Laura Rudoe is the Founder and CEO of Good Ventures – an ethical development company with the mission to create new organic personal care brands that are a force for good.
Can you tell us a little about your background and the company?
I am a former management consultant and economics graduate with an MBA from Harvard Business School. When I left Harvard I wanted to help create a business with a win-win: where we would focus both on doing well financially but also doing good in society. I was lucky enough to have an opportunity at that point to join a natural skincare start-up called NUDE that Bono was setting up and that’s how I ended up in the cosmetics industry. I realised I loved working in natural beauty as it joined together several interests of mine: sustainability, skin health and wellness and I also loved working in a small start-up. In 2008 I decided to set up my own development company Good Ventures to create sustainable and organic beauty brands. The first brand we launched was Evolve Organic Beauty in 2009 with the aim of making organic beauty desirable, affordable and accessible to a wider audience. It’s a modern apothecary-style brand for skin, body and hair. 14 years on, Evolve is now one of the leading sustainable organic and ethical beauty brands in the UK and we ship to 45 countries worldwide from our eco-studio in Hertfordshire where we source the most sustainably and clinically proven effective ingredients to make the products and are proud to have won over 100 industry awards.
where we make all of our products by hand from the finest organic oils and butters and natural actives.
How did the idea come to you for the company?
Evolve is all about small steps toward something better and I wanted to create a range that would make it easier for people to be healthier, greener and live a little better in their everyday lives.
How did you achieve awareness?
With Evolve we spent the first six years as a very tiny business so brand awareness grew gradually over a long period of time with word of mouth. When we launched social media wasn’t really a thing so we used PR and marketing to get press mentions and drive awareness.
How have you been able to gain funding and grow?
We had an initial seed investment from my parents of £60,000 and we also borrowed an enterprise finance guarantee loan from HSBC a couple of years in. Early on I also worked as a consultant to generate money which was reinvested into the business. I have never raised money from external investors.
What are the key successes?
I think the key successes are creating a profitable £4M business without ever raising capital, becoming one of the leading sustainable organic and ethical brands in the UK and exporting 50% of what we sell overseas
What were/are the challenges and how have you overcome these?
One of the main challenges early on was achieving “escape velocity “! When you are a very small business it is very difficult to have enough time to do everything you need to do but you don’t have enough money to employ someone to help you! As soon as you can find that first key hire you can then leverage your time and those first few people who joined Good Ventures were critical to grow the business.
One of the key success factors was getting the packaging and positioning of the products right. Early on, our products were packaged in recycled milk bottle plastic. This was very green but it didn’t look very premium. Once we aligned the look of our products with what our customers were looking for, growth became a lot easier
In 2015 when we brought production in-house, we had to learn how to ship products successfully, make products safely as well as learn how to formulate our own products. This presented a lot of new challenges, but we managed to overcome them one by one.
What are your plans now/for the future?
Our mission is to go beyond sustainability and actually become regenerative: to be better than just less bad and actually become net positive for the planet as well as for people.
We still see a lot of growth opportunities for Evolve Organic Beauty around the world and so we want to continue to grow the brand so that we can help customers in every country live a little healthier, greener and better in their everyday lives. We also want to make sure we have a product to suit every person’s skin and we are creating innovative formulas such as water free and powder-based products to continue to progress with our sustainable mission.
What would you like to share with others to encourage them to start their own entrepreneurship journey?
Do what you love! Find your passion and follow it. Then every day you get up and go to work it’s a pleasure.
Can you share your top tips for entrepreneurial success?
Remember that success doesn’t happen overnight. I spent six years refining our business model and packaging before the business started growing. This wasn’t wasted though: it’s when we learned everything we know about how to set up our own production studio.
Relationships matter: we have long-term relationships with our employees, customers and our suppliers and we treat them like family. I think this is an ethical way to do good business but it’s also just good business sense
Believe in your brand – there will be ups and downs but you need to keep true to and stick to your ‘why’.
Work with people you get on with and who share the same passion for your brand
Who are the 5 people who inspire you the most and why?
- My Romanian grandmother Sabina, who inspired me to create my brand as she would mix natural skin treatments in our kitchen
- My mother Michaela Howard, who inspired me to set up my own business and showed me the value of hard work
- I’m very inspired by Kresse Wesling from the ethical brand Elvis and Kresse. She has an amazing brand that creates luggage out of recycled firehose and she is also creating a regenerative vineyard in Kent. She is an inspiration to everyone in the sustainable sector!
- I’m a big believer in energy medicine and wellness and one of my heroes is Donna Eden, who can actually see the energy flowing around the body!
- My homoeopath Jane Waters from the Alternative Centre: I’ve had skin problems for most in my life and I’ve been seeing her for half of my life. My biggest fear is that she will retire!
What are your favourite inspirational /motivational quotes?
Life is about making an impact, not making an income. –Kevin Kruse
Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value. –Albert Einstein
I am not a product of my circumstances. I am a product of my decisions. –Stephen Covey
What are your Instagram, Facebook and LinkedIn social handles and also website links so our readers can connect with you?
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