First off, how has your 2021 been?
Honestly? Both incredible and really tough. So many amazing things have happened this year, we fell pregnant with our baby girl due to be born in Jan, we opened our first flagship store in Cardiff city centre, launched in all stores at Urban Outfitters and went from 0 to nearly 200K followers on TikTok in under 6 months which has been insane. But also with rapid growth comes so much pressure, especially when you’ve never run a business or do any marketing/finance/logistics so you are learning on the job and have to learn fast. We also have 15 employees now, when this time last year it was only me and Ronnie (my finance). Running a business is a roller coaster, the pressure is intense!
Can you tell us your background before starting Mallows?
I have always been fashion and clothes obsessed, so did a Fashion Design degree at Bath and then after graduating I went to work for Dune as an accessories buyer in London, I absolutely loved buying and designing accessories, however buying for a customer with a totally different taste to you is hard, I loved working on the bright fun pieces, and introduced as much pink as I could get away with, I love that my whole range is pink and fun now! I actually got into skincare as when living in London developed severe acne, and just become obsessed with buying, testing and trying products to try and cure my acne myself, as everything prescribed to me didn’t work, my skin is very sensitive so I ended up with raw burnt skin a lot, which I was so fed up with. I would stay up all night researching ingredients and products, and seeing how they worked on my skin. I ended up finding out over the counter ingredients that worked for me and wanted to put them all into one face mask/product and that’s really how Mallows Beauty was born.
What inspired you to go it alone and start your own brand?
This idea of achieving perfection propelled me into buying more and more products, and I became obsessed and quite unhappy.Laura Mallows
It started by me feeling rubbish about my skin, seeing models online and in magazines with flawless skin that I didn’t have, and no matter how hard I tried, couldn’t achieve. This idea of achieving perfection propelled me into buying more and more products, and I became obsessed and quite unhappy. And then I saw an Instagram post from a model about how her skin really was, that had been edited for a skincare shoot and it made me so angry knowing that the idea of perfection I had built up and chased for so long wasn’t possible.
I wondered how many other people like me had made themselves feel so inadequate due to this, I literally felt like I was dirty, that I couldn’t go out because of my spots or skin texture, when actually I was totally normal. It really affected my mental health and made my anxiety so bad, I would panic before going into meetings thinking everyone would be talking about my face as soon as I left. So I thought there needed to be a brand that was 100% real, real skin, real bodies and real people – with products with actual real results, not just trying to sell something that wasn’t possible.
So many brands say they can shrink pores, when scientifically that just isn’t possible. So Mallows Beauty was born, it is important for me to have positive wording on the packaging that’s going to sit on your shelves, to remind you throughout your day that you are amazing, we also use lots of body-positive imagery on packaging to again remind everyone that you are normal and beautiful! We donate 5% of profits to mental health charities, and 100% never ever edit any photos, I love it when models flaunt their spots, cellulite etc as that’s what we are all about.
We are human and want to celebrate normality, and break down the idea that perfect is real because it’s not.Laura Mallows
We are human and want to celebrate normality, and break down the idea that perfect is real because it’s not. It was SO daunting quitting my full-time job, getting a huge loan and starting the company but I had amazing support from my family and fiancé, who within 2 months had to leave his job to join me. He really believed in me from even before I had the idea, he was always saying you should set up a company, and gave me confidence when I was doubting myself! I actually had to begin by maxing out my mum & dad’s credit cards to buy stock, before I could get a loan to prove to the bank my idea had merit! It was so scary, but so exciting when it all came together!
How do you describe Mallows Beauty to new customers and what is your mission statement?
We are the ultimate destination for self-love and we aim to make you glow, inside and out. We are all about the real; real skin, real bodies, real people, and products with real results. All my products are vegan, made in the UK and we donate 5% of profits to mental health charities. Self-love, inclusivity, body and skin positivity is woven into everything we do as a brand, it’s not just a campaign we are running to tick a box, it is everything we are about, our foundations and our goal as a brand, to encourage everyone to love themselves for who they are.
What’s the process like for creating a new product?
I am a massive perfectionist and don’t want anything with my name on that I am not 100% proud of and obsessed with myself. Laura Mallows
It’s probably my favourite part and the thing I do best, I love looking around for inspiration and then making that product come to life. I get so nervous about product launches as products are all my ideas, so if they fail it’s totally on me. Skincare and beauty products take a long time to develop, especially due to all the testing which can take a minimum of 3-6 months. I am also a massive perfectionist and don’t want anything with my name on that I am not 100% proud of and obsessed with myself. I start by doing lots of research, usually wanting something that I can’t buy and then decide to create it. I then brief suppliers and work with them to get sampling right until I am happy with the product. I test everything on myself – I always say I am the only guinea pig we use. Now we have a full team, I do make sure everyone tests the products too, as sure enough they will spot something I haven’t and it just makes for a stronger range!
What do you use the most from all your products, any holy grails?
Toughie, as before becoming pregnant I would use my pineapple enzyme peel mask religiously, it was the only thing that kept my breakouts under control and helped my scarring, but I can’t use it now I’m pregnant (and why I started to develop a pregnancy range for mama’s to be)! Now I am obsessed with my body butters, watermelon is my fave (I am watermelon obsessed) and my watermelon body scrub, I haven’t got one stretch mark and I am putting it down to using these two! 😊
What have some of the challenges been whilst creating products and running your own business?
If I am honest, cash. I run Mallows Beauty alongside my fiancé and business partner Ronnie, we have funded Mallows beauty 100% ourselves through lots of different loans and reinvesting everything back into the business, we actually haven’t paid ourselves for the past 18 months! So we have to be very careful about which products to launch as the risk is on us and we have a limited pot of cash to use. I feel like that is the only thing that holds us back, otherwise, we could have a huge range and use loads of influencers to promote. But we have to be very selective and very careful about where we spend our money – small business issues! Both of us aren’t from a finance background either, so managing cash flow has been one of the toughest things, especially as the company has grown so rapidly.
We are so determined to make a hugely successful company, and it’s so amazing to share the pressure. Having him alongside me really is amazing, I wouldn’t want to do it without him.Laura Mallows
Also when running your own business you have to wear so many hats, that you don’t have experience in, so you have to learn on the job quickly and make mistakes but ensure they aren’t detrimental. It’s been a huge learning curve, however, I am so lucky to be able to do this with my best friend, fiancé, baby daddy – we are both such hard workers, and push each other. We are so determined to make a hugely successful company, and it’s so amazing to share the pressure. We can have a tough day and the other one knows exactly what’s going on, and how to support, some times have a little cry together or dance around the kitchen because we’ve achieved something we have been working on for ages. Having him alongside me really is amazing, I wouldn’t want to do it without him.
How much of your growth do you owe to social media marketing, especially TikTok? (which is brilliant by the way!)
Aw thank you! A huge amount!! It is really what has made us so successful, especially TikTok, we get most of our sales from TikTok. It’s incredible as you can post one video, it goes viral and then you get 100’s of orders. You just reach a new audience all the time, which you don’t get with Instagram or other social media channels really. However, my IG following is really dedicated, loyal and supportive. I honestly feel so lucky to have such amazing followers, business can be so tough, and I have had some really hard weeks and my lovely followers have kept me going, boosted me when I’ve needed it most!
What’s next for Mallows Beauty?!
So much! We are launching with a super exciting retailer this month, which I am planning on spilling the beans on during my takeover. We have so many new ranges in the works like my pregnancy range, cleansers, face moisturisers, hair masks – so the full 360 beauty experience! We are also planning on launching 5 more stores next year around the UK, so watch this space!! 😊
What does your perfect weekend look like?
To be honest, it might sound boring but a really chilled one as my life is so full-on and hectic, and I work too much. So me and Ronnie love to have a ‘lock-in’ in where I switch off my phone, movies snuggled up on the sofa, and lots of food…I LOVE food. So pizza, baked cookie doughs and a roast dinner on Sunday. And then have long walks on the beach with Artie, especially in winter with a big coat on. YUM.
What do you always carry with you?
Not sure if this counts but Artie, who is a cavapoo but thinks he is human. He literally comes with me everywhere I go, even to external meetings – the best perk of working for yourself!
What would your last ever meal be?
Large Dominos pizza (all for me, no sharing) – half margarita, half chicken with veggies, stuffed crust of course. Aaand my mum’s home-baked scones for dessert, probably followed by some carrot cake (my pregnancy obsession).
What is one positive piece of advice you could give to our audience?
Know your worth and don’t tear yourself down. We are all programmed to criticize ourselves to push ourselves forward, but complimenting yourself and focusing on your strengths will have the same impact. I spent too long in my life hating myself, and it got me nowhere.Laura Mallows
Start by giving yourself a cheeky compliment everyday and build it up, focus on what makes you, you. There is only one of you and you are incredible. You need to be your own cheerleader, not your worst enemy. Believe and love yourself, you’re wasting your life if you are spending it hating yourself.