Are you looking to add more brands to your portfolio?
Darren Crook: We’ve recently taken on make-up brand Ardell Beauty, despite mum [Lisa Crook, founder of Louella Belle] saying we would never get into make-up. We’ve always been known as a distributor of nail brands – Artistic Nail Design, Morgan Taylor and IBX – but we’re more diverse and we want people to know that.
Jamie Crook: We’re also looking to take on our first skincare brand and launch it early 2019. We always said if we found a range that’s results-driven but niche, which complements the brands we carry, and will go into a traditional beauty salon that doesn’t want to spend £5,000 on an opening order, then we will take it on – and that’s what we’ve found. We’re not sure if we will be bringing it to Professional Beauty London 2019 yet as it depends on the EU compliance.
You’re launching a nail polish in honour of your mum, Lisa Crook. Can you tell us more about that?
JC: Since mum passed away on Christmas Eve 2017, following her fight with breast cancer, it’s been tough. As part of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, which takes place in October, we’re creating a limited-edition Artistic nail polish to honour her, with all the proceeds going to Cancer Research UK.
The lacquer will be a minky colour called “Don’t drive me mad”, because this was her favourite saying whenever someone asked her how she was feeling. The US manufacturers of Artistic have offered to make it a global thing, sold via their distributors around the world.
What are the biggest market challenges and how are you helping accounts to overcome them?
JC: Product diversion and grey market sales are massive issues. We try to educate our customers that buying products off Amazon and saving £1 on each bottle isn’t the best thing because the company won’t do anything for you if there’s a problem, whereas as a distributor we can.
DC: Amazon certainly aren’t going to educate you on how to use the products either. We’ve got educators all over the country that can troubleshoot with you if something goes wrong. Plus, we offer a hell of a lot of marketing support, but only if you buy the products from us. We often get phone calls from people requesting marketing support and when we look them up on the system, they’re not our customers – we don’t even know them.
Have you restructured the company since Lisa passed away?
JC: Darren and I have had to take on parts of mum’s role so we’ve employed a PA to help us with the day-to-day administrative tasks, making sure contracts are sorted and staff are paid. Darren is focused on the financial and commercial side, while I’m responsible for operations and marketing, but there’s massive crossover. We make decisions together but Darren likes to joke that I spend the money while he saves it.
DC: On an emotional level, it’s been very difficult losing mum. Everyone says how lucky we were to have a business with her. You can still feel mum’s presence everywhere in the office which is a nice thing. She’s left her legacy.