Thursday, 19 May 2011

Marie Claire, Inspire and Mentor Event with Liz Earle

When my Marie Claire email came through, advertising 3 events for anyone interested in getting into the world of fashion, beauty and business, I immediately signed up to the beauty event ‘How to get into Beauty with Liz Earle’. Having always wanted to be a dermatologist and being interested in science, skincare and beauty, as well as being a Liz Earle user intermittently, I was intrigued by it all, and went along somewhat unprepared. 

The ‘inspire and mentor’ programme aims to help women to achieve new heights in business, beauty, fashion, media and science. The option is available to apply for 4 hours of mentoring with one of the 17 women involved in the campaign this year. 

The event ran from 6.30-8, with an initial half hour reception, I wasn’t expecting this and walked in alone feeling very awkward! The room was filled mostly with women and very well dressed and made up at that! Luckily, I found two other women who were alone and ended up striking up a conversation with them about what they did for day jobs, as well as why they signed up to the event. 

I have always secretly thought about my own skin care product, similarly to Liz, it stems from wanting to make something that works for you, and then extending that so that other people can benefit too. If I didn’t have bad skin I don’t think I would have been quite as interested. Although I have nothing planned for the future, I wanted to hear about her background and get a better idea of what is involved, as well as finally see in the flesh this woman I always watched on QVC!

A little before 7pm, everyone migrated toward the meeting room, which was had an intimate and comfortable feel. Helen Russel, online editor of Marie Claire, led the interview, talking through Liz’s history and initial career, as well as how she and her partner set up Liz Earle and expanded it over the years. Liz was lovely, very calm and serene, I have to admit she does annoy me a little on QVC but I guess that is just the sales persona, but in person she truly is lovely and her skin is flawless and has as lovely glow, helped in part by Bobby Browns Shimmer Brick. 

I have to admit, her first words left me a little disheartened. She said something along the lines of always taking opportunities as and when they arise. As much as I believe that, in terms of going after your dreams or trying to build a business as she has, I would like to think I could rely on a little more than luck and good connections to get me started if I chose to. Of course Liz has worked very hard and also has great connections, which leads to another big point she made about maintaining good relationships with people, which I think we can all understand is advantageous, whatever your background.  

Briefly, her background, she initially worked in editorial, and wrote a book about oils, linked to diet I believed. After deciding on setting up a business with her business partner in 1995, they developed the company from mail order (and QVC) to what it is today, having sold it a year ago to Avon, whilst still maintaining independence. 

I found it fascinating to hear about the way ingredients were sourced, with some products requiring the perfect ingredient to be complete (for example their shampoo which took 6 years to produce) and some products being developed from finding a perfect ingredient (for example the firming bust cream). Now more than ever, sustainability of these sources is a key issue, so the great connections and relationship Liz has with growers means that she has the ingredients she needs. 

There were some other great things that Liz said; 'Crawl, Walk, Run', and ‘if it has to be now, it has to be no’ - the idea that you should never rush a decision or a product and that you should always stick to your principals and not succumb to the pressure, ultimately striving to produce something that works and that you are happy with. Surprisingly, she also said something along the lines of not having time frames when initially starting up, and I get the impression that there wasn’t too much planning, linked to taking opportunities as they come. 

She also talked about the importance of valuing and keeping your customer happy. I personally know that Liz Earle are true to this, since I previously had a problem with products I had brought from QVC which were off (unused but pretty old and smelt bad) which they replaced no questioned asked. Liz also made a very good point that beauty is a luxury and about pleasure rather than a necessity, which is why she believed so strongly that the packaging and feel of her products should be like ‘getting a present’ She also introduced me to the word ‘ masstige,’ the middle ground of products between mass market (drug store) and prestige. Personally, I have always considering Liz Earle products as prestige, for me anything more than £10-£15 are!   

Every guest was also given a goody bag containing: this months Marie Claire, which luckily I hadn’t brought yet and contains a Body Shop body butter freebie as a bonus, three Liz Earle skin care products (which turned out to be my favourites!), all presented in a specially designed Marie Claire bag by Reiss.

Overall it was a great event, and I am hoping to attend another related to publishing when the tickets go on sale in June. 

Finally one my favourite things said on the night and one I definitely inspire to achieve;
‘If you do something you love, you never do a days work’

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