Lessons Learned: 35 Years in Beauty
27/03/2014 by The Red Tree
Following the success of The Beauty Symposium, held this week at Making Cosmetics in Coventry, we hear from Founder and CEO of The Red Tree Stirling Murray who shares some of his most significant lessons learned after 35 years in the beauty industry.
Rather than write on a particular issue affecting the beauty industry I thought I’d mention some lessons I’ve learnt after 35 years (yikes!) in beauty.
1. I have always been a great advocate of business coaching both in my corporate career and in running my own business. However there comes a point when you realise that the answer to a question or the solution to a problem can only come from within. No amount of external help will provide the answer. We have an aggressive growth plan for 2014. I sought advice on how we might achieve that from my networks, joined a business club, and employed a business coach – all in the month of January! None asked the right questions so none provided the right answers. And then very simply the answer came to me on how we might achieve our goals. Does that mean that all the meetings were of no value, or did they provide a greater focus for my thinking? Who knows? What I have learnt is that you can’t expect someone else to answer a question that with your accumulated experience and time you should be able to answer yourself.
2. Everything takes longer then you expect. The reality is that no matter how well planned you need to plan in more time. You want to launch in 12 months – plan 15! Completing an acquisition – double the length of time you expect!
3. Always make sure that others understand clearly what your business is about. It is never enough that you know. The articulation of what your business or brand is about, what function it fills, what it does, has to be so clearly understood that others – your unpaid and very powerful advocates – can spread your message with ease.
A running conversation I had with an investment fund was focussed purely on business but it became clear during our sixth conversation over the course of 2 years that we had both been talking at tangents. They hadn’t understood how we might help their client’s business. No one else to blame but me!! What was important is that they hadn’t understood what we do and as a consequence couldn’t explain it to others. Take a look at skincare brands – do you really understand the messages on front of pack, are the benefits in using the product clear, is the terminology confusing and alienating? On my many store visits I pick up beauty brands that I just don’t get! It’s irrelevant that I may not be the brands target market – if I only understood what it does I could be its greatest advocate!
4. Keep learning. The act of learning, of gaining knowledge of unfamiliar things is an activity that should never cease. By having a learning attitude you gain positively from mistakes, and are willing to dig deep to put into practice learnings from the past. It’s an attitude that should pervade everything. There are always new ways of doing things, different ways to resolve problems and new insights to gain from others. And that which didn’t work in the past may work now because the time or circumstances are different. Learning for me means listening, reading, watching and talking and should not be restricted to business only – it should form part of the structure of your normal life. I count myself lucky to work in the beauty industry where the sheer dynamism and variety of the business means I have the opportunity to learn every day.
For more information on The Beauty Symposium or
The Red Tree, contact Stirling on +44 (0)844 858 8860 or email email@example.com.
The Red Tree is the UK’s leading international beauty brand consultancy and a powerhouse of ideas, insight and inspiration. For an informal discussion on how we might help you, please contact us.
Middle East Beauty Hub
Explore our series of articles uncovering the intersection of tradition, innovation, and regulation within the nuanced Middle Eastern beauty markets.
Female Founders: The Lip Gloss Gap
Our series of articles highlighting how the UK beauty industry plays a vital part in closing the female fundraising gap.
New to the beauty industry? Our Founder Hub series brings together an array of articles covering topics from the costs of starting a new brand, to our recommended branding agencies.
Meet The Team
Get to know each of The Red Tree team members with our interview series. From our favourite campaigns to tips on how to enter the beauty industry.
Our series of articles exploring our fitness test for beauty brands. The unique RaceFit™ questionnaire allows you to quickly review the 7 building blocks crucial to brand success.
The Beauty Accelerator™
Read our series of articles focusing on The Beauty Accelerator™, which sees one emerging independent beauty brand receive equity investment plus the knowledge and expertise of The Red Tree.
Is RaceFit™ for me?
Is RaceFit™ right for my brand?
RaceFit™ assessment is beneficial to any brand at any stage of their journey. If you are: - A start up looking for direction and guidance - An established brand seeking an overall ‘health check’ - A brand in crisis urgently seeking direction on priorities - An international brand looking to expand into the UK market - A brand ready to take their ‘next step’ looking for guidance in preparation for growth, international expansion or expanding distribution then RaceFit™ is for you!
What if I am unsure of how to answer a question?
You should answer honestly and instinctively. Very often your initial response will be the most accurate. If you don’t understand a question, or are having difficulty knowing how to answer questions please do get in touch.Contact Us
I am based outside of the UK, can I complete RaceFit™?
Yes, the RaceFit™ self-assessment programme is entirely virtual so you can get started straight away, no matter where in the world you are.
Any company entering The Beauty Accelerator™ competition must be based and registered in the UK.
The scheme by which investment into the winning brand will be made is the Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme (SEIS). You must be eligible for SEIS to enter The Beauty Accelerator but you do not need to be registered for SEIS. You can be in the process of applying for SEIS and receiving Advanced Assurance from HMRC, which is free of charge to obtain and certifies to investors that the criteria necessary to qualify for SEIS have been met by the company at the time of the application. You do however need to be SEIS registered at the point of investment.Click here For further information about SEIS
As is the case with all equity investments, the winning brand must be willing to provide equity stakes for both SFC Capital and The Red Tree. In addition, the winning brand might be required to pay a monthly fee for the duration of the 12 month period of assistance from The Red Tree. The size of the equity stakes for both SFC Capital and The Red Tree are unknown at this stage and will be based on the valuation of the business at the time of investment. The value of the monthly fee to The Red Tree will be determined by the scope of work required by The Red Tree and will be agreed in consultation with the winning brand. The equity stake, monthly fee and scope of work will be discussed in further detail with short listed brands during the interview stage.
Brands that applied for The Beauty Accelerator™ 2022 can apply for The Beauty Accelerator™ 2024.
Applicant brands should ideally have proof of concept – the business should ideally be in operation with at least one product currently retailing on the market, an existing website in operation and a number of months of trading.
Under exceptional circumstances, brands that are at concept stage will be considered.
There should be a team in place or a willingness to take on a co-founder at an early stage.
A business plan must be in place and submitted as part of your application to demonstrate the revenue that can be delivered.
The business should not be valued at more than £1,000,000.
All R&D should be completed as funds invested will only be used for marketing and commercial activity.
If you are short listed, you must be available to attend the virtual shortlist interview. It is likely that short listed brands will be required to attend more than one virtual interview.
If you are a Finalist, you must be able to attend The Beauty Accelerator™ Final, either virtually or in-person.
You cannot apply for or already be in the process of applying for another accelerator or incubator during the period December 2023 to December 2024.
If you are selected as a finalist, and if you go on to win The Beauty Accelerator™, you must agree to exposure of you and your brand through The Red Tree’s, SFC Capital’s and Freeths online and social channels and a possible marketing campaign.
Confirmation of the winning brand is subject to SEIS eligibility confirmation, agreement on equity stake and The Red Tree fee, and completion of due diligence.
"*" indicates required fields