Frustrated with the amount of cotton wool she had to use to remove her makeup, Laura wanted a solution that didn’t waste heaps of material to remove face and eye cosmetics. After a series of experiments with different fabrics in her kitchen, she invented the brand’s signature washable cleansing cloths, known as Eco Pads.
This went from a homemade side hustle to a globally-known, award-winning gadget when she reached the finals of the British Female Inventor of the Year Awards in London in 2002. The recognition celebrates creativity amongst women, putting a spotlight on innovation with high economic growth potential. While she didn’t win, the ceremony and her appearance on BBC news spurred the spark of an idea for something even bigger. Spending the next few weeks frantically hand-sewing heart shaped cleansing pads, attending small business courses, and working with a mentor, her brand, Love the Planet, was born.
This was just the beginning. Her zero-waste mineral makeup collection, free from palm oil and parabens, went on to win four awards in 2019 at the Green Parent Magazine Natural Beauty Awards, taking home titles for her foundations, powders, and eyeshadows. Embraced by beauty and sustainability gurus across the globe, her products stand for more than just helping people feel their best, but helping the environment to do the same.
Let’s hear from Laura on her insights into running a women-owned small business, hurdling unexpected obstacles, and how she’s hoping to make an impact on the Earth’s future by emphasising eco-friendly, cruelty-free products and packaging.
How did you determine your brand’s philosophy of sustainability?
My aim was to create a range of products with the smallest environmental footprint possible. When making environmentally friendly products it’s all about finding the best solution that’s possible at the time and then figuring out how to improve on that in the future. It’s better to aim for gradual improvements rather than perfection, which may not be currently achievable.
What are the strengths and challenges of operating your business? How do you overcome obstacles?
Learning that I can’t do everything myself was a real challenge in the early days. There just weren’t enough hours in the day to get everything done, especially once I became a mother. I’m now able to share the load and have a distributor who takes care of packing and sending all of the orders. I can now concentrate on the day to day admin and new product development etc.
Cash flow is always a consideration so I had to learn to prioritise the plans which were the most important and not to try and do everything at once. In the past I have overstretched myself and then felt frustrated when I feel like I’m being spread too thin. Now I try to take things a bit more slowly and enjoy the process.
What advice would you give to other cosmetic businesses?
My main words of advice would be to really think about what you’ve trying to achieve with your business and then create a step by step process to make it happen. Also, take your time and have patience when things don’t happen as quickly as you’d like. I used to be in a panic to get everything done immediately and would feel like I had failed when I didn’t do things quickly enough. These days I enjoy the process and have learned to slow down. Two young children and sleep deprivation helped me on this path too!
How do you personally define business success? Is it money? Freedom? Influence? Creative expression/innovation? Something else?
For me it’s mainly about the freedom to plan my own time without restrictions. Also the creativity side is a big advantage. I love being able to think up a new product or style of packaging and then make it into a reality.
What is a specific key moment you remember from running Love the Planet?
A memory that makes me smile is the time that I was invited to a local school to talk about my business. I was to be talking with a class of nine year olds. When I got to their class room I realised that they had been doing a project about Love The Planet! One wall was covered in pictures of my products that they had drawn. I was so happy to see how enthusiastic they were about environmentally aware products and packaging solutions. It’s this kind of enthusiasm from the younger generation that will make a real difference to our climate.
Another funny memory is the time that I was asked to apply makeup for Justin Hawkins (the Darkness) and his band at the time for a gig as I had trained to be a makeup artist. I was asked to go heavy on the eye liner!
Laura is a testament to putting your mind to something and making it happen, no matter how many rounds of cotton prototypes and mineral makeup trays you have to go through to get there. Now, she enjoys the slower side of small business life, letting her products speak for themselves and listening to her customers, rather than being chained to social media and spending her days battling algorithms. She shows us that bliss can be derived from anywhere, even the kitchen counter.
“These days I’m enjoying the fact that I’m still running a business that is now in its 20th year,” Laura said. “It’s amazing to see a wee brand that I’ve created in Scotland be embraced by independent retailers all over the country and further afield.”
Explore Love the Planet now on CREOATE to add a splash of sustainability to your shelves, from foundations to eyeshadows. While you’re at it, give them a follow on the ‘Gram @lovetheplanetuk