November 30th, 2020
We spoke to Jo Minchin, Lindsey Price and Zoe Wilkinson, the founders of SkinTres, the advanced beauty training business that was founded earlier this year, as well as SkinTres Tech which is the manufacturing arm of the business, offering the sale and lease of state-of-the-art equipment for beauty therapists. If that wasn’t enough, they also created the Grass Roots Facial®, the world’s first CIBTAC endorsed CDB facial procedure using a full range of cosmeceutical CBD skin care along with Grass Roots Skin, the associated skin care range. Grass Roots launched at the beginning of October – we caught up with them to see how they’re getting on.
What’s your background and what brought you into beauty? What or who were your influences?
Jo: I was an Operations Director within the hospitality industry for many years and managed hundreds of team members within the corporate world. I was becoming bogged down with the role becoming more about HR, working 16-hour days and endless trouble shooting so I looked to diversify into something different. I had always had a fascination with all things beauty and I also wanted to work for myself. I toyed with the idea of opening my own restaurant as that is where my expertise lay, however during a stint with a new start up pub company, I was given the opportunity to be involved with every aspect of the business. I quickly realised that many of my skills were business related and these were not just exclusive to hospitality. I always felt that I had not fulfilled my potential career wise, and I had this deep sense that I was able to achieve so much more than within the restraints of the corporate world of CEO’s and performance reviews.
After a random encounter and a couple of sliding door moments, I took the decision to retrain for my beauty qualifications and start my own business, Clever Contours. I began with just a few treatments, HIFU quickly becoming my specialist discipline. I learned day by day, built my own website from watching YouTube tutorials, learnt to navigate the world of social media for business and secured spots working in some great clinics on a monthly basis which is where I met Lyndsey and Zoe.
Lyndsey: After working in finance and banking for over a decade, I was well and truly done with the corporate world and the 9-5 lifestyle. I wanted to be my own boss and to do something that I could work around my two children who were very young at the time. I came across Cosmetic tattooing after meeting a few people who had their eyebrows tattooed. It seemed to tick all of the boxes for me so I did some research and found an artist to train with. I soon became obsessed with the whole industry, particularly anything to do with skin. Within a couple of years, I had opened a laser and skin clinic which is still going strong to this day.
Zoe: After many years of working in social media customer services, predominantly on-line for women’s fashion brands, an opportunity came along to work with Lyndsey in her clinic focusing on skincare and laser light therapies. This allowed me to pursue a career around my 3 children, in an area of beauty which used the science of laser for permanent and result driven treatments (tattoo, hair, vascular, pigmented lesions). As my children started to get older, I felt the need to progress my career and take more of a leading role. I am a bit of a skin geek so when Jo and Lyndsey approached me about an opportunity to do something for ourselves, I jumped at the chance.
What’s the first product you remember using as a teenager and has that affected your later product choices?
Jo: It has to be the Clinique 3 Step Kit. I thought it was so fancy at the time and it taught me the routine of cleansing and toning. I have always removed my makeup, no matter how tired I am.
Lyndsey: The first product that I remember using as a teenager was Clearasil Clean and Clear Cream Cleanser. I was lucky not to suffer from acne as a teenager but I liked the clean and fresh feeling (I guess it contained eucalyptus). I still love a wash that leaves your skin feeling squeaky clean but these days I like my facewash to exfoliate and soften my skin too, ready to absorb more active ingredients.
Zoe: As a teen I had heavily acneous skin. I remember using my dad’s aftershave to try and help it before being prescribed topicals from a GP. Needless to say, the aftershave stung and made the acne worse. Lesson learnt – aftershave or toothpaste do not work! I would always recommend for someone to seek help from a skin specialist rather than a DIY job like I did.
You’ve had a very busy year, setting up both SkinTres and Grass Roots – what was the impetus for doing this? Have there been any surprises along the way?
Jo: Lyndsey and myself had talked for a while about doing something together but we were never quite sure what. We recognised a work ethic and the desire to succeed in each other and instinctively knew that we would make a strong team. Fast forward to the 17th March when we were all panicking about lockdown, we talked more in depth about it and knew with the impending lockdown that we could really put the time to good use. We knew that Zoe was also looking to step into a bigger role and become involved in a business venture, so with her experience in all things skin we asked her if she was open to a chat. So, the three of us went to the little bar next to Lyndsey’s clinic (before they all closed). In that few hours we thrashed out the basis of what we wanted professionally, morally, ethically and personally. SkinTres was formed that very day over a few glasses of Sauvignon Blanc and an insatiable excitement to create something different.
Surprises along the way were many! None more than the way our business grew from the idea of the three of us offering training in our specialist disciplines, to us creating the UK’s first cosmeceutical CBD skincare line, a CBD facial that was endorsed by CIBTAC, having our own beauty machines made specially for us and applying for our own FCA license! To be honest, the three of us are still surprised today that we have done all this! You could say that during lockdown, we made lemonade from lemons!
What were the first steps to setting up Grass Roots and what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? Would you do anything differently if you had your time again?
Jo: People often ask what came first, SkinTres the training business or Grass Roots® the skincare business. It’s the chicken or egg scenario. Everything happened to fast for us that we sometimes forget how it all started ourselves!
We set out with the idea to design a really great facial for us to train to therapists. We wanted to incorporate a few of our favourite protocols such as dermaplaning and LED, something that was results driven but also relaxing, additionally, we wanted a treatment that could be performed regularly to ensure a therapist’s income.
To really stand out from the crowd, we knew this had to be special. We had a keen interest in CBD and each used it ourselves so we tried every which way to incorporate this into the facial. We still wanted to use active ingredients within our facial such as retinols, aha’s, vitamin C and hyaluronic acid etc but it was proving difficult to do this plus add CBD.
This is where we saw a huge gap in the market, there were no skincare brands that had the essential active ingredients and CBD, it was either one or the other. So as a trio never to miss out on an opportunity, we decided to create our own brand of skincare and incorporate both. Grass Roots Skin® was formed, as was a deep hole in our bank account and months of intense work.
Our advice to any budding entrepreneur is to look at what is currently on the market. It doesn’t matter if its’s already out there, investigate it, see how you can do it better, make a plan, find your target market, and create your brand with those people in mind.
Always be true to who you are and do not be swayed by outside influences. We have often questioned our decisions because of an external comment but we come back together and remind ourselves of that day on 17th March. We knew then of our ethical and moral beliefs; we knew the tone we would have in all our marketing and we knew the direction we wanted to go. It is easy to be influenced in the wrong way, but you must believe in who you are and what you want to achieve. Also, do really sound financial planning! Know your prices and understand your profits.
We have always aimed high and wanted to be the very best, it was never good enough for us to have our Grass Roots Facial® endorsed by just anyone, we wanted CIBTAC, we set our sights on it even when people laughed and said we would never get it, but we didn’t sway on what we wanted and we are now the world’s first CIBTAC endorsed CBD facial using cosmeceutical CBD skincare.
Our mantra has always been, go big or go home and to any potential entrepreneur, we encourage you to do the same. Know what you want to achieve, be passionate about it, believe in yourself and then work as hard as you can to reach your goals.
We wouldn’t do anything differently apart from believe in ourselves more. We sometimes thought we weren’t able to do certain things but then circumstances left us in positions where we had to do it anyway. It would always result in us doing it better than we would have paid someone to do, it was all a matter of having the confidence to do it.
So to sum up our advice to anyone thinking of branching out on their own…Believe in yourself, believe in your brand, be passionate and work hard.
What did you want to achieve with your product line? How long did it take you to create and develop the concept from start to finish and bring it to market?
Jo: We wanted to create something that could hold its own against some of the great brands we respect. We wanted people to understand that CBD is nothing to be afraid of and when added with the usual cosmeceutical ingredients, it becomes a product that can really stand out from the crowd. We also wanted this great skincare line to be attractive to all age groups. This was the most difficult arena for us as what a 30-year-old may like in terms of branding and packaging is not always what someone at 60 would like. This is where we reverted back to staying true to ourselves, we scrapped the designers work and created it ourselves.
We started working on this project on the 18th March 2020. We went into lockdown on the 22nd and we have worked every single day since then. We didn’t take a single day off, we worked 10-15-hour days and grafted. We were always fully aware that we would never have the opportunity of time like the lockdown gifted us so we embraced it and took every single minute of it that we could. If we were not at home on lockdown then this project would have taken us 18 months, as it turned out, we launched Grass Roots Skin® on 10th October, so it took us just under 7 months. The Grass Roots Facial® launched a couple of weeks later.
What were the challenges of launching a facial procedure and skin care line during lockdown, with close contact services closed?
Jo: Perfecting the facial procedure was difficult during lockdown but we were trained in the protocols so we knew the outcomes of each. When we got further into lockdown and restrictions lifted slightly, 2 of us became a bubble and then once we hit August 15th, it was game on! We treated everyone we could lay our hands on.
As for creating the skincare line, the challenges were endless. We couldn’t just go and meet the manufacturers, smell essential oils there and then, hold glass bottles and trial pipettes in our hands, we just had to rely on deliveries, which most often were weeks late. It was all part of the lockdown fun though!
What’s your favourite of your own products? And is there a product you wish you had created?
Jo: I genuinely love all of our range but my favourite product has to be the Skin Drench Super Serum – I love it! 15% of Vitamin C is a whopping amount and it evens my skin tone, the hyaluronic acid doesn’t sit on the skin like some do, it soaks in beautifully. I’m the eldest so I need all the help I can get!
Lyndsey: I’ve been asked this question a few times and I keep changing my mind. At the moment I really love the Retinol Repair Cream. The consistency is perfect in that it absorbs really easily without a greasy residue. Also, unlike other retinol products that I have used, my skin feels nourished… That’s the CBD!
Zoe: All our products are genuinely amazing, but at this time of year with the dark dull days and hopping from a centrally heated house to freezing outdoor conditions, like Lyndsey, my favourite product is the Retinol Repair Cream. Its thick and super absorbent texture pumps result driven ingredients right into your skin whilst keeping it hydrated and not at all greasy.
Jo: As for a product we wish we had created, we swap between a cleansing oil and a body cream. We will produce both early next year but think the oil cleanser will come first.
What’s your own skin care regime?
Jo: I follow our full 6 step morning and night– Cleanse, Tone, Serum, Eye Serum, Retinol and SPF for daytime and Cleanse, Tone, Serum, Eye Serum and Oil for bedtime.
Lyndsey: Just like Jo I follow the full Grass Roots® routine religiously. I do add in Tretinoin for extra retinol once or twice a week and some extra exfoliation because my skin is so used to it after years of lasering and peeling.
Zoe: Again, like the girls, I follow our routine but I cocktail together the Skin Drench Super Serum and Retinol Repair Cream each morning. In the evening I use the oil instead of the Retinol. I also use the Gua Sha once a week and Derma Roller twice a week.
As a team you’re very focused on giving back – when you launched the skincare line you were climbing Snowdon to fundraise for Papyrus. How did you become involved with this particular organisation?
Jo: On that day back in March when we laid out what we wanted from our business; it was important to us that we gave back. We knew we wanted to support a charity that was related to mental health in some way as it was an area close to our hearts. We didn’t seem to connect emotionally with some of the very large and well-known charities but when we came across Papyrus, [the leading national charity dedicated to the prevention of young suicide] it was a no brainer, the three of us agreed instantly. We love what they do and how the charity is run, the founder lost her teenage son to suicide and their board is made up of similar individuals who have first hand experience. They are an incredible charity who offer lifesaving support to young people. We are honoured and proud to work with them.
We donate 1% of all our profits to Papyrus and fundraise throughout the year. Once lockdown has ended and we can all get back to normal, we plan to host a yearly ball to raise even more funds.
What is next on the horizon for you all, as well as the brand?
Jo: It’s been a wild ride so far, endless hours of work and stress like we have never experienced, but we have loved every minute of it and we are chomping at the bit with a hundred new ideas. We will add to our skincare line next year, we will be offering our Grass Roots Facial® training worldwide, and we have exciting new machines due to launch in spring 2021. The opportunities in our wonderful industry are endless.
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