Meet Melanie Brownlow, the Entreprenista behind St. Moriz tan, on her quest for the perfect and affordable sun-kissed glow
Melanie sits down with us to chat about building St. Moriz tan, how they pivoted in 2020 (more hand sanitizer!), and how they are keeping up with fast growth (even the Queen of England took note).
Describe St. Moriz in a few words?
Innovative, fast paced and passionate about sunless tanning!
What made you take the leap to start your own business?
I could not find the right product for the right price, so I decided to create my own.
What was your background prior to starting your own business?
I have always been in the beauty industry working for companies like Gillette, Unilever, Coty and Boots Walgreens Alliance. My background is in sales, brand development and manufacturing, so I understood the basics of getting a product to market.
Did you always know you wanted to be an entrepreneur?
Yes, I always wanted to start my own business and create great products that really work for all bodies and skin types.
Take us back to when you first launched your business, what was your marketing strategy to get the word out and did it go as planned?
My inspiration was to create the perfect glow, which was affordable, easy to apply and smelled great. Initially we started with one product, it was picked up by a YouTube influencer and slowly became an instant success and started trending on Google, which was a big deal at the time. Our brand evolved by consumer demand, telling us ‘we need a dark mousse; we need a mist’ and so on. Today we have over 49 products for every skin and body type.
We always learn the most from our mistakes, share a time with us that you made a mistake or had a challenging time in business and what you learned from it?
When I first started, I was lucky to get a $150K order from a major retailer, I had no concept of how many pallets this would be. My original plan was that I was going to store them in my garage. Luckily, my friend and now business partner helped me out, we had over 100 pallets delivered in one week!
What is the accomplishment you are the most proud of to date?
Being awarded the Queen’s Award for International Trade, I was so proud that our business and team had been recognized by Her Majesty, the Queen. It was a wonderful experience going to Buckingham Palace and meeting Prince Charles, it truly was a real accolade for our business.
When hiring for your team, what is your go-to interview question? Please share any hiring tips you can share from your experience?
What will you bring to our business? How will you add value and help us to grow?
How has your business or industry been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic?
We manufacture all our products in our own factory. When COVID hit us last year in March, there was a shortage of hand sanitizer and we had lots of care homes and local hospitals ringing for help. We quickly switched our production from tan and started making sanitizer. We managed to keep all our local regions supplied for the rest of the year. We quickly implemented a COVID-19 safe environment for all our staff so that we could continue manufacturing throughout the year and thankfully did not have to make any of them redundant.
What’s next for your business? What can we expect to see over the next few years?
We are investing in our export markets like the USA and focusing on e-commerce which has seen a massive growth due to the pandemic. We will continue to innovate and drive the self-tanning category forward.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned in 2020?
Be nimble and flexible. Do not take anything for granted.
What do you know now that you wish you knew when you were first starting your business?
Employ people that share your values. They make a massive difference as they share the burden and help improve your business.
How have you managed to stay grounded this year?
COVID-19 has certainly kept me grounded this year. It has been very stressful keeping everyone feeling positive, safe and driving the business growth. Especially during three UK lockdowns and Brexit. I like to think that as a business we have faced the challenges as a team, and all pulled together.
Do you believe in work/life balance? What are some of your best tips?
Absolutely! I think it is essential in business so we make sure that we offer flexibility for our colleagues. In our business, family comes first. We also encourage our team to leave work on time and take regular holidays. It’s important to have thinking and resting time or your people and business will start to suffer.
What’s something our audience would be surprised to learn about you?
I was invited to the Queen’s Garden Party at Buckingham Palace and I took my mum, who had never been to London before. She was so excited and I was so proud to take her. Sadly, my mum passed away two years ago so this is a memory that I will cherish forever.
What are your top 3 tips to stay productive each day?
- Start the day with a strong coffee.
- Make any urgent phone calls before you leave work.
- List… I love a list; I try to highlight the top 3 things that I need to do each day. I try not to be driven by emails – I only check them two or three times a day.
What does being an Entreprenista mean to you?
For me, being an Entreprenista means using my passion to deliver quality, affordable, skin-loving beauty to consumers around the world. I’m driven by our customer feedback, when they share that our products have brightened their day and boosted their confidence, it reaffirms why I started St. Moriz in the first place.