The Council Is In Session

April 12th, 2018

April 12th, 2018

It started, like many great ideas, with a round of drinks.

A year ago, with the Brexit vote already causing chaos in government and Trump’s recent win still sending shock-waves around the globe, a group of talented women within the beauty industry were commiserating over the turn the world had taken.  What would this mean for beauty?  What would this mean for businesses?

“My brother is a social worker, and when I was lamenting about the state of the world he pointed out that nothing would change if someone didn’t push for change.”  Millie Kendall, proud holder of an MBE for services to the beauty industry, of Ruby & Millie fame and co-founder of the innovative BeautyMART brand, took the words to heart.  That round of drinks was a meeting of minds, and the first seeds of what has become the British Beauty Council.  With nothing as cohesive and all-encompassing as the British Fashion Council to represent the beauty industry on a lobbying, governmental level, the British Beauty Council aims to unite the disparate factions of beauty – from salons and spas to hairdressers and behemoth corporations – for the first time as a non-profit organisation.


“I have worked in beauty for around 35 years,” Kendall noted.  “I started at the age of 15 working as a hairdressing assistant.  I have friends and colleagues who are hairdressers, make-up artists, executives, publishers, PR’s or brand owners and they all have different organisations to represent them, but not one overriding community body.  I thought, along with some of my friends, that this needed addressing.  Firstly on a practical level, as we won’t get recognised alongside music and fashion without having a combined message. We can’t prove our value without combining our income and employment impact, and this is what will get government and business leaders paying attention.”


Which is exactly what happened when Kendall, Kathy Phillips (former Health & Beauty Director at Vogue Magazine and This Works founder), Awie Newell (Global Business Development Director at PZ Cussons) and BeautyMART co-founder Anna-Marie Solowij met with the Cultural Minister, Matthew Hancock.  Beauty wasn’t even on his radar, unlike fashion, music and art, despite the beauty industry being worth billions in business development, employment, manufacturing and more.

Jane Boardman, CEO of Talk PR and Chairperson of the BBC, knew that to receive the same attention and support they would need to make similar strides to that of fashion in the UK – “We saw the work the fashion industry has been doing to raise its reputation and how, over eight years of consistent reputation raising strategy it has dramatically improved the industry.  We are very aware that no-one is doing the same for beauty that has an even greater reputation problem.”

The idea quickly ignited a spark which is only flaring brighter and brighter.  Letters and phone calls, all pledging support, started to flood in from all corners of the industry.  The BBC was officially created and their website went live late in 2017, with the promise of inclusivity at all levels.  Just like the music industry, there are solo artists and big players within beauty, and all are invited to combine and work together for mutual benefit under the BBC umbrella.

Catherine Handcock, Creative HEAD Magazine Publisher and the BBC’s Development Director, has been thrilled by the reaction.

Catherine Hancock

“Everyone we spoke to felt very passionately about it.  There’s so much to do, and so much to cover, but we have three key pillars:

REPUTATION – we will promote the British beauty industry as a highly profitable, world-leading business, and champion future-proofing initiatives to ensure its ongoing success.  For example, by raising the profile of the British beauty industry with key stakeholders and influencers  – such as careers advisors, schools, universities and the government.  We want to build the reputation of the British beauty industry as a positive career choice to key audiences via business anecdotes and creative success stories, rather than something which should be viewed as anything like a ‘fallback’ option.  An important part of this strategy is to commission and publish research reports to inform, spark debate, contribute new ideas and highlight the value of the British beauty industry, both to the UK economy and the local communities in which they operate. 

EDUCATION – to ensure the future growth and success of the British beauty industry, the BBC aims to establish a charitable trust to support initiatives that will attract, develop and retain talent.  This will include informing young people about the breadth of opportunities and careers available in the beauty industry, working with employers to establish workforce development and clear career paths to build and retain talent, and encouraging the development of beauty-focused courses in higher and further education

INNOVATION – the purpose of this pillar is to promote the British beauty industry’s public-facing images as a world leader in creativity, business and innovation.  This will include providing business advice, expertise and support to budding entrepreneurs, and highlighting innovation in technology and industry engagement with digital.  A key element of our strategy is to create talent support pathways that will engage students, support emerging businesses and both celebrate and champion our global brands.  We also hope to develop an online portal to create open access to business support information and seminars.”

There’s a lot to be done, but the BBC are starting with a commissioned report which will catalogue and detail the full extent of what should be considered the ‘beauty industry’ and to evaluate its worth to the UK economy.  With this in hand, a united industry can be presented at a governmental level and being to work on the above initiatives.

For more information and to sign up for free to the BBC, click here.

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By Deborah Murtha

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