Some (Unsolicited) Advice From A Skincare Founder
Zoë Foster Blake
Back in 2013, before TikTok pasta and Covid, I set out with a clear goal: to make skin care uncomplicated. To make people feel confident and competent looking after their skin, and think of skincare as fun, not an obligation. I wanted to make simple, effective essentials that were free from confusing language, faux-science, and unnecessary ingredients.
After many years working in the beauty industry I knew which ingredients and products worked, and what consumers actually wanted and used. A wildly privileged position to be in. There were many skin care products I loved and which gave fantastic results, of course. But I’d always felt there were gaps… Some products were uncool and clunky to apply but really worked. Some felt and smelled beautiful, but were full of heavy silicones. Some had two great ingredients for a specific skin problem, but lacked the all-important third. I wondered: what if I could make a range that somehow satisfied all my perfectionist whims?
The result was a selection of effective, reliable, affordable and very cute products. A tight edit of the skin care essentials that I wanted to use daily. The stuff I would always pack on a trip, (despite any varying and extreme climates), that I would want to rave to my friends about; products that would never let me down, and I could use for a lifetime.
Having been a beauty director at both mass and luxury titles I had a deep and expansive insight into products and ingredients, but being a beauty blogger and author offered me direct insight into the consumer, specifically her frustrations with skin care. It was my job (and joy!) to connect these two worlds for so long that I realised there was a gaping hole for something uncomplicated, effective, and really FUN in the skincare aisle. The consumer needed some hand-holding. She was confused and wasting her money. I knew I could help.
When Go-To started gaining traction, and getting positive customer feedback, I started to feel the tingle of excitement that comes when you know you’re doing good work, and you have an outstanding team who really ‘get it.’ We put people, product and purpose first, and that informs everything we do.
We’re up to 13 products, (with many more on the way) have two additional ranges, Bro-To and Gro-To, we’re stocked in Mecca and all over the US, but oh, we have so much more we wanna do...
Fancy starting your own brand? Being the change you seek to see in the world? GREAT! Do it! Here’s some unsolicited advice as you set off.
Do what you want.
I mean this in a literal sense: make or do a thing that you personally believe is missing from the world or market, but which you would like to exist, and which you believe other people will see value in. No need to reinvent the wheel. But you do have to offer people something they need, and will use. Know your audience, and think like them. Better yet: be them! (I make all Go-To products cos I want to use them.)
Do fewer things better.
If you start trying to please everyone, and make everything, and be all things to everyone, and satisfy everyone who has a complaint by changing your offering, you’ll lose your way. You’ll become average. So stay specific, keep your USP, do the original thing you set out to do. A smaller amount of loyal, dedicated fans is better than a larger number of indifferent, fickle ones.
Honour your customer.
Respect them. Help them. Have fun with them. Make useful things for them. Make them feel successful by choosing you. They are trusting you with their money when there are millions of other places they could spend it. It’s a big responsibility and it must be taken seriously. When a Go-To customer gets in touch with us to say Go-To is working, that thrills and enthuses me. Never take that loyalty, respect or relationship for granted.
Do the best you can, right now.
Big exciting, audacious goals can be great fuel. But keep your head and your heart in the present. Write that email to the best of your ability. Spend time with new hires to make sure they understand the culture of the company. Be the most prepared person in the meeting. Take time to reply to that frustrated customer. It’s all the little things along the way that make the big things happen. That sounds like a terrible quote on the front of a diary, but it’s true.
Ignore your competitors.
If you’re always looking at your competitors, you will end up paralysed with insecurity and competitiveness: the natural enemies of creativity and good work. I do and make what feels right to me and Go-To at that time, and I optimistically (‘naively’) trust that it will work. Instinct counts, especially in business.