A Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp helped to propel a new beauty brand to the next level, according to its husband and wife founders.

Photo of Mal and Mod founders

Louise and Dan Malcolmson have launched unisex skincare range Mal & Mod with the help of a £50,000 loan.

The business started as a hobby, with Louise and Dan working on the products when their children went to bed. After studying online courses in skincare formulation and organic cosmetic science and learning more about how to create creams, balms, lotions and cleansers, they spent a year practicing before launching the business, which now features four distinctive products.

The loan enabled the pair to put a strategy in place to launch and grow the business.

Louise said: “It enabled us to take our business to the next level. We had learnt about formulating and created our products in our own home however we wanted to connect with industry professionals in order to get the branding and manufacturing right.

“The loan allowed us to secure a three-month mentoring contract with a beauty expert who taught us about pricing strategies, legalities of the industry and all the extra bits you don’t even think about.  This was a real eye opener but well worth the investment. We had come this far, and we felt this was the next logical step and it was, otherwise we wouldn’t know who and how to even get a product out to market in the correct legal way.

“We had fantastic support and guidance throughout our application.  It was challenging but meant we had to consider our plans for the next three years and really think about our business model and plans moving forward.

“We were also introduced to other people specialising in all the areas we needed to get our business up and running.  We secured the manufacturer who we wanted who only opened his door to us because we had spent a year doing it on our own and learning about formulating.

“It really is an art that needs time, patience and perseverance. We are glad we spent the time learning about formulating to help us understand the types of products that we wanted to create.”

Photo of Mal and Mod products

But the business launch wasn’t without its hiccups. The duo had to change its brand name due to opposition in the industry. Louise says the challenges, providing they are overcome, are worth it in the long run.

She added: “When you get set on a name and a look to be told you have to change it you start to feel like the world is against you from launching. We kept believing that things happen for a reason and that the first two brands were not meant to be. The third one was! In the end the whole brand image was a lot stronger and actually matched the story behind it much better than the previous brands - it was a just a costly and timely set back but it got us to where we are now so in a way we are happy that we experienced and went through this tough time to make us stronger and learn more about the tough part of launching a skincare brand.

“Do not spend money on all your designs and packaging which is really tempting but wait until any trademarking has officially passed – it will save you a lot of money, time and heartache.  Don’t give up when you come up against setbacks and challenges – these will make you and your brand stronger in the long run.”

Louise and Dan’s tips to start-up success

  • Make sure you do your research on branding and don’t get your heart set on a brand image/logo until you get it trademarked (if you go down this route)
  • Don’t rush into anything, consider alternatives
  • Get expert advice from the industry sector you want to get into
  • Research the legalities relating to your business
  • Ensure you have the funds available to launch and then for after whilst you grow your brand – marketing can be expensive

Find out more about how a Start Up Loan from Virgin StartUp can set you on the road to success.