Liz McCarthy launched ABeautifulWorld.co.uk to give high-performance natural and organic skincare brands the chance to shine. Now stocking 25 cutting edge names, she talks us through what catches her eye, how to get stocked and her top tips for running an e-commerce beauty site.
Can you introduce us to ABeautifulWorld – what is your background, where did the inspiration come from, when/how did you launch, what makes you special, etc?
ABeautifulWorld is a socially-activated e-commerce site that retails the latest and greatest in organic and natural beauty. My background is beauty marketing; I used to work for Procter & Gamble and Unilever, as well as running my own beauty advertising agency working on brands such as Simple skincare.
I learnt a lot about the chemicals in skincare and, once I started to read the packaging, it was a revelation. I decided to strip all the ‘nasty’ chemicals from my beauty routine, and saw a transformation in my skin. Then I realised that there was a gap in the market. People were selling organic cosmetics online, but I thought they were all a bit ‘knit your own slippers’. My aim was to create ‘Net-a-Porter’ for organic beauty. So it had to be high-end and benefit-led; a tightly-curated collection of luxury, highly effective natural and organic beauty.
After numerous research trips (New York, LA, Japan… so much fun!), we launched in May 2013 with just five brands. We have still retained this select collection, now stocking 25 brands that we believe represent the world’s best in eco-luxe beauty.
We have achieved coverage in The Sunday Times ‘Style’, Vogue, Grazia and Marie Claire, plus received reviews on top beauty blogs such as ‘British Beauty Blogger’, ‘The Sunday Girl’ and ‘Stylonylon’. We have also collaborated with key influencers such as Hemsley + Hemsley, Madeleine Shaw, sponsored London Fashion Week, and created a bi-annual beauty boxes, which went a bit crazy and sold out in just 45 minutes!
But more than this, we have created a brand. ABeautifulWorld is more than just a shop; it is a destination hub for knowledge and expertise – for the world’s latest in organic and natural beauty with features on the products, lifestyle and new trends.
We create a two-way dialogue with our community through social media, online reviews, our loyalty scheme and product recommendations. We are building a strong following, which has only just started to show its full potential. ABeautifulWorld is beauty without compromise.
What is your criteria for the products featured on your website, and how do you source the brands? Can anyone put themselves forward to be stocked?
We have quite a tight criteria for bringing brands onto the site. We look for high-end luxury beauty that shatters the traditional perceptions of the organic and natural beauty category. Products must, first-and-foremost, be highly effective. We are looking for benefit-, rather than ingredient-led, products.
We seek products that are at the scientific cutting edge of natural beauty. Crucially, they have to work. Brands such as BRAD Biophotonic and The Body Deli are great examples of this. All ingredients much be organic or natural, cruelty-free, contain no nasties, and many of our brands are both vegan and gluten-free.
We also love to work with brands with a strong eco-conscious background, such as links to charities/sustainability. They must also look amazing with packaging that reflects the brilliance of the beauty product within. We put all the products through a thorough testing regime before bringing them onto the site. I personally test every product, we also have a team of ‘ABW testers’ who will review each product for a minimum of two weeks. We only bring on brands that represent the world’s best in organic and natural beauty, which we love and we know our customers will love too.
We source brands through a worldwide network of ‘scouts’. I regularly go on international research trips (I’ve recently been to New York and am going to the Far East next year… I totally love this bit of the job). We also get recommendations from the ABeautifulWorld community and a really active part of our website is the ‘recommend a product’ page. We love hearing from new brands. Anyone interested in being listed on our site should email us: email@example.com (quoting ‘As Seen On Green Contact Book’).
Why should brands be looking to move towards a ‘beauty without compromise’ ethos?
We are in the midst of a natural beauty evolution that is rapidly becoming a revolution. Natural and organic beauty products are the fastest growing segment of a global beauty market that is predicted to be worth $15,694M globally by 2020. We have seen huge growth from small producers as far apart as Brooklyn, Palm Springs and Hackney; they are creative and new natural beauty products that look just as good and perform just as well, if not better, than the synthetic legacy products – just with none of the bad stuff. No nasties, no man-made synthetics.
This new approach is already known as ‘Eco-Luxe’. Fuelled by the arrival of the Selfie Generation and facilitated by global e-commerce, it is the future.
Fuelled by the arrival of the Selfie Generation and facilitated by global e-commerce, ‘eco-luxe’ is the future.
Which brands do you find most exciting at the moment for what they’re doing in the natural beauty sector, and why?
The new Eco-Luxe consumer wants high-end natural personal care products. They must be benefit-led, work brilliantly, and look amazing in their homes (and on their phones), all without any of the nasties.
Brands that I believe are killing it in this sector are;
Their serums are made with a bio-fermentation process; this results in concentrated ingredients that can be more easily and deeply absorbed into the skin. For example, the BRAD Radiance Concentrate Serum is right at the cutting edge of anti-ageing beauty technology. It gently promotes cellular turnover, and dramatically improves skin texture and tone without increasing photo-sensitivity.
Key ingredients include Encapsulated Retinol Complex to help promote cell growth and improve skin texture, Ginko Biloba – an antioxidant that stimulates circulation – and Raspberry Seed Oil for hydration. Violet extract guards against UV radiation damage.
BRAD products aren’t 100% organic, but they do use organic and natural ingredients. All products are paraben-, sulfate-, artificial colour- and perfume-free. Packaging is the stunning biophotonic violet glass, which protects the ingredients from damaging rays but allows in beneficial violet light to help preserve the ingredients.
The Body Deli
One of the trends we picked up on when on a research trip to California was that of raw beauty. In SoCal (Southern California), this is a key emerging trend. Put simply, people are applying raw food principles to beauty, taking the same super-foods that deliver intense hits of vitamins and nutrients to our bodies when eaten as food, and reinterpreting them – often using culinary techniques – as cutting edge uber-effective beauty products.
What started as a raw food movement is rapidly becoming a raw beauty revolution…
In fact, what started as a raw food movement is rapidly becoming a raw beauty revolution. The Body Deli is at the forefront of this trend. Their products are hand-made in small batches in the Californian desert, using the raw, organic ingredients to create products that are astonishingly effective. Two that I particularly love from the range are The Blueberry Fusion Micro Scrub and the Crème de la Rose Moisturiser.
Josh Rosebrook takes the natural properties of plants, herbs, nuts, seeds, stems, leaves and flowers and transforms them into his amazing range for skin and hair. All plants in the Josh Rosebrook range are 100% organic, certified-organic or wild-crafted.
A best-seller from his range is the Deep Hydrating Serum, which smoothes, hydrates and brightens the skin’s natural tone. This hydrating serum uses live, active extracts that repair and nourish the skin cells while boosting collagen and elastin production, helping to diminish age lines, repair imperfections and accelerate the skin’s natural turnover.
What top tips would you give entrepreneurs for setting up and running an e-commerce website?
My five top tips would be:
- Be different. It’s a very cluttered market-place out there. Find a unique segment and own it.
- Build a strong team. Work with the very best people. We have the most amazing team at ABW who ensure that we have the very best business.
- Build a community. Through shared passion build a lovely community, listen to it, and use their feedback to build the business. One of the most amazing things about e-commerce is the global reach, and being able to bring together a like-minded online community. We always love to hear from people.
- Don’t forget shop rules/business basics. An e-commerce site is really just an online shop, and the old rules still apply. Present your goods well, keep your shelves stocked. Be polite to your customers and treat them well. Make sure you always have money in the till. Cash flow is the number one reason businesses fail.
- Do what you love. It’s a bit of a cliché but it really does matter. Find something you love and that passion will shine through. Work hard and be nice to people.