In Conversation With: Lisa-Marie Sexton, Founder Of Bolt Beauty

Your brand is launching on the 23rd March but what is Bolt Beauty?

Bolt Beauty is all about on-the-go skincare.  It’s a full skincare regime that’s designed to be used wherever you are, with zero hassle.

We have also built sustainability into the heart of the business: our single-dose skincare capsules are biodegradable and made from seaweed; we’ll offer a circular packaging solution; and we will be carbon neutral across our manufacture, operations, and distribution.

Was it challenging to bring your skincare concept to fruition? 


Definitely yes!  The hardest part has been the lead up to launch.  Our whole ethos is around living an “on-the-go” lifestyle – normally we (and hopefully our customers) enjoy working-out before work, mini-breaks, and sleepovers. Our product is designed to fit into this lifestyle. Never could I have predicted that I’d be starting this business in the middle of a pandemic.

One of the greatest challenges was deciding whether or not to launch right now.  Is it appropriate? Are people interested? What is the alternative? I have decided to go ahead – without knowing if this is the right thing to do – because I don’t know what a better alternative is.  If I delay, my supply chain (including small businesses and freelancers) won’t get paid. If I delay, when will the “right” time be? There is too much uncertainty to know when the end of this scary time will be.  So, I’m being brave and going ahead not knowing how things will work out. I love the Marie Curie quote “nothing in life is to be feared, it is only to be understood”; I think this teaches us a lot right now. By launching, we face our fear of beginning something in the middle of uncertainty.  In the process, I really hope we can bring some joy and positive energy to the people we work with and our customers.

Have you always been interested in skincare?

Absolutely.  When I was 11 or 12, I used to do chores for my mum (for about 50p an hour) so I could save up for the Eve Lom Cleansing Balm.  That’s a lot of ironing for a facewash!

I love the ritual of skincare: it’s part of the beginning and end of your day; it reminds you to care for yourself; and it should make you feel good.  Maintaining a good skincare regime is very important to me. I think this is why I found it really frustrating to not have my skincare with me when I need it (outside of my bathroom). I would sacrifice the things I enjoyed doing – like working-out before work – because I didn’t want to carry a heavy set of skincare products with me.  I want to be able to maintain a great skincare regime wherever I need it, without any hassle.

Where did the name, Bolt Beauty, come from?

It came in a flash… Just kidding.  It actually took a long time to decide on Bolt Beauty.  I wanted it to represent the lifestyle I – and I think lots of us – lead.  It’s about having people to see, and places to be, so you bolt out the door to live your life.


 

How did you choose the first four capsules?

The initial range is split into: (1) two skincare essentials – a cleanser and a moisturiser; and (2) two treatments – a mattifier and a retinol.  Each of the products is really beautiful to use and each capsule is designed to be the right amount for a single application.


To me, cleansing and moisturising are non-negotiables and so it made sense to ensure the initial range included these crucial steps.  Our cleanser, Filthy Clean, is very gentle and is designed not to strip your skin of its natural oils. We have included Margosa extract, which has been used for centuries in Ayurvedic medicine for its antibacterial properties, Turmeric Root Extract and Ginger Root Extract for their antioxidant properties, and Bisabolol (from chamomile) to calm skin.  Our moisturiser, Mad About Moisture, uses Camellia Japonica Seed Oil (from the beautiful plant) as an emollient, and two molecular weights of Hyaluronic Acid to attract and maintain moisture. It also includes ingredients with antioxidant properties to help repair skin damage caused by oxidative stress.

For our two treatments, we first have our mattifier, Glow Don’t Shine.  Glow Don’t Shine is designed to be used between cleansing and moisturising and forms part of our three-step morning routine.  It reduces the surface oil on our skin (in trials by 21% in four weeks), and combats breakouts (by >40% in four weeks). Secondly, we have Vitamin A Game, our retinol treatment which is designed to be used between cleansing and moisturising in the evening (note that, slightly confusingly, Retinol is a form of Vitamin A).  It’s a 0.15% pure retinol (so low enough dosage for new retinol users or those of us with more sensitive skin) with Vitamin E as an antioxidant. Retinol has been consistently shown by scientific studies to deliver incredible results. Expect brighter, firmer, smoother skin; a reduction in fine lines and pigmentation; and clearer, blemish-free skin. Seriously, Vitamin A is the ingredient to incorporate into your skincare regime.

We will definitely be bringing out more products – in particular, I would love to have an on-the-go sunscreen – so watch this space!  (We’ll also happily listen to any requests or ideas, so please send them to us at hello@bolt-beauty.com).

I love that your capsules are made from seaweed – was this hard to source?

They are made from a red and purple seaweed called Carrageenan.  It’s widely produced across the world – in particular, in places like The Philippines, Indonesia, and Tanzania and so currently there isn’t a shortage of it.

Some great facts about carrageenan:

It helps support a livelihood for poor coastal communities.  Families can supplement their income with seaweed production and so can help improve their quality of life.

Seaweed is a carbon sink (just like trees).

Seaweed helps combat the acidification and deoxygenation of the oceans (two of the risks to oceans caused by rising global temperatures).

So, I think it’s a pretty great crop.

Did your previous jobs prepare you for a career as an entrepreneur in any way?

I am a corporate lawyer by background, and it prepared me in some ways but left me completely unprepared in many others.  On the positives: I learned to project manage, juggle lots of moving parts, and approach things analytically. However, it also meant that I was extremely risk averse, and less creative than I have become. 

I don’t think anything fully prepares you to start a business.  There will be curveballs that nothing can prepare you for (e.g. the current global pandemic).  However, I truly believe with hard work and perseverance, we’re able to do things that exceed our expectation of ourselves.

How important do you think it is that people support small brands right now?

So important.  Please do support them / us.

I understand that it’s not an option for everyone to carry on spending – it’s a tough time for so many people.  However, if you are able to afford it, please consider who you’re buying from. Small businesses don’t necessarily have the capital reserves or access to capital that larger businesses may have.  Small business owners have also probably risked their savings to create their business and much of what they have is tied up in it. Supporting them will benefit all of us in the long run. I imagine my local high street without its (family-owned) bakery or (local) grocery store, and emotionally, it would be sad to see them go, but practically, I rely on them in normal times.  I don’t want to come out of this crisis and be without the businesses I want to use in normal times.

I don’t think it’s easy for larger businesses either.  They have large infrastructures to pay for – including, crucially, staff costs.  We need them to keep going too. I am just trying to reflect on what I’m purchasing, and who it’s from.  By making considered purchases, I hope we can all support each other to get through this.
 

Can you share one tip to anyone else out there who might want to start their own business in the current economic climate?

Think long and hard about whether you really want to do it (regardless of the economic climate).  It’s not for everyone and I think it’s more about personality than capability.

As a heads up, it’s really hard work, emotionally all-consuming, and sometimes quite lonely.  I wasn’t expecting the loneliness, but I went from working in a large organisation where every decision was made by committee to being by myself and making hundreds of solo decisions a day.  I don’t have anyone reassuring me that I made the right call; and equally, I only have myself to blame if I make a bad decision. This is something I wasn’t prepared for.

So, my tip is to reflect on whether you think you’re the type of person who could thrive in a chaotic, uncertain situation and be motivated enough to get up every day and carry on.  If you are, then go for it.

(I’d also recommend reading The Hard Thing About Hard Things by Ben Horowitz, which covers the full cycle of ups and downs.  It’s the best book I read about what the journey would be like.)

Lastly, where do you hope Bolt Beauty will be in five years?

I hope Bolt Beauty will be thriving.  I would love to build a great team; expand the product range; and have lots of happy customers.  I hope we can empower women to have great skincare wherever they are – we shouldn’t be limited by practical stuff like a skincare regime.  I believe we can make a difference to the environment: by building a company rooted in sustainability, I hope we can contribute to a better world.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.