Whether you’re a make-up artist or a painter, getting the right tools for the job is vital. But finding the best make-up brush isn’t easy, so sisters Sophie and Hannah Pycroft took matters into their own hands and launched their company Spectrum Collections seven years ago from a garage in Barry, South Wales.
Sabi Phagura caught up with Sophie and Hannah to learn the Spectrum Collections story, which is now a globally recognised brand and discover what these two young ladies have planned for the future and how they’ll be helping to make the world a more beautiful place.
LM: Tell us how did you come up with the idea of launching your beauty brand in an already crowded market?
Sophie and Hannah Pycroft: We took a completely different route to how you might typically start a business as we did everything from a consumer’s perspective rather than from a business point of view. We designed products, set prices and set standards with our customers being at the heart of the decision-making processes.
The majority of market research we did was with family and friends who we knew would give us an honest opinion. Most of the time, when making a decision, it came down to ‘would we buy it?’ and ‘What would we pay?’. As discerning (fussy) customers, we knew if we thought a product was exciting and aspirational to us whilst also offered good value, then there was no reason that it wouldn’t be a hit with a wider audience.
It was a gift to be so naive about starting a business, it meant we had no fear and a crowded market didn’t occur to us. We’ve trusted our gut since day one and done what we think is right for the brand.
LM: What sets Spectrum apart from other leading make-up brush companies?
S&H: We’ve often put detail and quality above our bottom line, and a lot of the time, we’ve taken a hit on the margins in order to create something that truly stands out against our competitors. As a result, in a busy market, we think this is what makes us industry leaders at what we do. We also have many celebrity fans, which include Little Mix, Abbey Clancy and Jourdan Dunn.
LM: We understand your products are vegan and cruelty-free. Can you tell us a bit more about this?
S&H: This is part of our brand DNA, and we’re incredibly proud of our status as a vegan and cruelty-free company since day one. It comes down to spending a bit more time tweaking and perfecting formulas and products because, ultimately, we don’t expect our customers to choose between quality or ethics when purchasing their beauty treats. We pride ourselves on knowing that customers always get both with us.
LM: How and where are your products manufactured?
S&H: Our design process takes place in our HQ in South Wales. We design everything meticulously in-house, which is so much fun, then we work with our suppliers across lots of different countries. Originally, we made everything in China, but when we were researching our make-up line and launching that, we felt more comfortable with suppliers based in the EU.
We’ve also expanded our supply chain to include Taiwan for its innovative packaging options and Thailand for its technical abilities to meet our high standards. We also manufacture in the UK too, and all our vegan brush soaps, which are a customer favourite, are currently made in the UK. Logistically it’s a lot to manage, but we’ll keep sourcing from suppliers who we feel are the best fit for us, but that’s not always easy!
LM: So many brushes! Tell us why it is important to have so many different ones?
S&H: The main reason for a variety of tools in your’ brush wardrobe’ would be so you can pick the best one for the product and for your own personal style of make-up application, depending on what you need on what day.
For example, if you are in a rush, then reach for bigger brushes which mean less room for error when it comes to blending and faster application. But if you’re taking more time, then smaller brushes lend themselves to more precise application and arguably a better finish.
Some days though, we just don’t have enough time to wash our brushes as often as we should, so we are guilty of reaching for a fresh brush rather than washing them religiously, but no one is perfect!
LM: We’ve seen many studies indicating that during the lockdown, most people adopted a more ‘natural look’. Did you find that the lockdown affected your business as a result?
S&H: We were so lucky that during the lockdowns, our overall business improved, but that being said, we have always championed a more wearable approach to make-up. It’s more about having fun and being creative than a daily chore, so we connected with our audience and encouraged everyone to look at their make-up collection as a kind of therapy.
With the online beauty community, in general, becoming a lot more supportive rather than judgmental of each other, trying something new with make-up like a fresh colour or a new product is actually a great way to lift your mood. We’ve all needed a little lift, and who doesn’t feel that bit better with a bold lip or a flick of eyeliner?
LM: Now that we see shops open again, what is business like now? Have you noticed people’s approach to beauty products has changed over the last 15 months?
S&H: It’s been more noticeable for us in the way we work with our high street retailers. To be honest, we’re still waiting for customers to return in their full numbers to the high street, but we’ve diversified a lot with our partners both online and in-store. We’re aiming to give our customers enough options where they can purchase our products with ease, and so far, this seems to be the best route for us.
LM: Where can we expect to buy your products, and what’s next for Spectrum?
S&H: Of course, you can pick up a selection of products at our pink pop up at Bicester Village, and usually, our website is the first place you can expect to find new launches.
We’re launching with more retailers here in the UK, the EU and also the USA. Next, we’re hoping to launch into travel retail so we can become a truly global brand. We say our aim is to take over the beauty world one make-up brush at a time, and thankfully, we’re well on the way to making that a reality.
Spectrum – Where and How?
The Spectrum range is distributed widely and has teamed up with a range of partners, including Boots, Superdrug, Beauty Bay, ASOS, Zalando, and Amazon. For more information on the brand, head to www.spectrumcollections.com.
Read more exclusive interviews by Sabi Phagura here.