In today’s ‘Her Business Story here at A League of Her Own we interview Poppy Greenwood, the female founder behind Glow.Mo
Poppy tell A League of Her Own readers about Glow.Mo
Glow.Mo sells a small, but high quality amount of personally curated South Korean beauty (mostly skin care) products to the UK. South Korea is leading the skincare world right now, and no one in the UK seems to know it. Our motto, ‘Own the skin you’re in’ also shows our mission, to help educate UK beauty consumers more about their skin, to try get people to put their skin first and to consequently help bring down the rising levels of skin cancer in all, but specifically, younger generations. We are also about expanding people’s minds, and encouraging them to look further afield for the best of what beauty has to offer.
When did you start the business?
Officially we got funding March 9th 2017 for what Glow.Mo is today, an ecommerce site and blog. However the original Glow.Mo, which was just a sort of advisory site about products and a blog, was started July 2015 – the summer holidays after my first year at University.
What did you want to be when you were younger?
There was never one thing I wanted to be. I was a bit of a tomboy so being a princess or a singer never really occurred to me. I always felt like I might be a journalist, or a photographer. I went through a period of wanting to be a war reporter, which eventually I let go, to the relief of my family. Because I grew up in a couple different countries, and consequently was an extensively well travelled child, I had always thought I would do something that meant I got continue that lifestyle.
Then when we moved to the UK, I got hit with clinical depression and diagnosed at 14. A couple years later I moved to switzerland to do my IB, and like many who have suffered from mental illness I decided to help others who were going through it, and chose to do Psychology at Royal Holloway University of London. Fully intending to be a psychologist. Clearly that didn’t quite work out either.
What made you decide to become an entrepreneur?
So, half a year into my time at University I suffered the personal loss of a school friend – to complications after she had been ill for a while. (I would rather this if mentioned, only be very briefly.) She was my age, and like many after a loss I was angry with the world. The summer proceeding, I had the usual ‘summer tan’, ‘healthy glow’ ‘you look like a vampire’ rhetoric, that a person as pale as I am suffers from annually. Living in Switzerland, where there are proper summers, getting a tan was a real possibility.
But this year I had had enough. I had read, quite randomly, online that skin cancer rates were rising in my generation in the UK (and subsequent deaths) and after the pain of losing my friend, I didn’t want anyone else to lose theirs. According to one of my old psychologists, I have an ‘overdeveloped sense of compassion, especially a sensitivity to others pain’. Not sure how I quite feel about that, but the frustration I was feeling at that moment, against the world, against the tan and against the lack of skin care education in the UK led me to set up the original Glow.Mo site.
I knew from living in India for some years when I was younger, and travelling around Asia quite a bit, that skin care was much better in the east. Or at least there was more importance placed upon it, more of a focus on natural ingredients (think Ayurveda etc), and millions more people who were actually afraid of tanning and the sun. Something I felt that people in the UK could definitely do with. So safely from my bed (long empty summers and a recovering depressed person do not mix well), I scoured the internet, saw that the Korean’s were according to Marie Claire ‘a decade ahead’ and set up Glow.Mo on wordpress.
Halfway through my second year at University, I had a bit of a motivation crisis.
Since all I wanted to be working on was Glow.Mo, and I knew that recommending products and talking about their ingredients and what they do etc etc would be of no use if people couldn’t actually access them. Which meant I would have to set up shop, and import these products in. I hung on to the second year, and during the summer worked out how I would raise funds etc. Before in the beginning of the third year applying to Virgin Startup for a mentor and a loan. Which all worked out and here I am!
How long did it take for you to put your idea into action? What prompted you to act?
Once I got onto Virgin Startup it took my about 6 months to get funding – you can do it much faster but I was still trying to pass University. If we are talking the old glow.Mo than it would be about a year and a half, since first starting.
What has been your scariest moment as an entrepreneur?
My emotions can be a bit flat lined, (for obvious reasons) but walking into a boardroom full of other entrepreneurs – who all happened to be male, accomplished and much older than me, at Virgin HQ was pretty scary. I hadn’t felt that kind of nervous or completely out of my depth for a long time. (They were all extremely nice and welcoming just to say.)
Another scary moment before that was when my Dad told me ‘You have no experience, you’re too young, no one will take you seriously, you will never get funding.’ – This was scary because it made me reconsider, and not doing it seemed worse to me than doing it and it not working out. It also made me realise how completely alone you are when trying to raise a company. Which also made me disregard his comments, since he wasn’t the one trying to do it.
What has been your proudest moment?
When I got my first sale. A day before my 21st birthday and the first day after Glow.Mo had launched on Shopify.
What is the biggest lesson you have learned from founding your own company?
Swallow your pride, and be willing to embarrass yourself because you don’t know what you don’t know and there is a heroism in stumbling forward and trying anyway.
What does success mean to you?
It means having an impact for the better in someone else’s life. Cheesy I know, but being happy is the most important thing in this life, and helping someone safeguard or get a little closer to their own happiness is everything.
What one thing do you wish someone had told you when you first started out?
Things are not as inaccessible as they seem, if you want it you have to take it.
What’s the best piece of business advice someone has ever given you?
Even though you’re the founder, the customer can still fire you tomorrow.