Date Posted: Monday 29th February 2016
Millie Kendall MBE (pictured above with Jemma Lamble, deputy editor at DIARY directory) has been immersed in the beauty industry for 25 years. A beauty brand creator and retail maven, she has been instrumental in the launch of a number of renowned brands, from Shu Uemura and Aveda to Ruby & Millie and Concoction Haircare. Alongside former Beauty Director of Vogue Anna-Marie Solowij, Millie is Co-Founder of BeautyMART, a disruptive retail concept for beauty that launched in 2012. BeautyMART drives content online from thisisbeautymart.com and operates within a key space at Topshop, Oxford Circus.
DIARY directory caught up with Mille recently for 'A date with DIARY'...
Why did you introduce BeautyMART and how has it changed over the years?
Anna-Marie and I have spent over two decades in the beauty industry championing and creating brands and we wanted to create a retail format that would be the way forward. Judging by, in just three years, how some of the larger retailers have changed how they sell cosmetics, it has worked. BeautyMART will never really change on a macro level as it is our personalities and how we love to shop for beauty that is integral to the concept; the design, the pace, the environment and the service. The micro and what we stock changes almost weekly. We are lucky we can move fast and don’t have a lot holding us back.
"You have to be bold, never get tired and work very very very hard.
Have a great idea, a good one won’t do, and invest in your team. " - Millie Kendall
What is BeautyMART offering that isn’t out there already?
Attitude! We offer a place for women of all ages to enjoy cosmetics and don’t determine our offering based on age and budget. We are truly democratic, and we are naturally disruptive so you will always find something interesting at BeautyMART.
Recently you launched BRANDstand, can you explain more about this and why it was launched?
We found a lot of people wanted help with their fledgling brands and larger companies were calling us in to ask us what we thought about the future of cosmetics. We recognised this, coupled with our expertise in marketing made for a compelling business model. We were doing it anyway, now we charge for it and we have formalised our engagement with brands.
What are the deciding factors when working with brands?
Credible founders, great packaging, good formulas, graphics that pop, good shelf presence; it has to be photogenic and look good in a magazine/blog. Good story and method of use, key and hero ingredients and a reason for being.
You integrate being a brand with PR and brand development, in addition to providing editorial, how do you strategise it all?
We have to divide BeautyMART the store, from BRANDstand and PR, and we believe everyone who works for us knows their roles and the difference between the two. So when selecting products for BeautyMART retail we have a different strategy to looking at which brands need BRANDstand. Being a brand we are two people with skills and we are simply marketing these in different guises - to consumers via BeautyMART retail, which is somewhat edited, BRANDstand to brands, and BMPR to press and bloggers.
Coming on to press and bloggers... how do you work with them, where do you see things moving forward within this arena?
I think for BeautyMART, the influencers are specific as they would be with any brand. We are seeing a shift to paid content with online influencers and this will change influence, as it must, and perhaps we will see a rise in independent magazines as these will have an editorial voice.
How does the social boom affect you and how do you use this to your advantage?
I used to own a PR company back in the 1990s and the social boom has expanded our outreach in a massive way, but I think it is brilliant. I love social media; I am more of an observer, but I use all channels and I think the speed of it is what appeals to me and the fact I can quickly sift through a load of content.
You’ve got such a small team, how do you organise your day? Who is the team and what do they do?
Katie McClure is our Buyer and Retail Manager; Francesca Latorraca is our Assistant Retail Manager, alongside a team of retail staff (4 plus); Sarah Guild is our PR Director for BMPR - managing all independent PR clients (these are not all stocked at BeautyMART); Elise Loubatieres is our Press and Executive Assistant so works with BeautyMART retail and some of our independent PR clients and also assists me; Claire Farrell, who manages sales for BRANDstand (we help brands to wholesale into other retailers); and Anna-Marie Solowij – Co-Founder who directs buying, while also producing all editorial content. I manage marketing and strategy - I direct the marketing of BeautyMART retail, I ensure all BeautyMART PR clients are being promoted with the right message and story required for maximum PR coverage, and I also manage the strategies and advise for BRANDstand clients who need help to break into the UK market.
What is on your desk right now?
Too much at the moment. Although I am quite neat normally. I have my phone, a contract, a Prismologie hand cream, two Barely make-up sponges and Stiks Naked Lipstik. A shopping trolley (from Tiger) and photos of my kids…and three bottles of Concoction Shampoo. We are changing the name of this brand and it is launching in the USA in Ulta next month so I am taking some of the old stock home for the archives.
Best advice for new businesses?
You have to be bold, never get tired and work very very very hard. Have a great idea, a good one won’t do, and invest in your team. We have had some great girls work for BeautyMART and we include all old girls in social activity, they helped shape what it is today.
Any future plans?
Goodness loads, watch this space, my lips are sealed!
Three words you live by?
Do or Die
Your ‘go to’ beauty product this month?
EX1 Cosmetics 200 Invisiwear Foundation, I am dating and need to look my best!
Fill in the blank: Your team would describe you as being… I dread to think…over to you Sarah!
Sarah comments: "Wonderwoman, mixed with a little Blondie. She has superpowers when it comes to all things business and an effortlessly cool edge that's eternal".
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