Spectrum Cosmetics

Spectrum make-up brushes

How social media helped us turn our make-up start-up into an £8m business

Sisters Sophie and Hannah Pycroft tell us how social media has helped them turn the make-up accessories business they launched in their garage into an £8m business.

Ask any business mentor or advisor how to start getting word out about your new business and you can guarantee one of their first responses will be social media.

And the response is not surprising when you look at the statistics. Social media is big business. Facebook alone had over 30 million users in the UK last year with Instagram and Twitter both recording just under 20 million users.

If one thing is for sure, there is a huge pool of potential customers waiting to be tapped into for small businesses.

One of the companies really capitalising from this is Spectrum Collections, a cosmetics start-up launched by sisters Sophie and Hannah Pycroft from their home garage in Barry back in 2013.

The pair came up with the idea of launching the business, which manufactures and sells its own make-up brushes and accessories, whilst on a family holiday in Gran Canaria and decided that when they returned home to South Glamorgan, they would give it a go.

Today, they’re selling their make-up brushes, sets and accessories to customers across the globe.

“We were brainstorming with mum and dad around the poolside,” Sophie recalls. “We initially thought about starting a clothing brand but the start-up costs were proving too high.

“We had no outside funding to help us start the business, we saved and self-funded it with total start-up costs of £30,000.

“We really wanted to stay in Wales and knew that we would have to start our own business as there were no jobs for us.

“We started in Sophie’s garage in Barry and worked around the clock to make it a success.”

At first, they pumped all of their savings into getting the business off the ground and perfecting their product lines before they began to market the company through social media.

By using social media as a marketing tool, it was a cost-effective way of getting the business out there and it allowed them use all kinds of media from promotional videos to images and tutorials.

She added: “People love us because we're different. People love unicorns and mermaids as a way of saying they're not like everyone else.

“Social media was the most important way of advertising for us as when we first started Spectrum we didn’t have any money for advertising.”

Their brushes are now favoured by celebrities and make-up artists on Britain's most popular TV programmes such as TOWIE, Geordie Shore, MIC, Hollyoaks, X Factor and many more.

And as well as being aired on screen, they have also had ringing endorsements from some of the celebrities themselves from social influencer Lottie Tomlinson - sister of One Direction's Louis to catwalk model and TV presenter Abbey Clancy.

This has not only helped get their brand recognised but has also helped them create a cult following among their target market with over 200,000 followers on Instagram, 90,000 on Facebook and 33,000 on Twitter.

So, as well as marketing themselves at ‘mer-babes’ (mermaid babes) and proving a hit among celebrities, you may be wondering what else makes them stand out from other make up companies?

Sophie explains: “The fact that we are a vegan brand has also had a huge impact. We were one of the first companies to work with vegan hairs and vegan leathers.

“We also don’t have any investors, we make the decisions ourselves and we keep the brand true to how we would like it to be. We do all of the photography in-house as well which I think gives the brand a creative edge.

“Once you feel the super-soft bristles of our brushes, you’ll never go back!”

And looking to the future, Sophie and Hannah are hoping for more of the same as they look to continue growing their £8m make-up business.

Sophie concluded: “Looking ahead, we have lots of exciting things coming up and some collaborations with big brands that we're really looking forward to, 2017 will be an amazing year for us.”

Sophie’s top tips for entrepreneurs:

  • Work Hard.
  • Don’t give up.
  • Go with your gut.