was a fantastic help as it meant that I could actually afford to create the initial range within my budget.
What are you most proud of?
The feedback we get from our customers and the thanks I get daily from women who are feeling happier and more confident about their makeup than they have for years.
What surprised you?
How easy it was to use social media (YouTube, Facebook and blogging) to get the business off the ground. I would have been very skeptical if anyone had suggested that this would be a successful - and free - way to market makeup to older women, but it really worked.
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Did you learn any new skills?
So many I can hardly name them all! Mostly digital skills which are essential when you are running an internet business!
What resources (other than monetary) did you find most useful?
Support from my friends, many of whom volunteered to be in my videos as ‘models’ and also in our gallery of ‘before’ and a'fter’ makeover photographs.
I also had investment funds from my sons-in-law and both of my daughters came into the business with excellent relevant skills (Public Relations and Finance).
I also sought out a couple of people for advice - one was a very successful young entrepreneur and the other a friend of my daughter’s who had several years of experience working within the beauty business.
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What was the best piece of advice you received when you first started?
To be very clear what I wanted the business to become. The advice was to write down what I expected to achieve with the business within five years. My advisor said if you write it down, you are much more likely to get there.
After three years we are very well on our way to reaching the objectives for the business that I set at the start.
What do you wish you’d known from the beginning?
To hire the people before you are desperate for their help rather than afterwards! I carried on trying to do all the customer service until I was working 14 hours a day, 7 days a week!
Fortunately we found the perfect Customer Services Manager and she was very quickly competent and now does the job far far better than I can! Now we are planning what our likely resource needs are and recruiting in anticipation of continued growth.
If you could give one piece of advice to someone considering following a similar path to you, what would that be?
Just do it! There has to be a point when you take the risk.
Starting a business is an exciting, exhilarating and scary thing to do. Obviously you have to make sure that you mitigate the risk especially if, like me, you are 65, but there is a point when you have to put yourself on the line and see what will happen.
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