Sue Carroll is the CEO and founder of Notting Hill’s Young LDN, whose mission to champion youth and inspire confidence in any age and race, one treatment at a time, has made it a multi award-winning skincare and wellness destination. Relaxed, informal, yet highly-effective, Young LDN has also recently opened its first international location at Caesars Palace in Dubai, with plans to expand into several other hotels within the coming years.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I previously worked as a Senior Speech Therapist back in Cape Town before moving to the UK and having my children who were the inspiration behind Young LDN. I had to learn a lot and it was not an overnight process. My son is now twenty and Young LDN opened at the end of 2018. I am very knowledgeable now, but of course, I don’t perform any of the treatments – I call myself the tea lady!
Young LDN is now a leading skincare and beauty destination. I was searching for a destination to help my own children with their skin concerns. Now it is a studio where everyone from teenagers to young adults to skincare fanatics in their 40’s and 50’s can feel comfortable.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
My ‘lightbulb’ moment was after spending months and months taking my teenage son to various dermatologists and skincare specialists for his hormonal acne, failing to find a place that was in the middle of somewhere being ‘young’, but also being able to give teens the advice they needed on how to look after their skin. This led to my idea to create one of the fastest growing beauty concepts in the market.
How did you achieve awareness?
We have been working with a specialist PR agency who ensure we are featured in all relevant articles relating to skincare, beauty and wellness, positioning Young LDN as leaders in our field of expertise. Our expert technicians give continual expert led advice and tips to the media which stand out, above the rest.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
I have been tremendously lucky to have private funders who have been with me every step of the way. They have believed in me and given me the strength and backing to take risks and grow. I have also been incredibly fortunate to have had a very strong team led by our senior aestheticians Abby and Sara. However, a lot of our most recent growth can be owed to our relationship with Irina Titze of RTC Sports, who has been a key figure in driving our international expansion into hotels across the world.
What are the key successes?
I believe that the key success that we have thus far enjoyed, and the one that we hope to maintain long into the future, is the unbelievably positive engagement that our customers have had with our concept and service. We have (to our knowledge) one of the top rated medical spas in London by number of five star Google reviews, and this gives us a organically driven metric that allows us to continuously improve our service. It is only from learning what our clients want, from their feedback and from their ever-evolving needs, that we have been able to ensure that our service stands out in an increasingly saturated market. Furthermore, it has enabled us, as a young business that has only had one location for the vast majority of its existence, to stand out as a service that major luxury brands (like Caesars Palace in Dubai, where we have just opened our second location) can feel comfortable doing business with. As the business continues to grow, with many other locations planned internationally, we will always do our upmost to ensure that Young LDN offers the best experience to our customers it can, and it is from this principle on which we hinge our future success.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
I was dyslexic as a child so learning to read and keeping up in class was a huge challenge of mine. I think it was personal achievement that I was accepted on my own academic merit to a tough University Course, having received no help over my school life. I became a speech therapist because of this, and why Young LDN I so important to me. We all lose confidence when we are young in so many ways, and it isn’t fair when on top of all these challenges your skin is bad and making you feel pretty awful.
For the salon, staffing is a continuous challenge especially since Brexit and changing work patterns since Covid. Covid in itself was our biggest challenge and we still need to fully recover from this and the impact of long closures on a new business.
What are your plans now/for the future?
In addition to our successful Notting Hill studio here in the UK, we have just opened our first overseas salon in the Ceasar’s Palace hotel in Dubai. We intend to grow Young LDN across the globe and have some exciting new ventures in the pipeline with a whole host of world-leading brands. The website has developed significantly over lockdown, and we intend to keep the momentum and grow our e-commerce even further.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Not to be so scared and to be less risk averse. I have not done things because I was fearful, and I look back and wonder where I would be if I had been brave enough to face the challenge. I am not recommending being foolish but sometimes take a risk even if you are scared. It is not worth looking back and wondering what would have happened – just give it a try! Surround yourself with people whom you like, who know more than you and who believe in what you are doing then go out there and have fun!
Can you share you top tips for entrepreneurial success?
I must admit that I might sound cliche in giving these tips, but I stand by them nonetheless. In order to be successful in anything, whether it be business, politics, or any other field, you have to realise that if you could do it all yourself, then you would. However, it is physically impossible for you to do everything, let alone be the best person suited to the task of doing everything. Therefore, you must choose the people who work for you well, but you must also allow for them to be given the opportunities they need to thrive and grow. If people are treated poorly, and do not see the values of the brand in their working life, then they simply will not be the brand ambassadors you need. It is only by creating an empowering, professional yet empathetic working culture that you create a worthwhile experience for your clients, and it is only by having the best experience offering for your clients that you can be successful.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
Out of the five people who inspire me the most, I think I can safely say that three of them are the other members of my family. My husband has, for nearly all his life, wedded an entrepreneurial zeal with a near-religious need to do good, and has been very successful in doing so. He has given me the confidence to push forward in my work when I have been disheartened.
My daughter has always inspired me with her single-minded determination to do her very best, and while she can be frustrating, I have always found in her a most patient and loving confidant.
My son inspires me everyday – it is in him that I initially found the inspiration for Young LDN, as he suffered from acne when he began puberty. He has continued to be involved in the growth of the business to this very day.
Alongside my family, I find myself also inspired by the example of two very prominent South Africans, Archbishop Desmond Tutu, and Elon Musk. Armed with a beautiful sense of empathy and compassion, but strong in his convictions and resolute in his moral outlook, Archbishop Tutu showed the world that the oppressed can forgive their oppressors, even in the face of all the hardship that not only he, but his constituents experienced at the hands of the apartheid regime.
Alongside him, I place Elon Musk, but not because I believe in his managerial style (indeed, I vehemently disagree with it). Rather, I find myself inspired by his ability to realise his visions, no matter who ludicrous or impossible they sound from the outset.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
When I was growing up, I was raised in a actively church-going Christian household. While my faith is perhaps more quiet than it was in my youth, I still find regular comfort in a few biblical passages and hymns, most notably the third verse of the iconic hymn ‘Abide with Me’.
I fear no foe, with Thee at hand to bless
Ills have no weight, and tears no bitterness
Where is death’s sting?
Where, grave, thy victory?
I triumph still, if Thou abide with me
It reminds me that, in the face of adversity, I am never alone. Even though I have and always will have the support of my dear family, and my fantastic team, the comfort that I am not alone even when I lie in bed and worry about the responsibility of providing for my team and those around me is something that constantly reaffirms my faith even when the world seems bleak.
Alongside this more religious element, I also find motivation in, of all things, the song ‘Non-Stop’ from the musical Hamilton, which has a line ‘Why do you write like you’re running out of time?’ I like to answer this question in my head when I question why I am working so hard, with another quote: “I shall sleep when I am dead!” For while “A man [or woman] can do all things if [they] will”, even the best and brightest of us cannot stop our passage on to the “next great adventure”, so we must continue to make the most of life for as long as we can.
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/YoungLDN/
Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/_youngldn/
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