‘Boom…the most perfect curls of my life’
This is just one glowing endorsement for the beauty brand Only Curls, founded by Lizzie Carter 5 years ago.
OnlyCurls.com offer a selection of lightweight products for curly hair designed to reduce heat damage and over processing.
The range has been such as success because its founder is both passionate about curly hair and has her own mop of beautiful ringlets to contend with. Only this type of hands on experience can build a brand so successful as Only Curls.
TTT speak to Lizzie about her journey into the industry, how it has progressed and where she sees it going.
What makes Only Curls unique or new to the market space?
I founded Only Curls in 2016. I had noticed a gap in the market for a brand that really actively encouraged people with curly hair to embrace their curls. The trend at that time was the opposite, with beauty brands promising to help banish frizz and curls for sleek, smooth, glossy locks. This encouraged millions of women to damage their curls with extensive and endless heat damage.
I wanted to change this narrative and make curls FUN, and easy to manage. The goal was to help people get their best curls, by offering amazing products along with endless curl tips and advice. I also created a community around the brand which has helped set a trend and inspire others.
The products themselves were also something that was needed in the curly hair space. Our products are moisturising, yet lighter than most curly hair products. This means they create beautiful defined curls, without weighing them down.
What inspired you to start your own business?
I started the brand with my boyfriend, Hugo. We have completely different areas of expertise that we thought may work well together, we started the brand as a bit of an experiment! He has always managed the tech side of things, while I have been able to focus on branding, design and customer curl care support.
What were you doing before you started the business? how did you get here?
My background is in fashion design. I worked for brands both large and small throughout my 10-year design career. Being a designer is incredibly sales and business focussed. Even at a large brand you are responsible for designing great product in order to hit sales targets in your little department of that large corporation. I was constantly looking for trends and gaps in the market and developing product to fill these. I was able to take this experience and apply it to my own business when I had decided I had found a gap in the beauty sector. I went from bikinis to curly hair products, so it was an interesting pivot!! I’ve learnt a lot in the past 5 years.
Have you included any female focussed workplace policies or initiatives to help women in the workplace?
We have only this year begun expanding our team within the head office. We are currently predominantly a female driven workforce, but we wouldn’t discriminate by gender. As we grow our team, it is important to us to find the right people for the roles we have available, and ensure we have a diverse team to match our customer base.
Lizzie Carter, Only Curls Founder photographed.
Where do you see the brand going now? new markets? new products?
We are continuing to build our product range and still see opportunity here- I can’t stop developing and coming up with ideas, so we have lots of exciting things in work! The products are stocked in lots of salons across the UK, and we plan on stocking to more. Since we keep selling out on our website, we haven’t had the opportunity to bring many new salon partners on board this year, so we plan on expanding this area of the business next year.
We also have opportunity overseas, but we want to meet the UK demand before we embark on this!
What piece of advice would you give someone entering the beauty market space?
With Only Curls, we broke the mould and didn’t follow a traditional wholesale business model. We had no beauty industry or pr contacts so had to approach things a little differently. We utilised the changing social media landscape of Instagram and Tiktok, along with our lovely customers, to help market the brand and started with only £500 of savings- so basically my advice to those wanting to start a business- go for it! I think it’s so easy to think ‘oh I can’t do it because of X’, but there’s often a different approach that means you can get started,
Great product should always be the focus, and I would test first. Don’t give up your day job until you know it’s going to work! I ran Only Curls alongside a demanding full time job for 2 years before I was able to quit to focus on the business.
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As autumn approaches, I am featuring a series of female led beauty businesses on the TTT blog. These businesses all have strong female founders empowering the industry and providing an insight into the world of business ownership. With its lows comes some amazing highs and a lot of hard work. Check back weekly for more female focused business insights.