Have you ever thought about making your own beauty products? or starting your own skincare brand? It’s a dream a lot of people can relate to; turning your lifelong passion into a fully fledged business and working for yourself. Few people take the leap and make their dreams a reality, but in 2010 Julie Raines did just that, and we caught up with her to talk about her journey and how she’s innovating the skincare industry.
Tell us about your career background
I started training in 1979. Back then all beauty courses were at private schools and the fees were expensive. For a 16 year old girl from Basingstoke I knew that training wasn’t going to be easy, particularly as my Father and teachers totally disapproved of my career choice. Luckily, fate played a huge role and after a chance encounter at my local careers office I was offered an apprenticeship with Susanne Neville, a local Beauty Trainer who was way ahead of her time. Under her guidance I quickly found I had an aptitude for massage, making masks and blending essential oils. We were trained to make basic cleansers and even our own depilatory wax.
I remained with Susanne, worked my way up and eventually purchased the salon I worked in and became my own boss. I have been involved in beauty ever since, as a trainer in adult education and as a mobile therapist. Then in the 1990’s when my son’s were 8 and 4 I opened another salon. I had access to great products and experienced a very exciting time in product development. Serums were coming in and there were new peels and things called AHA’s!
What gave you the idea to start Charlie Locks?
Part frustration, part passion. In the naughties I became very concerned about how product ranges and treatments were becoming so automated, it all seemed so mechanical. I didn’t want to perform the same facial to the same prescription every time the client had a treatment. I wanted to assess and make the treatment bespoke considering the person as a whole not a skin type. For me there was nothing skilful about replicating the exact facial time and time again. I was also deeply concerned when professional brands started to turn up in supermarkets and then on the internet. So I took the decision to not have a professional brand in my salon and started making my own as I had done in my training days. My client’s loved the fact I was literally making the product as they were lying on the couch. I couldn’t sell them as they were pretty unsophisticated and had no preservatives but it was very productive as I learnt what worked and it was invaluable research and development on real clients.
How did you turn your idea into a business? what steps did you take?
This was the most daunting and difficult part and without my husband Mark I am not sure it would have happened. He went through every manufacturer in the UK no one was interested. The minimum order quantities and costs were astronomical, but we persevered and found someone who would give us a starter run. This gave us the minimum we needed to get started and see what clients thought. Our intention at this point was to provide me and my clients with a reliable salon quality treatment product and support my retail stream in the salon. Little did I know then that they would be so popular, the brand grew organically and we started producing on a larger scale.
What were the biggest challenges you have faced?
We had just began to gain traction in 2010 but one fateful day, on the way to a photo shoot, we were involved in the most horrific car crash. We suffered serious injury and it set us back considerably while I returned to health. But out of the ashes I grew more determined to build the Charlie Locks brand we have today.
What have been your biggest achievements to date?
Regaining my health and determination to start again. Getting recognition for the quality of our products; we control everything from production to filling here from our base in Hampshire. I also get to work with my husband who looks after every aspect of the commercial side of the business leaving me free to create and develop the treatment and product lines.
What is your best selling product? and why?
To my utter joy the cleansing balm. I created it thinking how great it would be in professional treatments, never anticipating that clients would love it as much and want to use it at home. I think there are several reasons for this; the price for 50g is £13 and the quality of the essential oils is on par with much more expensive brands. Clients tell us it’s as good as any that are 34 times the cost and a great cleanse.
What are your plans for the future?
We want to see as much of the range in pouches. Other industries are way ahead in this area. Particularly baby and pet foods. We want to continue developing the product range, packaging and ingredients. I truly believe pouches keep the products fresher (so important for natural and organic products.) Professionally for the mobile therapist they are lighter and they still have fantastic dressing table appeal for retailing. Also to promote our “it’s what’s in the product and not what it’s in” philosophy. We want to continue improving the treatment benefits of Charlie Locks and fly the flag that quality doesn’t have to cost the earth.
Yes we’ve noticed some of your products are packaged in pouches. We love that, tell us more.
We truly feel that packaging the Charlie Locks Professional Skincare System™ into our bespoke pouches showcases the future of the beauty industry. Pouches comprise significantly less packaging than inflexible containers, in some cases reducing the material used by up to 95%. This is better for our environment because it decreases the number of transport vehicles on the road and reduces the amount of waste produced by empty bottles and jars.
Not only that, but our unique pouches come with an easy to use flip-top lid which allows you to open and close the product with one hand and reduces the potential for spillage. they are also lighter, extremely durable and provide excellent value for money as all the product is easily removed from the pouch right to the very last drop.
We firmly believe that the value of our Charlie Locks Professional Skincare System™ lies in the products themselves and not just in their containers. It’s about what is in it, not what it’s in.
What advice would you give to anyone considering starting their own skincare range?
Have a thorough business plan and analyse your assumptions. Develop a skin (no pun intended) as thick as rhinoceros because for every positive comment there will be umpteen negative. But stick to your beliefs whatever your business. Likewise, never let age hold you back. In the early days I was told I was too young and now I get told I’m too old and should have ‘done it by now’!
Hence our #TheArtofPositiveAgeing
If you would like to experience Charlie Locks skincare first hand why not pop along to one of the brands ‘Gloop Nights’. These events give you the opportunity to discover the product making process, education on common skincare ingredients, and experience a demonstration of a professional skincare treatment. At the event you will be able to take advantage of a 10% discount for product purchases. For further information or bookings via firstname.lastname@example.org or telephone 01962 777 522.