There’s very little that Anna-Marie, former beauty director of Vogue and Millie, Co-Founder of Ruby & Millie cosmetics, don’t know when it comes to beauty. Four years ago, they decided to join forces to change the way people shop for beauty by creating BeautyMART, a unique shopping concept that’s home to an expert edit of the most iconic and highly regarded products around.
Here’s how cups of tea, swearing and humour got Millie and Anna where they are today…
If you were to do it all again, what advice would you give your younger self?
Millie: Remove your makeup before you go to bed, and don’t sleep in your mascara. And of course relax more and worry less.
Anna: Don’t be so shy and don’t be frightened to have an opinion. I think today’s teens have a tough time but they’re bold and confident. I never was.
What are you most proud of?
M: My two children and my MBE.
A: Switching careers – I started in the civil service and my parents didn’t want me to leave as they saw it as a good job for life. I started at Marie Claire as PA to the fashion and beauty directors, doubling my hours and halving my salary but I never looked back – and in time I got the job as beauty director at Vogue. I never thought I’d work there – I’d ruled it out.Oh, and of course launching BeautyMART. When you start a business you risk everything – reputation, money, sanity.
Do you have a saying or mantra that you swear by?
M: No I just swear.
A: I’m not really into mantras – they tend not to apply to all situations but I do believe that bad behaviour eventually gets its just reward.
If you hadn’t ended up working in beauty, what would be your dream career be and why?
M: I wanted to be an accountant. I like numbers. But my dream career? I have it…
A: Fashion was always my first love, so something to do with clothes. Not necessarily designing them. I’d love to be one of the petit mains in a couture house, working with beautiful things, but my needlework is nowhere near good enough.
Who inspires you the most?
M: My Grandmother was a big influence in my life, and she probably had a hand in my career direction. Anna inspires me daily. She is focused and accurate, razor sharp and determined.
A: My mum, she’s 91 this year and can still complete the crossword faster than me. She’s learning Spanish, doing an art history course and travels regularly at home and abroad. I hope that I have her energy and enthusiasm at her age.
What quality do you look for when hiring a new member of your team?
M: Humour, honesty, hard work and determination. I also look for slightly different things depending on the role. A buyer for example needs to be able to have a poker face. And a PR needs to be presentable and friendly.
A: Keenness to learn, positivity, a willingness to join in and get their hands dirty, ability to make a good cup of tea.
What advice would you give someone wanting to emulate your success?
M: Don’t, it is very hard work! Be prepared to work hard and make sacrifices.
A: Try to find the thing that you love so that hard work doesn’t feel like it. I had the most boring job on the planet for 6 years of my life so I know what it’s like to do something dull, repetitive and uncreative, day in, day out.
What mistake do you often see people making when they’re climbing the career ladder?
M: For some reason planning to climb the career ladder seems to be a mistake in itself. Do what you love, do it with passion and you will be successful at it. Also success is different for everyone. I am not money motivated so being disruptive and then being emulated is success to me.
A:Believing that they’re better than they are. A degree means nothing when you’re starting out and yet many graduates are allowed to leave university thinking that they are God’s gift to an employer. It’s not their fault – they are encouraged in this by an education system that’s geared towards keeping unemployment figures down and tuition fees high.
What makes you feel empowered?
M: Our interns, I have been mentoring young women through my work since the 1990’s and I continue to try to do so. I love it and it really motivates me and I like to think I empower them as much as they do me.
A: Being part of the conversation, having an opinion that others listen to.
You’d be lost without…?
M: My phone and my team….
A: I am lost without my dog Pup who died last May age 17. I miss her everyday.