At Style of the City, we shine light on influential, determined and courageous Welsh women doing extraordinary things and giving back to our unique community.
We recently had the opportunity to speak to the Welsh sisters behind the incredibly successful Spectrum Collections, the fabulous beauty brand taking the world by storm. Launching their brand and designing products from their garage in Wales, Spectrum Collections has grown at an incredible rate, is loved by countless celebrities and their makeup brushes have been called the “World’s most Instagrammable”. We were excited to find out more about these incredible Welsh women.
Where did you get your inspiration to start the brand, Spectrum Collections?
We’re both from creative backgrounds; Hannah was working in the creative industries on graphic design, video, and also website production, and Sophie was a photographer, so we were inspired to create our own brand after seeing so many of the other brands we were creating content for become increasingly successful. We knew that we could create our own brand, we just needed a product. We had a bit of a lightbulb moment and realised that we could definitely put a creative spin on makeup brushes, as they were all really boring at the time when we started Spectrum, so we decided to be different and make them pink!
Another big driver to start the business was the fact that we both wanted to stay in Wales, and our freelance work meant that we were always having to go back and forth to London, so we thought we’d start our own business so we could stay and work at home in Wales.
All your products are cruelty-free and vegan, is that an important part of your design process?
Yes it is, there are restrictions that we have to work around but we’re happy to do so. The design process isn’t affected too much, there are alternatives to every natural product these days! The main challenge is maintaining the really amazing quality level we have with synthetic materials.
All of your products are stunning, we especially love the striking look of your makeup brushes. Have you always been interested in beauty and make up?
Yes, we’ve always been into fashion and beauty, and Spectrum as a brand brings those two things together, which are our two favourite things, so every day is a dream!
What was the toughest part about setting up the Spectrum Collections brand?
That would be starting a business with no financial backing, no mentors or support from someone who had knowledge of an online business, no real experience of managing a brand or what it takes to do so, never mind the ins and outs of producing and then importing a product from China! It’s really difficult to pin point one element that was harder than the rest when setting up the brand, but the toughest part was definitely being isolated in the garage for around 12 hours a day for the first two years of running the business; we’re just glad we had each other to keep us going. We sacrificed most of our lives for those two years, we barely came out of the garage, there aren’t even any pictures of us really for that time of our lives, we call them ‘the lost years’. We were really determined to make a success of the business and we could see the potential. Persistence was definitely key!
You’ve worked with a lot of big names including Holly Willoughby, Abbey Clancy and America’s Next Top Model; what would you say has been your biggest achievement and personal highlight?
We both agree that launching a collection with Disney was one of, if not the highlight for us to date. To be recognised by a brand as big as Disney and given the opportunity to work with them on a product range really was a dream come true. We’re planning lots more Disney launches for 2019 too, so there’s plenty more to come.
You still live and work in Wales, where you grew up. What was it that made you stay in Wales as opposed to setting up the business from London?
We were determined to stay in Wales, it was a really strong factor in why we set up the business initially. We love Wales, we always want to stay here and with the business being primarily online, there’s no reason why that can’t be the case.
What advice would you give to other women looking to set up their own company?
Really make sure you’re ready to give up everything in order to make a successful business, that includes wages (we put all our freelance wages back into the business for the first two years), social life, holidays. Thankfully we had understanding partners and our family were really supportive too, although when we weren’t really selling anything for the first 6 months we often got asked, “Are you still keeping the business going then girls or trying something else?”. We always said, “Yes, we are going to keep it going”, so another piece of advice is to really believe in your business.
What can we expect to see from Spectrum Collections next?
We’ve got plenty more coming for this year, which is all very exciting. The biggest launch for us coming this year is cosmetics. We’ve been working on them for two years and we’re nearly there so that will be a new addition to our spectrum of products.
We recently met with Sophie and Hannah for an interview which you can watch on our Youtube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G-aDg9oPPvc