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An Appointment With: Claire Vero
February 2nd 2015
The founder of Aurelia Probiotic Skincare waxes lyrical about the importance of good skincare and the secrets to running a successful business
Aged 30 and recognising that the skincare market was no longer offering her the products she wanted, Claire Vero did not just sit back but instead set about creating her own brand, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare. Utilising her ten years' experience in pharmaceuticals, Claire has created a brand that harnesses the power of natural ingredients whilst at the same time focusing on scientifically proven evidence based skin care.
Snapped up by Net-A-Porter Beauty just three months after its launch, the brand has won the hearts of beauty editors and skincare fans alike and continues to go from strength to strength. From the importance of her big breaks to staying sane amongst the madenss we chatted to Claire about her path to the top.
Why did you decide to specialise in skincare?
I have always had a personal passion for skincare although my background was in Pharmaceuticals. I worked for nearly 10 years for one of the world’s biggest companies GlaxoSmithkline, having started on their management graduate scheme. I spent my early years launching the first cervical cancer vaccine into the UK amongst other roles before I moved into specialise in Dermatology. I was immediately hooked on skincare after seeing new discoveries and the positive effect good skin can have on one’s self-esteem. When my skin became dry and started to change during my late 20s and early 30s, I decided I needed to make a serious change to my skincare routine. I wanted a brand that was really serious about age prevention and had data to back it up, was for all ages and skin types and that would be a complete delight and treat to use on a daily basis. At the time there really wasn’t one brand that stood out and satisfied all these criteria so I decided to make it my mission to create this ideal range.
When was your big break?
Can I have three? For me, in the beginning a defining moment for Aurelia Probiotic Skincare was being handpicked as part of Net-A-Porter’s first ever Beauty Edit three months into our launch. We were one of only 15 brands to be selected as part of their initial foray into beauty, and the moment when my team and I crowded around the computer to watch the first products entering customers’ baskets on Net-A-Porter Live was one I’ll never forget! I am also very proud to have been selected as part of esteemed beauty editor Kate Shapland’s carefully edited selection of beauty brands for the new concept in beauty retail, MyShowcase, so early on. It’s wonderful to be part of founder Nancy Cruickshank’s and Kate’s vision to create a unique shopping experience for beauty that gives customers hands-on introductions to the products but also offers women across the UK entrepreneurial opportunities. Lastly moving from a table to be given a counter within the iconic Beauty Hall at Liberty was incredible. We did this in a record breaking 12 months so they are as pleased as we are!
What does an average day look like for you (if there ever is one!)?
After having my first baby, Henry, in March last year I currently spend three long days a week in the office and then spend time with him on my days off. We try to have a family breakfast together of a vitamin-rich smoothie and sheep’s milk yoghurt with fruit and granola before I leave to walk to the office as it is so close. On arrival first thing, I’ll take an hour to check through and reply to any urgent emails then catch up with the team looking at our priorities. Over a herbal tea I’ll meet with Aurelia’s PR Director Anna to discuss any press appointments, coverage of the products or interview questions. I often spend time researching new ingredients and thinking about new product development as well as concentrating on the direction of the business; at the moment I am focusing on expanding our retail footprint outside of the UK. Every day can be so different, whether it’s a business trip or a lunch meeting, so I have to keep a close eye on my calendar!
What do you enjoy most about your job?
I love the freedom that comes with having my own business, making endless decisions is stressful enough but without the bureaucracy that comes from working in large organisations it is so refreshing! It’s wonderful to be able to manage and oversee my vision for Aurelia Probiotic Skincare but what I find most rewarding is that I have such a fantastic and passionate team behind me. Starting small, with only one part-time PR Director & a full time Marketing Assistant when I launched in January 2013, to now having a team of 12 across the business has meant that I can reduce my input in some different areas of the business while being able to focus on driving the brand in line with the goals I have for Aurelia’s future. It has been so much fun as well as a lot of hard work, late nights and endless weekends. I have also loved meeting so many new people along the way; from passionate customers to beauty editors and make-up artists, the beauty industry is full of the most creative and interesting people so it’s great to be a part of it.
Are there any aspects of your job that you find challenging?
I would have to say the part that’s most challenging about my job is never really being able to switch off. My mind is always buzzing with ideas and the ever increasing lists and challenges of running a start-up business, so the rare moments of calm are a very welcome!
What's the most common question you get asked by clients?
Is Aurelia Probiotic Skincare right for them? Regardless of age or skin type, Aurelia Probiotic Skincare is unique in that all ages can benefit from the three technologies present in the range and also the powerful, antioxidant-rich botanical ingredients. Our clients often ask whether the range is age-specific, but the joy of Aurelia Probiotic Skincare is that you will see fantastic results from your twenties through to your eighties! The added benefit is that not only are you working to help prevent accelerated ageing but the products are a complete luxury to use.
Who's your team 'me'? Who do you rely on to keep you happy, healthy and sane?
It’s such a joy to be able to work with a passionate, hard-working and supportive team, who have all been a major part in the success of Aurelia Probiotic Skincare. Anna Lewin was a friend from my university days and has been with me from the beginning. She had just had her first baby when I was in the transition of leaving GSK and setting up as a consultant to fund the business and put my business plan into action. As you can imagine we have been through a lot and she has been invaluable in building the brand. Vicky Lorkin, who is one of my best friends from school, joined after me begging her to leave her role in merchandising and has arranged key processes and agreements with suppliers that have set the business up so well for growth.
Our Marketing Director Hannah has been amazing since she joined from GSK and without her I would not have been able to take any kind of maternity leave so that was incredible. I rely on my lovely husband Alex and our son Henry to keep me very happy. Alex listens to me prattle on for hours about the business and anything else I am thinking about and is so supportive. Although at one stage when we were launching he would get a bit cross as I was working as a consultant and then working through the night in bed on my laptop which went on for months. Thank goodness that is over now. I was very, very tired. Phew!
How is your industry changing?
The beauty industry as a whole is diversifying greatly with a trend towards online shopping. Customers are relying on blogger reviews, videos and beauty websites to make informed decisions before purchasing online and reading numerous customer testimonials to confirm the online purchasing decision. With the web it makes it a little easier for new customers to become aware of smaller beauty companies and to help to turn smaller brands like Aurelia Probiotic Skincare into household names. Well, fingers crossed for that!
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