I love an underdog story. Rooting for the little guy to overcome challenges and become strong in the face of adversity is something I think most of us can relate to…now that I think of it, isn’t that the plot of most Disney films? I guess that might have something to do with it! This week, I’ve been learning about another story. Except, unlike the movies, this one is real. In this story, a small company rocketed to success and then almost as quickly, lost it all, only to later re-emerge and become even more triumphant. Intrigued? So was I…
Tales of success, loss and re-birth are even more interesting when they involve people or companies that you already feel invested in. I root for them even more! Earlier this week, I was invited to attend the Scottish book launch for Danger! Cosmetics To Go, the first ever book from LUSH cosmetics. The book charts the rise and fall of Cosmetics to Go, the company that preceded LUSH as we know it today. I’ve been a happy LUSH customer for several years now, but I had no idea that a book was in the works – not to mention one with such a powerful story to tell.
At the launch I chatted with Mira Manga, the author of the book and all-round superwoman. Mira explained that she was commissioned to write the book by Mark Constantine (OBE, LUSH Co-founder and managing director) after he read some of Mira’s self-penned dating disasters!
Although the book is about the company – and a huge part of that is the products, which were (and still are) innovative and way ahead of their time – the book is also about the people behind the company and their thoughts and feelings. Anyone that has ever shopped in LUSH will be all too aware of that friendly, personal experience that LUSH, its stores and it’s people offer. But they weren’t always the massive success that they are now. The brainchild of a beautician and a herbal hair doctor, Cosmetics to Go were a mail-order cosmetics company that shot to fame by revolutionising beauty products and making people smile with their creations.
A strike against boring bath times, these bath bombs wooed even the most reluctant bather to make pilgramage to the tub where they would oooh! and ahhh! as spheres of sizzling delight were unleashed to effervesce furiously.
After six short (but impressive!) years, the company collapsed following their Summer Sale of 1993. This is the part of the story that is pretty devastating – but things always tend to get worse before they get better. The company re-built and re-branded itself as LUSH, rising like a delicious-smelling phoenix (how’s THAT for powerful imagery?!).
With Mira Manga
I’ve always admired LUSH for their products, ethos, branding and customer service, but upon discovering their backstory I now have even more respect for them. The book itself is beautiful, colourful; an artfully designed ‘scrapbook’ which features original designs and photographs from the Cosmetics to Go days. But aside from looking pretty, it’s also a great case study of a company that triumphed over failure and didn’t give up, even when things became bleak.
At the launch, I learned all about the process of creating the book (written in 23 months!) from Mira and the invention of the products that went on to become LUSH’s most iconic best-sellers. The team at LUSH Buchanan Street were also on hand and were total rockstars for making everyone feel pampered and very welcome! All year round, the store is a delight, but I find that at Christmas LUSH really pulls out the big guns and this year is no exception. I learned all about what goodies they have lined up for this year, with three main collections (the glitter-tastic Ziggy Stardust range is my favourite) and the return of old faithfuls – including Snow Fairy (AKA girlcrack) and the yummy handmade soaps.
Danger! Cosmetics To Go is available in LUSH stores and online. Whether you’re a fan of LUSH products or just interested in reading a real-life tale of the little guys finally making it, it’s worth picking up a copy.
…even a traumatic ending can lead to new adventures and beginnings
Inspired by brains, bravery and bath bubbles,
Miss West End Girl x
Thank you very much to Mira, Olivia and the team at LUSH Buchanan Street! You guys are awesome.