May 17th, 2021
Katie Godfrey is a Lash Expert and top UK beauty entrepreneur being one of the first UK trainers of the Russian Volume technique. Katie left school at 13 and bought her own salon at 19. She has since built up the KG Professional chain as well a premium professional range for lash artists. The product range is born from assessing what is missing in the industry and looking at how to make treatments easier and quicker.
She also has a UK-wide beauty training academy, a salon coaching business and is co-owner of the World Lash University conference and awards which is partnered with The Lash Games at Olympia Beauty. In addition, she has her own podcast, The Life Of KG, aimed at those in the hair and beauty space but also relatable to anyone in business.
KG Professional aims to provide the finest products and training for lash technicians to carry out the best treatments at the highest standards. They now deliver essential products for consumers to maintain and care for lashes effectively at home.
We spoke to Katie about lashes, business and lockdown.
What’s your background and what brought you into beauty?
Modelling brought me into the world of beauty. I started my modelling career at 13 years old and being in front of the camera all the time encouraged me to make sure my hair, nails, tanning and makeup was always perfect. So from a young age I always loved beauty but I never thought I would go into it as a career and be where I am today. I had a passion for tanning which is how I started my salon, then I gradually expanded the salon to offer other beauty treatments.
What’s your first make-up memory?
I have always loved make-up, even to the point of going into school knowing I was going to be handed a bottle of make-up remover on arrival, to putting it straight back on at lunchtime! I have always just loved getting ready and feeling more confident with my make-up on. On photo shoots when I was modelling, there would always be a make-up artist to do the make-up, but I always felt like I didn’t look like me, so would prefer to do my own make-up.
What’s the first product you remember using as a teenager and has that affected your later product choices?
Definitely skincare. My mum was very particular with what I used on my skin, as I did suffer from breakouts. So from a young age I used quality products like Liz Earle, and was religious about my skincare routine in the morning and evening. Skincare routine is so important as you can see a difference if that routine is interrupted for some reason. I now use Environ and Monat skincare.
You left school at 13 after being a victim of bullying, what did you do next? What was the impetus for starting KG Professional?
Just as I was finishing school that’s when I started modelling. It honestly saved my life and that’s what I thought I was going to do forever. Leaving school so young I had to start college early, so that’s when I did my Level 1 Beauty Therapy. From then I started my first company at 18 which was in fact a model agency and then went on to opening my own salon at 19.
Even though I never initially thought I would be in the beauty industry, I quickly grew passionate for everything beauty. Especially Lashes. It was my absolute favourite treatment and I couldn’t get enough of learning and perfecting lashes to create the perfect sets for my clients.
Back then, 12 years ago, there wasn’t half the choice of what there is now with suppliers and products in the lash world. I wanted to create a company that had all products I wanted to use on my clients rather than getting products from different suppliers. I also wanted to create high quality training and spread the word about offering lashes in salons, which is when KG Professional was born.
What were the first steps to setting up the business and what advice do you have for other entrepreneurs? Would you do anything differently if you had your time again?
Everything I did along the way has been a huge lesson. All the mistakes and learning curves I’ve had in the past 13 years have contributed to my success so far and without all my experiences, I wouldn’t be able to teach others. The one thing I wish I did do was to get a business mentor earlier to speed up the success process. That has been invaluable recently.
My first steps in business were choosing the location and getting funding. Location is one of the key factors to look into when you are starting a business. Is the type of business that you’re creating the right location to where your target audience are? Are the prices you want to charge in line with the area that you’re setting up in? There is lots to consider when choosing the location and the wrong location can be detrimental. So do your market research first. I was lucky with launching KG Professional, as it was a market untouched with hardly any competition in the area.
How long did it take you to create and develop the concept from start to finish and bring it to market?
KG Professional was a journey and still is, we are always developing product ranges and bringing out new courses to add to our offering. We didn’t launch all products and training courses straight away though; we acted on what was needed in the industry at the time. We started with training courses and outsourced our training kits elsewhere for our students, but when students were coming back to order products from us, I knew we were missing a trick. So then I went through the journey of sourcing and testing products, until we ended up with a full eyelash range. We brought one product out at a time which helped us feel 100% confident that each was effective, easy to use and of high quality.
What challenges have you faced during the lockdown – what have been the positives?
Lockdown was a challenge for everyone. It hit businesses hard but it also gave business owners time to reflect on their brands and to see what was really happening within them.
Sometimes you can get so busy with day-to-day life, you forget to look at the small things within the company. So it was a real chance to reflect on what was working, what was not and finding new and refreshing ideas we could bring in.
My positives from lockdown were launching four new courses, Brow Lamination, Lash Lift, KG Brows and Hard Gel, plus getting ready to launch our new Platinum Lash range which went on sale last month. I also launched a membership program, Salon Owners Group – Coffee Cake and Chat, which is a mentoring program to help salon owners through lockdown and beyond, to grow their salons and build teams. I am very proud of that.
Your professional range is really successful – was it an obvious move to then create a consumer line as well? Would you have done this had it not been for the pandemic?
I always wanted to start with a professional range as people in the industry are my passion and being a salon owner, I wanted to create products for a salon. Starting a consumer line is very important and works hand in hand as it gives lash artists the chance to retail within their businesses, generating extra profit as well as enhancing their professional image when offering and retailing products to enhance the client’s beauty treatment. We will be launching more consumer products very soon.
What’s your favourite of your own products? – and is there one you wish you had created?
That’s a hard one as I love all my products but my KG Lash Shampoo for professional and consumer use is probably my favourite! I love the packaging, the price point for the consumer to make it affordable and how gentle it is on the eye. There are two products I am keen to launch in the future, a Lash serum and a brow gel for the consumer, which guess what, are already in the pipeline!
What’s next for you and the brand?
Keep building, keep creating and keep motivating others. We are always looking for educators to join our team to spread the word of good training and education. We are also soon to be launching KG Professional Salons for those that use our products and offer high quality services. So something to look out for soon.
Sign up for the Lash Games at Olympia Beauty, 3-4 October 2021.
Subscribe to Warpaint here.