The Business Owner: Tricia Cusden, Look Fabulous Forever

Proving age really is just a number, Tricia Cusden talks about her mature make-up brand that's expected to turn over £1.5m this year

The Business Owner: Tricia Cusden, Look Fabulous Forever

Name: Tricia Cusden
Company: Look Fabulous Forever
Location: London
Proposition: A pro-age make-up brand that celebrates the beauty of older women
Size: 5
Website: www.lookfabulousforever.com

How is your business different from what’s already out there?

In a society where the ‘ideals’ of beauty are almost exclusively represented through images of younger women and ‘anti-ageing’ products, Look Fabulous Forever provides beauty products specially formulated for mature skin with the aim of making women look and feel fabulous!

At the age of 65, I grew frustrated with the lack of beauty products available for older women, so I set out to create a range which catered for a vast, but under-represented, age group. I was inspired to create a makeup range which provides a ‘one-stop-shop’ for older women, but also to create a place where older faces and real women were celebrated through a ‘pro-age’, rather than ‘anti-age’ ethos.

We have now developed over 40 makeup tutorials available on YouTube, featuring real women over the age of 50, which have had nearly two million views between them.

How did you finance your business?

I was determined to make Look Fabulous Forever a success so I invested £40,000 of my own savings into the business initially. After a year, I received a further £40,000 injection from my two daughters and sons-in-law who invested via SEIS (Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme).

As the business grew quickly and sales were strong, I risked a further £60,000 of my own savings to continue the business. In October 2015, I raised £110,000 in return for a total of 8% of the business from four investors via SEIS bringing the total investment to £150,000 for the end of 2015.

I now expect Look Fabulous Forever to turnover £1.5m in 2016 proving that older women can be successful in business.

What marketing techniques do you use to attract new customers?

Marketing is really interesting one for us. I had no budget at all for it when I started out, hence the importance of YouTube and Facebook in creating fans who then became customers.

We have a dedicated following who tune into all of my YouTube videos. Social media is very important and allows us to compete with established beauty brands in a way that would have been impossible 10 years ago!

Where do you want the business to be in three years?

Quite simply, I’d like Look Fabulous Forever to be known as the premier go-to makeup brand for older women in the UK. I want to continue to empower this demographic to give them the confidence that age doesn’t mean less beautiful.

What is the most important thing to keep track of in business and why?

This probably sounds a bit obvious but the money in the bank! I’ve been lucky in that cash flow has never been a major problem for us as customers pay for their goods before they receive them, but keeping tabs on money in the bank versus what we’ve got to pay out has always been important to me.

What is the biggest day-to-day challenge you face?

Managing stock in a fast-growth business like ours is a challenge. We have had sudden upsurges in sales thanks to PR, most notably BBC Breakfast last December where we went from taking four orders an hour to four a minute! Luckily we had just taken delivery of new stock so the business didn’t fall over but it came close!

Do you think it’s important for small businesses to export, any tips?

We are a global e-commerce business so we send product all over the world, but we don’t strictly speaking export so this isn’t something I can really comment on.

What’s the business app you couldn’t do without?

Google Analytics on my phone. I love taking a look in a quiet moment to see how many people are on the site and what they are doing

Describe your company’s culture in three words:

Agile, authentic and passionate

What would you like the government to do for small business?

We were lucky enough to be part of the government scheme Growth Accelerator which I think has finished now, but it was a huge help in terms of getting access to help with business strategy and long term planning.

I think just to continue to make it relatively easy to set up a business and have access to investment through things like SEIS which makes investing in small businesses very attractive.

Who’s your biggest small and medium enterprise hero?

It probably doesn’t count as a small business anymore, but I very much admire Sophie Cornish and Holly Tucker for the scale of their ambition with Not on the High Street and how they achieved huge growth within a relatively short space of time.

What’s your top tip for keeping it lean and making profit?

Keep the margins high and the cost of sales as low as possible. We also employ relatively few people and use outside contractors for things like PPC advertising. Ideally we will continue down this route for as long as possible so our wages bill is kept low and we can change suppliers easily if things don’t work out.

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