Hi, I’m Rachael Nsofor and the GM for FOREO UK.
Your involvement in the beauty industry goes way back – can you tell us about that journey?
I’ve always had a major interest in the beauty industry.
My first stab at it was setting up a cosmetic surgery holiday business with a friend of mine back in 2006. In short, Vanity Group was a huge learning curve. We got national press coverage (which was a big deal back then) and many clients.
FHE [Fabulous Hair Europe, a brand known for premium hair extensions] was a far easier concept and I knew, with little effort, I’d be able to make money quickly by establishing a brand.
I had a small shared factory in Guangzhou, China where we manufactured and packaged the hair; this was then resold through various distributions networks across UK and Africa.
So, what is it about the beauty world that you’re so passionate about?
I have always been active when it comes to the beauty world and have been at the forefront campaigning for more diversity within the industry.
When I was growing up, I remember finding it almost impossible to find products that were made for either my skin tone or hair texture, or even finding an advert with women that resembled me.
I feel over the last decade, the industry has dramatically changed and accepted diversity – you can see this in today’s big brand’ PR campaigns, right through to end user products.
So, your position with FOREO – how did that come about?
I had a Skype with the CEO back in summer of 2013, originally for a UK Sales Manager role. I remember asking him to reach back out to me if he ever decided to enter Africa. Four months later, I got a call and flew out to Shanghai to meet the team.
After a ten-hour flight, one day adjustment to an eight-hours ahead time zone, one day in a factory which resembled NASA (truly blown away), two-hour product and brand training, and a dinner which ended at around 3 am, I was hired.
It was at this point I felt a bit like Neo in the Matrix who had taken the red pill. I knew, from this point onwards, I was about to start the ride of my life. I came back to London pumped. I still have the same feeling after almost five years here.
When you first joined FOREO, you were focused on Middle East markets – what was that experience like? What challenges or opportunities did you identify?
The MEA was hugely challenging both logistically and culturally. I would say these were the two major hurdles at the start.
It was pretty tough back then to get anyone to even take a look at us especially as we didn’t have the budgets some other established brands had. It was just hard work and a lot of grit!
Tell us about your current position as UK GM – how are you enjoying the role?
Being GM is very different. FOREO offers continued learning which is a rare find from most employers. Each move will for sure place you out of your comfort zone which, for me, is an important part of my growth both personally and professionally.
Managing different types of people, understanding what the key drivers are for the business and employees and finding the balance in between is by far the main focus for me and as GM. The feeling of being given your own canvas to paint your very own Picasso picture is hugely rewarding. I never take it for granted and am hugely thankful for the opportunity.
Ava Paine is a beauty aficionado, amateur dancer and keen DIY master. This Aussie is far, far from home.