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Karen Lee-Thompson

Female Founder Spotlight: Karen Lee-Thompson

6 March 2021|Latest Posts, Meet the Successful Founder

IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Karen Lee-Thompson
IWD Inspirational Female Founders Spotlight: Karen Lee-Thompson

Karen Lee-Thompson BA, CIM, is a Member of the British Beauty Council, Founder of Wǒ & Managing Director, Beauty Consociare Ltd, Nottingham. With 16 years of industry experience working for the world’s leading health and beauty retailer – Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., Karen is an expert in beauty product innovation, development and sourcing. In 2017, Karen left to pursue her dream and founded Beauty Consociare Ltd – a start-up committed to connecting people through beauty and the umbrella which Karen’s all-inclusive skincare brand Wǒ sits beneath. 

Karen is originally from Taiwan, her personal journey from the Far East to the West has been a key factor in developing her unique capability in identifying innovation opportunities in all beauty categories, by combining cross regional product trends and consumer insights. Her passion for beauty products and her knowledge of the global consumer market has supported many brands to achieve sustainable growth throughout her career and continues with the launch of Wǒ.

What are your top 5 tips for entrepreneurial success?

Everyone has something of value to contribute
Wǒ was founded with the desire to be a brand that champions unity and inclusion. When working with fellow entrepreneurs both old and new, I always try to spread the word that inclusion is a philosophy which embraces the idea that everyone you meet has something of value to contribute and that each person has a right to an opinion. This has stood me in great stead throughout my career and I love speaking to people who are outside of my usual beauty circle on all things business; often the most inspiring ideas come when you least expect it. 

The key is to start 
In a world where perfection is at the forefront through social media, we are constantly pushed to compare ourselves, our work and ideas against others often causing the creative drive to be stifled by over analysis paralysis. A great tip I have for any entrepreneur whether at the start of their journey or right in the midst, even if you feel you aren’t ready – be it a product idea or an amazing new campaign – just start!

Be happy with what you have while you wait for what you want
It’s easy for entrepreneurs to always strive for the next best thing, it’s in our nature! But in all the excitement of the new things to come we can get caught up in not being grateful for what’s in front of us. Wǒ is a start-up brand and we’ve come such a long way in the past 6 months with a great mountain to climb still but I try to take 5 minutes each day to take stock and be proud of what we’ve achieved on this journey so far. 

Avoid shiny object syndrome 
As entrepreneurs, we take risks and put it all on the line for a greater reward later. The truth is, most strategies we use in business are not guaranteed to work straightaway. You often find yourself deviating from your original plan and jumping from one idea to the next. It’s important to stick to your plan and focus on finding what works for you, your business and your brand.

Don’t start a business just to make money. Start a business to make a difference.

My family is one of those many living in Britain today that combines different cultures and ethnicities in one union. Married to an English husband, with two mixed race children, my focus is to champion and support people who have similar backgrounds. To be more specific, I founded Wǒ to create innovative beauty solutions that can be shared between my daughters who have contrasting needs and differing physical appearances. I believe that those differences should not stop them from sharing the same experiences as sisters, and for them and others to not feel pressured to be put in a box that they do not identify with. 

Who are the 5 women that inspire you the most in 2021?

My Daughters – Amelia & Harriet

There is nothing like the drive that comes from wanting to provide the right support for your children so they grow up feeling comfortable with themselves in a world that is tough on young women. My brand was founded with them in mind and they are a daily inspiration and motivation for me to continue on this journey of entrepreneurship. 

Kamala Harris 
I imagine her name might feature a lot in similar posts around International Women’s Day and for good reason! She resonates with me as the story of someone who, through great adversity and difficult circumstances, rose to become a role model for people of multicultural backgrounds around the world. Though she has only been in the spotlight for a few years, so far Kamala Harris has made history several times over. This is a great female success story that deserves to be known by all.

Anna Whitehouse

As a fellow mother Anna is the founder of Mother Pukka, a community designed ‘for people who happen to be parents’ which is an amazing space online. Anna also runs Flex Appeal – a campaign for flexible working rights for every woman in the hope that the current figure of 54,000 pregnant women being made redundant every year is reduced which I think is something we can all support! 

Greta Thunberg

As a schoolchild, Greta managed something environmentalists have been trying to achieve for years – she got the whole world’s attention and nothing is as inspiring as that. As a mother, I love that she’s a positive role model for young women and that no matter your age or your size, you can make a difference in this world.

Oprah Winfrey

There are plenty of people who are happy to enjoy their own successes but it is a different level when one is actively looking to connect others together and to create a bigger platform for everyone. Her approach of being caring, compassionate and charitable, Oprah is a great example of continuous selfless efforts in helping others.  

What is your favourite inspirational quote?

 “Beauty begins the moment you decide to be yourself” – Coco Chanel

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