Meet the women proving that beauty is big business


Frankie Graddon | The Pool

Did you know, the British beauty industry is thought to be worth a whopping £18bn? Did you also know, it employs around a million people? In fact, the health and beauty sector is predicted to be the fastest-growing sector over the next five years and, by 2020, will be worth £27.6bn.

Beauty is big business. However, unlike other key UK industries, such as sport, fashion and the arts, beauty does not have anyone representing it at governmental level. Why does this matter? Because this means that the issues facing the industry, and those who work in it, are not being heard. For such a valuable business (and contributor to the UK economy), this underrepresentation is surprising, to say the least.

This is exactly what the British Beauty Council has set out to change. Founded by industry heavyweights Millie Kendall MBE and Anna-Marie Solowij (founders of BeautyMART) and journalist Kate Shapland, along with communications expert Jane Boardman and publisher Catherine Hancock, the British Beauty Council is the first representative organisation for the beauty industry as a whole. Acting as a forum for those working in it – from hairdressers to therapists to manufacturers and suppliers – it aims to support the industry and champion its worth.

We believe that the British beauty industry currently has neither the reputation nor the representation it deserves. And we have big ambitions to ensure that this astonishingly underserved industry get recognition, opportunities and support

“The aim of the British Beauty Council is to work to engage politicians, business leaders and consumers about the value of our industry to the national economy, as well as its key role in the UK’s creative and cultural character,” explains Kendall.

The council will focus on three core areas: reputation, education and innovation. These will address promoting beauty as a profitable business, raising its profile in government, providing information on training in various sectors and funding to support it. It will also provide mentorships and offer support for entrepreneurs. Next year, the council will produce a report into the size and impact of the beauty industry on the British economy – something that, as of yet, hasn’t been done.

“We believe that the British beauty industry currently has neither the reputation nor the representation it deserves. And we have big ambitions to ensure that this astonishingly underserved industry get recognition, opportunities and support for growth worthy of its significant contribution to the UK economy,” says Jane Boardman, chair of the council.

Along with the five founders, the British Beauty Council has assembled some of the most influential names from every aspect of the beauty industry to sit on its advisory board. From world-famous make-up artists to game-changing digital entrepreneurs, The Pool got an exclusive first look at the women involved.


Ex-model and journalist Alexa Inge co-founded Cult Beauty in 2007. The e-tailer has become a go-to for hardcore beauty fans, thanks to its curated offering of recommended products. Last year, it turned over £67m and the business placed 7th in a league table of the UK’s fastest-growing companies.


Make-up artist Kay Montano has worked with several A-listers, including Julianne Moore, Rachel Weisz, Anne Hathaway, Zoë Kravitz, Jennifer Lawrence and Cara Delevingne, and is currently an ambassador for Chanel beauty. Along with actor and friend Thandie Newton, she is co-founder of, a platform that champions women of colour in media.


Founder of WAH Nails and Beautystack Sharmadean Reid is one of the beauty industry’s most celebrated entrepreneurs, having been awarded an MBE in 2015 for her services to beauty. Reid also founded Future Girl Corp, an organisation offering support and advice to the next generation of businesswomen.


With several awards under her belt, Sophia Hilton is a leading name in British hairdressing. Specialising in colour (she was named 2017 colour expert of the year), Hilton owns Not Another Salon in London’s Shoreditch and training facility Not Another Academy.


World-renowned make-up artist Mary Greenwell has worked with celebrities including Cate Blanchett, Jennifer Lawrence, Jessica Chastain and Cindy Crawford. During the 1980s, she worked with influential fashion photographers Patrick Demarchelier, Paolo Roversi and Peter Lindbergh, shooting for titles such as British and American Vogue. Greenwell is famed for doing Princess Diana’s make-up and, most recently, Meghan Markle’s.   


Skincare expert Caroline Hirons started her eponymous beauty blog in 2010, quickly becoming one of the industry’s leading online voices, known for her straight-talking advice. Her YouTube channel has been watched more than 13 million times.


With over 30 years experience in the beauty industry, Daniela Rinaldi is the co-chief operating officer at leading British department store Harvey Nichols.

Also joining the line-up are celebrated make-up artist and YouTuber Lisa Eldridge; This Works founder Kathy Phillips; photographer Liz Collins; world-famous hairstylist Sam McKnight; famed colourist Josh Wood; chief executive of the British Fashion Council Caroline Rush; photographer Robin Derrick; head of the London College of Fashion Frances Corner; Beauty Pie founder Marcia Kilgore; model David Gandy; founder of Beauty Seen Michelle Boon; and co-founder of Treatwell Lopo Champalimaud.

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