October 9th, 2023
For someone in a small Irish fishing village, aspiring to work in the beauty industry may not seem the obvious career path. Brendan McDowell, CEO of multi-million pound global beauty brand BPerfect clearly didn’t get that memo.
Growing up in Annalong, Co Down, Northern Ireland, Brendan moved to Belfast in his late teens to work in sales for Living Social – a company similar to Groupon. After working successfully in the sector for ten years, he spotted a gap in the market for an eyebrow product and decided to create his own business.
With his mum in tow he went to the Professional Beauty tradeshow in London and visted all the stands exhibiting eyebrow stencils. He bought as many demo products as he could, took them home and tried them all out on friends and family. Following their feedback he then worked on developing his first revolutionary line.
By adding an oil to eyebrow powder he created an oil-proof, smudge-proof and sweat-proof product. Apply a stencil, colour it in and peel it off – you have the instant perfect eyebrow shape. Brendan was passionate about this particular product as giving someone the perfect brow could give confidence and bring a smile to their face.
Having developed Indestructi’Brow – what Brendan says is still his favourite product – he started selling it on market stalls in 2012. This helped him see immediately what customers wanted, and by doing demos live on customers at the stall he got instant feedback – and his clientele weren’t shy in telling him what they did and didn’t like! It was particularly good for people going through treatment or the more mature customers with little hair growth or who had over plucked their brows in their youth. Seeing how well it worked for all kinds of people got Brendan more passionate about makeup and the benefits it could bring.
“As we got more into the make-up game, it made us realise that something so simple, like make-up can make someone feel so good about themselves.” – Brendan McDowell
Brendan cites his late father as being his early business influence. Although he worked in the construction sector – miles away from beauty and makeup – a young Brendan saw him working really hard which enabled him to set up his own business before he passed away unexpectedly at the age of 43. His achievements really motivated Brendan to create BPerfect, and continue to motivate him today.
After selling through markets and fairs for a few years, Brendan wanted to take the business up a notch, and started selling to shops and salons. He next applied to go on RTE’s Dragon Den. In 2017 he was accepted and on the show was offered an £80,000 investment, which he turned down. He realised that he could make it on his own without having to lose creative control over his brand. The exposure he gained from being on the programme was invaluable – and this all happened just as beauty bloggers and social media influencers were exploding onto the scene. It was the perfect storm – they tried his products, loved them and helped bring the brand to a global audience.
While Brendan acknowledges that Dragon’s Den definitely helped BPerfect go up a stage in business, his proudest moment was watching the brand’s own TV show (BBC’s Made Up In Belfast) seeing all the characters and people featured in it and thinking “Woah! I created this.”
The success didn’t happen overnight. He says the hardest challenge in creating his own business was knowing how and when to add structure through growth. To succeed he needed to hire the right people at the right time to deal with specific issues they were facing at the time. About three years ago operations broke down because they didn’t have the right skill set for the warehouse. Getting through that and seeing his hard work pay off led to his proudest moment; realising that he had not only created a brand and products, but had also developed a strong team of amazing people.
Brendan is not one to rest on his laurels. There is a lot in the pipeline for BPerfect. The brand will be launching on an airline, appearing on QVC, collaborating with Primark as well as developing the brand’s presence abroad – particularly in India and Dubai.
Before Brendan headed off we asked him what advice he would give new brands starting out now. His answer was unequivocal. TikTok.
“Get yourself all over TikTok because it’s where you will get seen at the moment and it’s where the algorithm is the friendliest. Find the current trends and run with them! TikTok is your best friend!” – Brendan McDowell
BPerfect Cosmetics is now stocked in over 2000+ stockists throughout Ireland, Northern Ireland, UK and worldwide. The BPerfect range consists of makeup and tanning must haves. As well as the core range, the brand have collaborated with some of the best MUAs in the industry to create; BPerfect X Stacey Marie Carnival Collection, BPerfect x LMD Master Palette, and the BPerfect x Jac Jossa Collection.
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