Inside Business First: Ruby Cosmetics
As the first part of our Inside Business First series, we interviewed Business First Blackpool tenant, Sophie Craig, of Ruby Cosmetics, to find out all about her, her business and how being a Business First tenant has helped her to grow.
What’s your background?
At the age of 21 I graduated from university, leaving behind my childhood and entering into what I like to call the real world - the world of work. This left me with many questions on how I would move forward with my future and what path I would take in order to try and achieve the lifestyle I've always dreamed of.
My working career started in sales on a Blackpool fun fair. Having one to one communication with the general public was something I enjoyed and found I was good at, so with this in mind I chose to do Tourism Business Management at university. Throughout my course the main thing that remained in my head was a desire to work for myself and create my own little business empire.
My dad was my main supporter; he always told me that life was short and I should pursue my dream, if all else failed I was young enough to start again. My parents have always worked the event scene, attending major events across the UK. This appealed to me as it seemed to tick all the boxes I enjoy in everyday life, being outdoors, travelling the country, and working with the public.
When did you launch the brand and what was the reason behind it?
I started Ruby Cosmetics in 2013 as beauty was something I had always been passionate about. Also somebody once told me that in the hard economic climate people would always be able to find a little bit more disposable income to spend on products that gave them a feel good factor. At this time I was able to see that eyebrow make up was going to take the country by storm and wanted to get involved.
After weeks of pondering the idea and researching into the market, I decided that semi-permanent eyebrow makeup with the use of stencils was perfect. This opened many avenues where I was able to sell the product directly to consumers at shows and online, as well as sell the products wholesale to businesses within the beauty industry.
What did you study and how useful was that for launching the brand?
Even though my career does not have a distinct connection with my degree it proves positive in everyday life. The main influence university had on me was helping me to develop as a person and I met amazing friends who all had different outlooks on what they wanted from life. My passion to become successful started in my second year and my whole attitude changed. I realised I had one chance to make the most of the opportunity and gave my degree course 110% so I could leave knowing that I did my best.
Moving forward with launch of Ruby, I maintained this attitude and it soon became my life; it’s the first thing I think of in the morning and the last thing I think of before I go to sleep. My advice to any young women who are thinking of starting a new business is: ‘you have to want it for the right reasons, you can’t be forced into this passion as it’s a 24/7 role.’
How many people are involved in the company and what are their roles?
The business operation is run by me, but as the success of Ruby has grown the wider work force has grown with it. The company now employs a variety of self-employed team members who all bring different skillsets to the work force.
We have a show sales team who are on the road attending over 60 major events a year such as Clothes Show Live, beauty trade shows, and shopping centres.
The second sales team looks after the wholesale market, visiting small businesses within the beauty industry to introduce the company and presenting how our retail products can improve their income.
As support on the marketing side of the business I work with a team of specialists in key areas to include marketing planning, social media support, brand development, design and web development.
If you could start over with the business, would you do anything differently?
I can honestly say that there is nothing I would do differently, we are moving in the right direction and the feedback we receive is really positive. The weaknesses that arise within the company we learn from and they help us to grow stronger as a brand. The LA Sheer Contour Palette was launched in 2015 and achieved great success, leaving me with one key question in my head: what will we launch next?
What is the hardest challenge you have faced since you started the company?
Starting your own business for the first time is always going to be a massive challenge as you have to cover every job role. I am are constantly learning new things as the market and business landscape changes, plus I have to juggle everything from packing the products to the finances, staff, marketing and forward planning.
I think the hardest part is facing the unexpected, like anything in life you hit hurdles that you weren’t expecting; how you deal with these situations determines your success moving forward.
My advice would be: ‘don’t shy away from a problem, face it and you will come out the other side; anything is possible.’
Tell us one fact about you that people wouldn’t know?
Working within the beauty industry influences your everyday look as people often judge you on how you present yourself and buy into your appearance. Most people would think this is how I look all the time, but mid-week I love to relax in my lounge-wear, with my hair in a bun and no makeup on.
2016 is here, where do you plan on taking the brand? In future, how do you plan on expanding the company?
The plan for 2016 is to keep expanding in every way possible, source new products to add to our collection, break into new markets, hopefully find a placement in a department store, and create more brand awareness within the UK and globally. We have recently invested in our website, product and marketing so we would now like to start to push the brand more online, through social media channels so that we can get into the wider online marketplace.
Work can be stressful but I wouldn't have it any other way. When you have a company that can offer you endless opportunities the only way to move forward is to pursue every angle possible. Who knows what will come my way?
To date, what has been the highlight since launching?
To date the highlight of Ruby Cosmetics has to be the launch in Canada. We came across a company called Unidem Sales that showed great interest in the Ruby products. At first I was overwhelmed and couldn't believe a company of that size and experience saw potential in what I had started off as a very small and simple concept. The opportunities that Unidem Sales could offer to Ruby were mind blowing, they had the experience of launching new products, connections with other retailers in the industry such as Costco, shopping channels, beauty wholesalers and much more. Ruby Canada is also looking to launch the LA Sheer Contour kit, which would give us another product in a huge market. Working alongside them has been a real pleasure.
Three beauty products you can't leave the house without?
This is an easy question for me, it would have to be my red Ruby lip gloss, the LA Sheer Contour Palette - as it has a little mirror in so I can top up my blusher throughout the day - and a hair brush!
My style at work is reflected through three key areas: my clothes, my makeup, and my hair. I like to start everyday with a positive attitude and I genuinely believe if you look good you feel good.
Most memorable piece of advice given to you?
I think there has never been a truer word spoken than: ‘don’t do anything you can’t do yourself’
This was definitely more significant in the start up of my business. Staff come and go, some have a good work ethic and others not so much, but the one person you can always rely on is yourself. Under any circumstance you know you will be there, you will present your business in the best way possible, and you will achieve the results you are working for.
Oh, my guilty pleasure would have to be country and western music. All my friends laugh at me when I have it on in the car so it’s definitely something I like to listen to when I'm relaxing alone.
Did you always know that you would be a #Girlboss one day?
Since a young age I always liked the finer things in life and growing up I was always inspired by how the people I met along the way had achieved a great lifestyle. People start off their working career to earn money but once you start your own business it becomes so much more then that, money is just one small area and the success of your business is what drives you to your next goal.
I never doubted myself as a #Girlboss and always knew that one day I would run my own company, as mentioned previously I thrive on both stress and success and will do whatever it takes to achieve my Ruby Cosmetics empire.
What one #Girlboss activity do you wish you could get better at?
I feel as a whole my business is strong and I have a solid work force. However, nobody is perfect and everyone has areas in which they can improve. My focus is to keep learning from my mistakes, turn every negative into a positive and in the long run this will help me improve as a #Girlboss.
For people aspiring to run their own company, what advice would you give?
It wouldn’t be advice, so much as asking the question: ‘why do you want this?’ I think if the answer comes from the heart and is something you are passionate about anybody can do it.
On the flip side I think you have to understand that you are only ever going to get out what you put in so with hard work will come success. Running your own company is a full time job; my working day does not finish at 5 o’clock it finishes when everything that needs doing is done.
Where can people find out more?
- twitter: @Rubycosmetics
- Instagram: RubycosmeticsUK
- Facebook: Ruby cosmetics UK
How has your tenancy at Business First, Blackpool, helped Ruby Cosmetics to grow and succeed?
After starting a small business by working from home, Ruby Cosmetics soon expanded, as the business expanded the need for a more professional work space became a more pronounced.
After searching the local area and viewing several offices, Business First Blackpool seemed the ideal location. It offered all the amenities I was looking for, including free car parking, easy access, board rooms, and a professional environment.
Since moving into business first I have benefited from the extra space, the opportunity to interact with other businesses, and the help of the centre manager, Hannah, who has introduced me to contacts she had met at networking events; which has helped me to grow my business.
My experience at Business First has been wholly positive, and I would definitely recommend this centre to any other young entrepreneurs who are looking to improve their working environment and grow their business.