When Laura Mallows started out her beauty business from the dining room of her rented house, her idea was making products all about body positivity. Constantly battling with anxiety and body issues herself she wanted to create a range for ‘real’ people with ‘real’ bodies.
Three years on she has found the winning formula. Mallows Beauty is forecast to make £2.3m this year and the business has moved from the dining room table in her former Llantrisant home to a large warehouse, while her products sell all over the world and through some of the biggest beauty companies. And there are plans to expand even further.
It all started from Laura’s bid to overcome some of her own anxieties about her body and the world we live in. “I have suffered from bad acne, anxiety, and body issues all my life,” explained Laura. “There was pressure from the boys at school when I was young and then I went to work in the fashion industry in London and there was so much pressure. I was a skincare buyer and saw a lot of the negative side of the industry but I also learnt a lot about the products and what went into them. I have suffered with anxiety for most of my life and had no idea why I felt the way I felt or what it even was. Soon after I moved to London to work in buying I had a breakdown.”
The 31-year-old credits her amazing friends and boyfriend for helping her to get through that difficult time as she they helped her to learn how to develop habits into her life that helped her control her thoughts. Those habits revolved around a combination of exercise, puppy cuddles with her beloved dog, Artie, and “lots and lots of face masks”.
But her acne was still quite severe so using some of the knowledge she had learnt with her job in London, Laura became obsessed with researching skincare and spent all her money on testing new products. “I went from buying accessories to skincare and then started to develop my own products,” she said. “I became obsessed with buying, testing and trying products to try and cure my acne myself, as everything prescribed to me didn’t work. My skin is very sensitive so I ended up with raw burnt skin a lot, which I was so fed up with.
“I would stay up all night researching ingredients and products, and seeing how they worked on my skin. I ended up finding out over-the-counter ingredients that worked for me and wanted to put them all into one face mask/product and that’s really how Mallows Beauty was born.”
Laura also had a very definite vision: “I wanted to make something that promoted real bodies – not the photoshopped, Kardashian-perfect bodies we see so often. Perfect is not real. I am the guinea pig for all the products. Everything is tried out on me first to make sure it is the best. My aim was to pass on every trick I have learnt and deliver products that will help not hinder. I wanted to create a beauty brand that was brutally honest with no filter, all about body positivity and female empowerment. I want to make people feel good. Spots, cellulite, texture, pores, stretch marks are real and normal.”
Her first beauty product was launched in August 2020 and the company started strong with orders immediately coming in from several high street, big name stores, such as Skinny Dip and Harrods.
The business that started out small has been building thanks to the success of her TikTok videos and Instagram posts, with hundreds of thousands of followers on both. The company has a shop that has opened in St David’s shopping centre in Cardiff while Laura sells Mallows products across the world, including the US, and has had deals with major companies like Oliver Bonas and River Island.
With so many orders to deal with Laura’s fiancé Ronnie Bourne quit his job to take a full-time role in the business and the couple now employ 15 staff. “I was working from the dining room table but there were just too many orders and I couldn’t keep up so Ronnie came onboard,” said Laura. “He really believed in me from even before I had the idea, he was always saying you should set up a company, and gave me confidence when I was doubting myself! I actually had to begin with help from my parents to buy stock, before I could get a loan to prove to the bank my idea had merit! It was so scary, but so exciting when it all came together.
“We now have factories in the UK which produce the products to our formula and then we have a large distribution warehouse in south Wales. It is totally packed and we have plans to expand to another one in the near future. It can be hard keeping up sometimes.”
During this journey Laura also became a mum to Arabelle who is now 18 months old. She only took three weeks of maternity leave and admitted it was tough balancing business with motherhood but said she was getting there.
Laura has also learnt how to find a balance and recalls how one time she made £30,000 from a TikTok video she filmed in the garage while Arabelle was having a nap. “I am not going to lie – it has been tough,” said Laura. “I was only off for three weeks as things started to fall apart when I wasn’t there so I strapped Arabelle to me and carried on. It can be hard getting the balance and remembering to self-care but we are getting there.
“I am an expert now at Zoom calls while Arabelle plays in the background. She knows what to do and she is already learning lots of words from hearing us all speak. She is also a good excuse to actually switch off. I have learnt how to put work down and play with her or else I would be working all the time. Women can have it all but it is so hard.”
There are now plans to move to a bigger warehouse and Laura is also planning pop-up shops in different parts of the UK as well has continuing with her Cardiff store. “This year is going to be huge for us,” she said. “Last year was our best year in business as we learnt so much and we want to take those lessons forward.”
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