Inside Job: Reena Hammer

November 15th 2014 / Ayesha Muttucumaru Google+ Ayesha Muttucumaru

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The Creative and Brand Director of the Urban Retreat group talks us through her work, her life and her top career advice for those looking to break into the beauty business

Success runs through Reena Hammer’s veins. The daughter of entrepreneur George Hammer and renowned makeup artist and brand creator Ruby Hammer, the Latin and English Literature graduate has not only made significant strides in following her parents’ rather sizeable footsteps, but has also created a covetable career that has seen her become a beauty powerhouse in her own right.

From her first role as Project Manager in overseeing the refurbishment of One Marylebone to her introduction to e-commerce at beauty website beautique.com, she’s immersed herself into each and every one of her varied ventures, relishing the opportunity to learn and develop her skill set from an early age. Having risen through the ranks at Urban Retreat from the PR and marketing team to the role of Creative and Brand Director, her journey to the top acts as inspiration for anyone looking to combine an interest in beauty with a sharp business acumen. And she’s not even 30.

We caught up with the cosmetics tycoon to get a glimpse into her job, ask her for her top tips for career success and about her journey so far.

GTG: Could you describe for us what you do?

RH: I am the Creative and Brand Director for Urban Retreat. It’s a family run business and so incredibly close to my heart. I have a number of hats really, my two main remits are to oversee all of the departments including the in-house design team, Marketing and PR team, digital team and the e-commerce website and to also look after and nurture the brand relationships with our 70+ luxury suppliers like Crème de la Mer, La Prairie, NARS and Hourglass.

This past year, I have also taken on the massive task of managing all the refurbishment works in Urban Retreat at Harrods, which have involved new beauty treatment rooms, a new salon, a new café and a soon to open new Moroccan hammam.

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GTG: What does a typical day look like?

RH: A typical day for me starts at home waking up at 7.30, letting the dog out, getting ready and having a ‘Super Green Elixir’ before I leave the house. My days are varied but mainly spent between Harrods and our Head Office which is located on Horse Guards Avenue. It would normally start with site meetings at Harrods, seeing contractors, architects and quantity surveyors before having a lunch meeting with a brand in our newly open UR Café. From there, I head back to Head Office for meetings with the team to sign off artwork, discuss ongoing projects or brainstorm the next big project.

GTG: What’s the most challenging project you have worked on?

RH: By far the most challenging thing for me has been the recent refurbishment at Harrods. It’s an iconic store and everything you do has to be impeccable. Building a waterproofed, tanked hammam on the fifth floor of Harrods comes with many challenges – but, I can’t wait for it to open in January. It really is something to be marvelled at. We have all worked so hard on it that to see our customers enjoying it will be an amazing feeling.

GTG: What motivates you?

RH: Ultimately this company is my baby, my family’s baby. I want it to succeed, to grow and go to a great University! I’m motivated by the fact that I love my job and most importantly it is more than just a job to me. Creating firsts and striving to be an industry leader is always in the back of my mind pushing me forward.

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GTG: How do you organise yourself?

RH: I have many many lists. Some typed AND some handwritten. My life is organised on a Microsoft Surface Pro, it’s a laptop, tablet, notebook in one. It saves me carrying reams of artwork and architectural plans and completely putting my back out – my chiropractor is over the moon with this new addition! Although reviewing emails and looking at plans and creative is what I do on it mostly. It enables me to mark things up with its special pen and I have access to everything I need, when I need it. Put simply, it’s revolutionised my working life!

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GTG: What advice would you give to anyone wanting to do what you do?

RH: The beauty industry is a great one, it’s welcoming but challenging in the right quantities. My advice would be to experience as many areas of the industry as possible in order to get a really rounded knowledge. For example, I’ve spent time in warehouses learning about distribution, on the shop floor in Harrods whilst I was still at school, working from a brand’s perspective but also from a retailer’s perspective. This gave me and would give anyone else, a much deeper understanding of the business but also allow you to pinpoint the bits you love and then dig a bit deeper.

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