EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW: Millie Kendall O.B.E CEO of the British Beauty Council

By Millie Kendall on August 31st, 2022

CEO of the British Beauty Council, retail maven and brand creator, Millie Kendall has been instrumental in the success of cult brands including Shu Uemura, Aveda, Tweezerman, L’Occitane and Ruby & Millie. Having worked with the UK’s leading retailers, Millie has been creating and marketing beauty brands for the past 30 years. Millie was awarded an MBE in 2007 for her services to the cosmetic industry and an OBE in 2022 for services to the hair and beauty industry. Millie co-founded PR agency Brandstand Communications in 2015 followed in 2018 by the British Beauty Council, a non-profit organisation that aims to support a successful, innovative, and inclusive British beauty industry.

How do you feel the beauty industry has changed in the last 10 years?

I think a lot has changed, in terms of the services side of the business. More people are going freelance, more clients are booking online or through apps, so walk ins aren’t as relevant, local business in towns and villages are thriving due to more people working from home. Retail is becoming more experiential and e-commerce and social selling is growing and becoming more relevant. Customers are able to shop by price more readily with their phones being the go-to place for recommendations and reviews. The internet and content creators have meant that consumers are fully aware of ingredients they require and what those ingredients do. In essence all, of the above has put the choice in the hands of the consumer and it means as an industry we have to be more transparent about what we offer customers and clients.

Which of your many roles, brands and businesses have inspired and empowered you the most and why?

All of them really! When I launched brands like She Uemura, L’Occitane and Aveda back in the ‘90s they were renegade and different and the distribution channels were unique for the time. Launching Ruby & Millie in the late ‘90s was again quite unique and had a marketing concept that had never been seen before but has become common place now. I have always had a PR agency or some form of one and now with the British Beauty Council my love of beauty and my passion for politics has led me to creating the perfect job for myself.

What do you believe are the main challenges facing the professional beauty industry in the next few years?

There are many but they aren’t insurmountable. We need to adapt. We need to look at our premises and whether we need ground floor space with shop windows any longer. In NYC hair and beauty is very rarely on the ground floor and again a lot of people book via apps and online, so the premium cost of ground floor space might not be necessary. We need to look at how to harness the freelance community without it becoming detrimental to education and training, we need to look at further education and how the new T Levels can support the in-salon work experience and we need to look at our sustainability and energy consumption. One of the other challenges facing salons is tips; with a virtually cashless society it might be worth business owners and employees looking at tipping apps like thanku. We also need to promote our industry and the jobs available within it with confidence, so they are considered desirable and lucrative, attracting the best talent the UK has to offer.

Tell me more about what the British Beauty Council does and why is it important to get involved?

We are an advocacy group that is speaking to the highest levels of government and business leaders to champion the sector but also to future proof it. We need our workforce to join us to enable us to get the latest information about the challenges they face so that we can advocate on their behalf. Community is extremely important and I think we have proven that during Covid we galvanised a previously fragmented industry and this created a turnaround in terms of the linear perception of our industry by the government.

What advice would you offer any beauty professional considering building a brand?

Building a brand takes courage firstly but it is incredibly rewarding. I would encourage people to look at our social channels and website for webinars and video content. This one is a good one for entrepreneurs to watch.

What’s it like to get an MBE and an OBE?

I recently got an OBE, I was awarded an MBE back in 2007 both were pretty surreal. It was more intimate this time because of Covid. It’s an absolute honour to have been recognised for services to the cosmetics industry and then hair and beauty.

Find out more about The British Beauty Council at britishbeautycouncil.com. There are three levels of membership and Associate membership is free.

All image credits: Courtesy of The British Beauty Council

Millie Kendall

Millie is the founder and first CEO of the British Beauty Council. Millie has over 30 years of retail, brand, marketing and PR experience championing some of the beauty industry’s most exciting brands.

All articles by Millie Kendall

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