Not many people can boast that they launched a multi million pound business on the back of a £500 investment , or indeed that they turned down an investment offer from Dragons Den of £80,000...but that is what Brendan Mcdowell did just 7 years ago.
Brendan had a firm idea that he wanted to have his own business, but like so many budding entrepreneurs out there, he had no idea which direction to go in.
It’s always good to go with what you know. With that in mind and with a view to capitalising on the sales experience gained working with Living Social, Brendan had the idea of creating his own product to sell. His job gave him huge exposure to the Beauty Market and in particular Beauty Salons. From the comfort of his sales position in Living Social he could see the explosion of Brow Bars and Brow Services in Salons and Spas across the country. This was a market trend that was not going to go away and he set about looking for a gap in the market that he could tap into.
Surprisingly Brendan would describe himself as risk averse. He started small, just buying a few eye brow products from a UK supplier and selling them on in his pop up stall in Belfast. As the saying goes ‘mighty oaks from little acorns grow!’ After just a few months he realised he could do more and set about creating his own product which he branded BPerfect. The exposure he got from appearing on Dragons Den catapulted him into a different sphere. BPerfect products are now sold world wide from Sydney to California.
In an interview with Belfast Live, Brendan commented : ‘’In our infancy, I used to stand in shopping centres, knowing nothing about makeup, drawing people's eyebrows on. We would get people who had lost their hair to cancer or alopecia and to see their confidence really boost with this product made everything so worth while. I wasn't into beauty at all but when I seen how something so small could make such a difference to somebody that's where my passion came from.’’
That very same passion for making a difference to people’s lives was the inspiration that drove Marisa Carter to carve out a career for herself in the beauty world. Marissa started her career as a beauty therapist. She then went on to teach the beauty qualification courses for 2 years before opening her own salon which she ran for 8 years. It was through the interface with her clients and hearing about their likes and dislikes that she came up with the idea of creating a fake tan which would develop in under 1 hour. At the time many people would have argued that the tanning market was saturated, however, Marissa was aware that a tan which needed to develop overnight was a barrier to purchase for many people. Her determination to re-engineer the product offering was a huge success and the Cocoa Brown range of tans was born.
More recently Marissa has worked on her own personal profile amassing 100,000 followers on Instagram. This along with a very strong PR program has allowed her to launch a cosmetics range under the brand name Carter Beauty. Breaking into the US market has to be a key milestone for any entrepreneur and Marissa has just landed a contract with US giant Walmart for both her Cocoa Brown and Carter Beauty Brands.
In 2017 Marissa was recognised as one of the Top 25 Most Powerful Women in Ireland. That same year she was awarded Best Beauty Influencer by Image magazine. This followed on from previous awards from Women Mean Business Entrepreneur of the Year and Stellar Magazine’s Role Model of the Year.
But everybody has to start somewhere. After failing end of year exams for a Marketing Degree course, Marissa switched lanes and went for a Diploma Qualification in Beauty. From early on she aimed to be the best of the best and has proved over the years that it’s not where you start but where you finish that counts. Marissa’s motto in life: ‘ the strongest factor for success is self belief’
Self belief is at the heart of every successful entrepreneur and Suzanne Jackson is a perfect example of that. Suzanne started to write a blog about her encounters with the various celebrities who passed through the doors of the radio station where she worked reception. The blog took off and readers started to ask about her own out-fits and make-up. Having started life as a beautician, Suzanne was well placed to expand her blog to cover the things in life she was passionate about ...namely beauty and fashion. Even Suzanne could not have guessed that she would become one of the biggest names in the industry and in the top 16 most influential bloggers globally.
After humble beginnings , Suzanne realised that reviewing other people’s products was great for their success but there was a bigger prize out there. The blog has been taken over by members of Suzanne’s team leaving her more time to develop her branded product portfolio Sosu by Suzanne Jackson. According to Forbes her net worth at the age of just 34 years is $9million. Not bad for a girl from Skerries.
Suzanne sets a great example for young people who leave school not knowing which path to take. As she says : ’College isn’t everything neither is working in a job you hate. If you are not happy in something, you need to listen to yourself and change that. ‘