Student Nannies’ Career College: Ten tips to creating your own beauty brand
Posted on 23.10.2018

Fancy starting a best-selling beauty brand from your kitchen table? This week Rebecca Hopkins, who Co-founded Balance Me with her sister Clare, reveals how they did it. Their natural beauty and skincare range, Balance Me, blossomed at Rebecca’s kitchen table (literally!)  over a sisterly chat and a quest to address work/life balance and find natural, solutions‐driven skincare that worked. The brand is award-winning and stocked in major UK retailers including John Lewis, Waitrose and Ocado. (NOTE FROM ED: the products all smell incredible too!)

1.Tell us a bit about your job, what the average day looks like and what’s involved…
No one day is the same. I can be at the office for a meeting with the marketing or creative team in the morning and then presenting to a media owner or networking with beauty peers in the afternoon. I am the official spokesperson for the brand, along with my sister and co-founder Clare so we are often required to speak at events or engage with our customers in person or on social media. I love the variety and it is what drives my passion and helps me stay creative and in touch with our customers’ needs. In order to stay mobile and move about town efficiently I drive a Vespa. I have done for years and wouldn’t be without it in London!

2. How did you get your first job in this industry and what tips would you give to students for routes in?
I was given the opportunity to work for L’Oréal at their HQ in Paris during the third year of my French degree and it was where my passion for beauty was born. If you have a real passion for something then follow it. See below in Q3 for my tips on routes in!

Rebecca spent her third year at university at the L’Oreal Paris HQ

3. What one piece of advice would you give to someone wishing to forge a career in the beauty industry?
Basically show you have a real passion for beauty and learn as much as possible while you are still studying as it will help you navigate your way around the job market when the time is right. It also demonstrates your passion to employers like me. Try to secure a work placement in a beauty business (through family, friends, school, university contacts or by just approaching the ones you are interested in), or selling in a beauty retail environment, or in the beauty department of a magazine/e-zine/website or start a blog and build a social media profile.
What advice would you give to someone starting out a career in beauty?
Stay informed. Consume as much knowledge and media as possible about what is driving the market. Try as many products as possible. Join associations in the industry and follow industry channels e.g. @britbeautycouncil @cew_uk

4. Who was the one person who had the most influence on your career to date?
Both my sister and co-founder Clare, fellow female beauty entrepreneurs and beauty journalists who I consider friends as well as peers. It is a very collaborative industry and we always share ideas and collaborate.

5. Considering all the people you’ve met in your field, what personal attributes are essential for success?

Financial acumen. The best piece of advice that I’ve been given is ‘Cash is king’. Surround yourself with a positive and complementary team who have a different skill set and understand where you are in your business journey as it takes time to establish a brand. And celebrate success.

6. What do you wish you’d known (but didn’t) when you first contemplated this career?
That I would have to learn a multitude of skills to survive, some of which I would have preferred to steer clear of. But that is the joy of running your own business.

7. What is the best bit of career advice you ever received?
Make sure you are following a passion and you can make money. I’ll say it again, cash is king! Get help and support from your family and friends. Play to your own strengths and surround yourself with people who have complimentary skills.

8. What is your career highlight to date?
There have been many moments that we remind ourselves of when things don’t always go according to plan and winning awards is always a highlight. In 2013 the cosmetic industry awarded us ‘Best British Brand’ and last year we won an ‘A’ list Beauty Directors Award from Woman & Home magazine and actress Helen McCrory told the audience that she was already a fan of our brand, loved how beautiful our products smelt and that she has been buying our products for herself and her family for quite some time! It is moments like these that we cherish. On a completely different note, when Sainsbury’s contacted us at the beginning of last year and asked to take us into over 500 of their stores we took a moment to pinch ourselves as well!

Actress Helen McCrory (pictured with husband Damian Lewis) is a Balance Me fan

9. What are the best and worst things about your job?
Being in control of my own destiny and pushing the boundaries on what is possible in natural skincare. Researching and developing really innovative products that I want to use on myself, family and friends. Working with my sister and a team who I really value and trust.
There are not enough hours in the day so the juggling can be stressful as there are real pulls on my time but I have learnt to say ‘no’ over the years and also to delegate.

10. What do you think the industry will look like in the next ten years and what skills do you think graduates will need to stay ahead of the game?
It is such a fast-paced industry and has change hugely over the last five years in particular as new media, selling channels, retailers and international brands flood the market place. But it is so exciting and competition is healthy so we shouldn’t see this as a negative. Graduates need to stay really informed, extremely well connected, demonstrate their passion for beauty and have a real ‘can do’ and positive attitude to stand out from the crowd .

Rebecca’s CV
French at Nottingham University 1990-1994 (third year placement with L’Oreal, Paris in their International Marketing Division)
Institute of Marketing Diploma 1995
Cohn and Wolfe, Nexus PR, Green Moon PR between 1994-1998
L’Oreal Luxury Products Division 1999-2002
Retrained as a reflexologist (while still working) 2001
Co-founded Balance Being with younger sister, Clare September 2002 – 2005
Co-founded Balance Me with Clare April 2005- present day

Student Nannies’ Career College: Ten tips to creating your own beauty brand