At the age of 65, Tricia Cusden spotted a gap in the market for a new approach to cosmetics for older women. She invested her own savings in a range of specific makeup suitable for more mature eyes, faces and lips. In October 2013, Look Fabulous Forever was launched to 80 friends and family at a party in London. At the time of the launch, two makeup tutorial videos which Tricia had made with two friends acting as models to demonstrate all the LFF products, were uploaded to YouTube. Slowly these videos gained in popularity and were the starting point for the fast growth of the business. There are now over 100 tutorials on YouTube with over 7m views between them. Tricia and the business has been featured in the press many times including Daily Mail, The Sunday Times, BBC Breakfast and The Guardian.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
At the age of 65 and more or less retired as a management training consultant, I decided to start an online makeup brand specifically for older women like me.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
I felt in need of a new challenge in my life and was finding it difficult to find makeup (regardless of brand or price point) which actually flattered my older face. The beauty industry is obsessed with it’s youth market and (in my view) very ageist with it’s ‘anti-ageing’ rhetoric. So I thought that I could challenge that with a company that celebrated the ageing process rather than condemning it.
How did you achieve awareness?
Mostly via Youtube! Counter-intuitively, there were many older women on YT searching for information and videos showing makeup application on an ageing face. I made two videos to promote our Look Fabulous Forever products. The models were actually friends of mine who actually had wrinkles! These initial videos have now had millions of views and they gave us a worldwide audience for our products.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
Yes. We have never had much difficulty in raising investment funds. Initially my two sons-in-law wanted to invest as they could see how well the business was growing. Then we spread the net wider to friends and acquaintances. Finally we did an investment round with more professional angel investors.
What are the key successes?
Growing our customer base with excellent marketing and a consistent and authentic message has been key to our success. We have fans rather than customers who love who we are, the makeup and skincare we produce and the way that we boost their confidence and self-esteem by celebrating who they are.
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
We thought that the pandemic would pose a major challenge as our target audience was the most affected by lockdowns. In fact, thanks to zoom, video content, a closed facebook group called Tricia’s Super Troopers and daily outputs we have kept our audience very engaged and loyal. We have fostered a spirit of kindness and support. As a result, and somewhat surprisingly, we are about to post our best year ever for sales growth.
What are your plans now/for the future?
We are very excited about the future. After eight years we have proven the concept that older women value a different approach to their beauty needs. We are developing new products like a hair care range and consequently we are attracting new customers every day, mostly in the UK but also from as far afield as the USA and Australia.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
I have been entrepreneurial all my working life. I enjoy seeing if I can take an idea and create a viable business from it. My advice to budding entrepreneurs is not to get too bogged down at the planning stage. At some point you will have to take the risk and see what response you get. I did no market research when I decided to launch LFF. I just trusted my gut that, if I created some beautiful products specifically formulated for their needs, other women would love them as much as me!
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Most businesses start with a solution to a problem, although in some cases (eg very high tech) sometimes it’s a solution to a problem people don’t yet know they have. So basic questions like ‘who needs or wants this and how wide is that appeal?’ can help to test whether the idea is viable.Money matters too, because young businesses can go through lots of cash before they generate many returns. So how will you fund this and keep funding it if it grows either slowly or quickly? Also, entrepreneurs may be perfect for the first phase but not so good at running the business in the longer term (when it becomes less exciting). You need to know when to bring others in who can take the business to the next stage.
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
1) My mother because she was a good business woman and financially very astute (she would have been 100 this year had she lived). She brought me up to be a feminist, a word she would not have recognised.
2)A former senior executive where I once worked who gave me the confidence to succeed and also to fail.
3) Judi Dench who is still working, very beautiful whilst being entirely unaltered by facelifts etc and who has a wicked sense of humour
4) Lyse Doucet perhaps because of the current situation with Ukraine. Reporting from war zones is not for the faint-hearted. She is one of very few older women currently risking her life to tell the truth of what is happening.
5) My daughter Anna who is Managing Director of Look Fabulous Forever. Anna joined me within six months of starting LFF and she has grown and matured into what is now a very responsible role. I am so proud of the inspirational leader she has become.
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
Feel the fear and do it anyway.
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