Spotting a gap in the market is a sure fire way of getting a new business venture off to a flying start.
And that’s just what West Midlands entrepreneur Rachel Westwood, aged 28, did when she launched the first product from her skincare business Skin Scientists.
‘Manceuticals’ is a brand of cosmeceuticals from Skin Scientists developed specifically for men. Its debut Wrinkle Relaxant Gel is already on sale in Harley Street as well as upmarket department stores in Milan, Stockholm, Copenhagen, Oslo, Dublin and Delhi.
Three new products – an advanced moisturiser, an eye bag gel and an aftershave balm, again all for men – will follow in the autumn.
Cosmeceuticals are skincare products designed to bridge the gap between plastic surgery and cosmetics. The Manceuticals gel is recommended for anti ageing and removing wrinkles and fine lines.
It contains an active ingredient called Argireline, which has been shown to mimic the actions of Botox and can reduce wrinkle depths by an average of 27 per cent within 30 days. Applied twice a day, the gel is fragrance free, leaves no residue on the skin and is also an effective moisturiser.
Rachel first came up with the idea for Manceuticals while working for a global cosmeceutical company based in Sydney, Australia.
She said: “The products were all for women with nobody developing cosmeceuticals that would satisfy the needs of men. I returned to the UK the following year and felt inspired to register Skin Scientists and pull together plans for my own business.
“Everything was new to me and it took 18 months of exceptionally hard work to get the Manceuticals gel off the ground. I knew I wanted to put the product through an advanced cycle of tests and needed good scientists to work on its development.
“I had little money and took a night shift job to help fund the business, which left me free to see people and drive product development during the day. On several occasions I found myself catching an hour’s sleep at the motorway services between my night shift and meetings in London.”
Rachel did manage to secure additional support from the University in her home town of Wolverhampton and Advantage West Midlands, the regional development agency for the West Midlands. She set up premises at Wolverhampton Science Park and started forging relationships with retail distributors.
Her product eventually passed stringent tests by the EU Scientific Committee and was officially launched in February 2007 at WholeMan, a male grooming store on London’s New Bond Street.
Rachel said: “I was so pleased with the end result. I knew I wanted my first product to contain breakthrough technology and rival some of the top brands on the market.
“Within weeks of Manceuticals being completed I was attending meetings with buyers of some of the top department stores in the UK and doctors on Harley Street. There have been positive reviews in the press and on TV and now international sales of the gel are really starting to take off.”
Rachel’s achievements have also earned her a prestigious Lord Stafford award in the Entrepreneurial Spirit category.
She said: “When I look back three years to when I first launched my business I am so pleased I never gave up. I have started doing some part time business mentoring for the universities that supported me and after dinner speaking so I can share my experiences with others. Hopefully they won’t make the same mistakes!
“Everyone involved with the Manceuticals brand is working hard on our new products and satisfying demand for our first, which is growing all the time. It has been worth all the effort and there is plenty of excitement still to come.”
Rachel is just one example of the entrepreneurial spirit at large within the West Midlands Region.
The recently published Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) reveals a 16 per cent increase in the levels of entrepreneurial activity in the West Midlands over the last five years, particularly among women and in both rural and urban areas.
The same study also shows early stage entrepreneurial activity among graduates and postgraduates in the West Midlands is much higher than the UK average.
To find out more about the West Midlands or for additional business / entrepreneurial case studies visit www.thewestmidlandsregion.co.uk
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