Trend Watch: Interview with Millie Kendal, Co-Founder, BeautyMART and BRANDstand
BeautyMART’s recent trans-seasonal beauty show gave a sneak peek into innovative beauty concepts about to debut in the UK. It was also an opportunity for me to catch up with its co-founder Millie Kendall MBE, to find out more about what shapes her vision of beauty.
Do you get loads of brands approaching you and how do you and your business partner, Anna-Marie Solewij, select what goes on sale in BeautyMART?
We do get a lot of brands approaching us. But we also seek out things we like. This can be anything from the kooky LA brand House of Intuition that is spiritual and magical, to Fairy Drops, a Japanese mascara.
We also know a lot of people in the industry so you can imagine we get people calling all the time.
All the talk recently has been about Korean beauty. I see you have a section for Californian Beauty and Tokyo Pitstop on the website. Why are these two regions worthy of their own section?
How funny that I mentioned a Cali brand and Japanese brand in the previous question’s answer. I grew up in LA and worked for a Japanese company for many years before creating my own brand.We have some great products from both regions.
What do you see as truly ground-breaking?
I tend to find a lot of “New” trends have been done before, especially in make-up. I am a bit jaded, I don’t think product has really been ground-breaking of late.
I do think retail has changed and this is massive. Retail is becoming faster and more adaptable and finally retailers are realising beauty doesn’t need to be sold in a brand environment, and that women don’t all shop from one brand.
Concepts are ground breaking: Charlotte Tilbury’s 'get the look', Beauty Boxes like Birchbox, Fabled by Marie Claire partnering with Ocado, The Estee Edit with Kendall Jenner. All are really good ideas.
What are your favourite new innovations?
Cushion Foundations are great, volumising fibres in mascara, long lasting and non-drying liquid lip colours. Also crystals being used in beauty products. I love the idea of metals being harnessed for their healing properties and love ingestible beauty (drinks and pills).
After your Shoreditch pop up, do you have plans for other pop-ups or an expansion of BeautyMART in retail?
We've just opened in Somerset House with an edit for The Hair by Sam McKnight exhibition and we have the TopShop boutique which is a really strong location for us.
What is BRANDstand and how did the concept come into being?
BRANDstand grew organically from both of our independent careers and combined knowledge. Anna-Marie has consulted for many brands since leaving Vogue. I, of course, have developed and marketed beauty brands including Ruby&Millie make-up.
We found that a lot of brands approaching us to be included in our BeautyMART offer weren’t quite ready to penetrate a retail environment with real impact or we felt they would be best sold in another retailer. So we started giving advice and very soon these brands wanted more and more help.
What kind of consultancy do you offer brands?
In some cases we work with brands on marketing and messaging, altering how they present themselves to the press and the consumer. We also work on redesigns and brands with great formulas but unattractive pack design.
We can also offer PR services and have a boutique PR company. Additionally, we have a sales team who help brands secure retailers.
What does your current portfolio consist of?
We are currently working with 3 skincare brands, a haircare brand, a brand of hair extensions, 3 body care brands and a couple of larger organisations in the marketing sector looking for support from industry experts. We have around 15 PR clients.
Brands we work with are: YUBE, Prismologie, Mai Couture, Magic Mirror, Oilixia, Rosebud Salve, Stiks, Lauren Napier, Skin Design London, GLO&RAY, FairyDrops, EX1, Barely Cosmetics.
What are the criteria you employ when you represent new brands?
I have to like the founder and think the brand has the opportunity to grow. I like to think my efforts will pay off for both the brand and my company, so I need to look at longevity over short-lived relationships.
How do you help unfamiliar niche brands break into the UK market?
Most of the brands we have worked with have been unfamiliar at some point. It is really individual. Some brands need PR exposure, some need blogger outreach, some need better looking pack design or a concept that breaks through.
It really depends on the brand, the product, the founder and what they have to offer. We offer a very reasonable PR service for small brands that don’t have a large budget.
It is vital to me to have PR representation, even more so with the internet. How is anyone going to find you online if you can’t tell people where you are?