• The Business Owner

Meet Hannah Barrett

- Owner and Founder at Saint Monica Aromatherapy and Eze – Stockbridge Perfumery -


Sharing and community is the back bone of The Business Owner and showcasing and learning from some brilliant business owners that we've met on our journey is one of our favourite features. This one is no different, as we learn about how the business is run, how it started and more great tips that can be carried over into your own businesses.


Get stuck in a enjoy -


Q1 - What was your first job/role after education?

My first ‘proper’ job after leaving college was as a Health Care assistant working with the elderly and Dementia. I had never thought it was a job I could do, but I had sadly lost a friend to illness when we were at college and it made me think about doing something more wholesome & meaningful than continuing my training to be an actress, which I had always my heart set on! A brand-new care home was opening nearby and I applied.


Q2 - What is your current role and what is your favourite part about it?

I now have my own business and design boutique skincare and perfumes. I design the cosmetics and fragrances and absolutely love every part of it, however my favourite part has to be the bespoke service we offer as part of our perfumery business model. We design custom perfume based on a client’s specific wants, memories, or experiences.


It’s like art to me, you start with a concept that can become anything, and every person’s perception of a scent is so different to the last, its completely fascinating and most importantly… it’s so much fun, being creative and making something so very special and unique for someone. We do the same with businesses for their own products, or branding, its just wonderful.


Q3 - Are you optimistic, realistic or pessimistic about 2022?

We are very aware as a business that we face an uphill struggle in 2022, we as a nation have huge cost of living changes ahead and people will be adapting back to pre-pandemic ways of living and spending, so lesser-known luxury cosmetic businesses will have to fight harder to make themselves known in the market. But that doesn’t make me pessimistic whatsoever, were are very fortunate to have a Highstreet location which welcomes high-end independent/boutique businesses which thrives on its own affluent local market as well as being a popular tourist spot during the summer. We are lucky to have natural footfall and roadside advertising whilst we continue to build our brand online and further afield with other retailers.


Q4 - What changes or challenges do you foresee for your company in the next three years?

We plan on growth, so intend on upscaling our production methods and facilities in the next three years as well as the products available and always adapting to market response.

We plan on separating the two arms of the business (Eze – Stockbridge Perfumery and Saint Monica) to operate independently which will also be a huge change that we plan on in the next three years.


The largest challenge we envisage is the industry itself being monopolised by large companies, with even bigger reputations, being a small new brand, we are realistic about the time it may take for the brand to gain the notoriety it deserves.


Q5 - What is the inspiration behind your product/service?

I decided to turn a hobby into a business, how cliché!


I have always loved beauty and cosmetics and dabbled in and out of beauty therapy alongside my day job in healthcare. I designed my own products during this time because I wanted a product that held therapeutic properties after specific treatments. I do not believe there is any reason for skincare to be synthetic. All the cleansers and moisturisers we could possibly ever need occur on the planet naturally. That’s the only reason the ingredients are ‘all natural’. People care about what goes onto their bodies so I needed to understand exactly what was going into my products. The feedback on my ‘home-made’ skincare was so positive, that I decided to make a business from it.


The perfumery developed out of the aromatherapy, I loved blending and creating beautiful fragrance as well as therapeutic blends. So I knuckled down and read every book I could get my hands on, every resource, and the ingredients I used to create perfumes diversified hugely - so our perfumes aren’t strictly ‘all natural’, like the skincare, because fragrance is so complex, perfumes need to last on the skin, notes need to sparkle, and customers should experience their many different layers. For this reason, we have treated them as a separate entity to avoid confusion.


Q6 - What do you want to achieve by bringing this product/service to market?

I want to achieve luxury high end products that really work for our customers, whilst keeping the personal small-batch style of our brand.


I find the surge in gin distilleries a good comparison here – craft gins no longer mean they are homemade, craft gin has a luxury, artistic feel that is so transferrable to botanical or natural skin care and perfumery.


Q7 - If you could instantly change one area/thing about your business, what would it be?

We opened the shop/brand, Saint Monica originally as an ‘aromatherapy’ brand, because the products made and sold are designed with therapeutic properties for the skin. However, we learned quickly that there is large number of people who were misled by the word ‘aromatherapy’ and believed us to be a health foods ‘Holland & Barrett’ type store or holistic remedies.


So, we have recently removed that word from our store signage and are leaning more towards beauty & cosmetics now opposed to aromatherapy, which has been quite a natural progression with the addition of the perfumery, but still it makes me wonder if our very early client base might have looked different.


Q8 - What is the most important task you carry out each day?

As a small business owner, and the sole employee at this stage everything is equally important to me!


Product standards, product improvement, customer relations, networking with other professionals and businesses, online and social, working with our web developer on our new site, product awareness and reach, developing new products for both our existing portfolio and for bespoke clients, ensuring compliance, designing labels and packaging, store aesthetics, trying to educate myself and stay on the ball with ever changing trends on social media…


Q9 - What other challenges do your foresee for your products?

The biggest challenge we foresee is upscaling production of perfume and skincare whilst keeping the small-batch quality.


Q10 - How would you describe your management style?

My management style has always been participative, I am hands on and flexible with ways of working. I would always consult with my team in my previous line of work on matters relating to operational or quality.


Q11 - Who are your leadership role models?

This is going to sound cheesy but listening to Jay Shetty changed my life. His teachings inspired me to be brave enough to start my business and taught me to trust my values and stop wasting time trying to make a square job fit my circle life (if that makes any sense!?).


Shetty teaches perseverance, but in the right places. He teaches gratitude, and he teaches purpose. I find it totally inspiring, and a source I have found myself going back to when I have felt like I need a coach and a role model.


Q12 - What motivates you every day?

I truly believe in the skincare and perfume products I design; I use them every day myself, and the feedback we are getting from our customers and professionals (who have spent years using big-brand luxury products) speaks for itself.


We have designed some special products and know they as good, if not better than the luxury products you see in high end department stores, and there is no reason why they cant be there one day. Every ingredient is selected mindfully to be of the highest quality, whist also adhering to our own strict code of ethics.


Also, as I have mentioned, part of our perfumery business model is a bespoke service, where we design a custom perfume based on a clients specific wants, memories or experiences. This motivates us every day because we can be creative and offer a personal, face to face service that is ordinarily out of reach for most people. This is a very special element of our business that motivates me every day to push further and grow.


Q13 - What is the most stressful task in your current role?

The most stressful task in my current role, like any business owner in their early days is juggling priorities to grow the business. I would like to be out and about showcasing our products and sourcing new leads, but at this stage, I am in the shop every day, making the products to sell, working on our social media/online and assisting customers. Being in the shop is so important, its our hub, and has landed us some exciting contracts already by just being here but I suppose at this stage, it’s a resource constraint that’s causing the most stress. Once I have someone else in the business full time, we can really level it up.


Q14 - What advice would you give to your 21-year-old self about your career journey?

Take a leap, you will always be caught!


Q15 - If you could give one piece of advice to a start-up entrepreneur, what would that be?

Its not easy, but if it was – everyone would be doing it. Persevere.

Its become my mantra, I say it regularly.


Q16 - What are your goals for the future? (Personal or professional)

My immediate goal is the e-commerce, getting the online presence and sales matching that of the shop in the first instance.


My future goals are to continue to grow the business, I'd like to see both Saint Monica and Eze - Stockbridge Perfumery expand into other retail outlets such as luxury department stores, salons/spas and to certainly concentrate the bespoke design element of the business.

 

Thank you Hannah, it has been great hearing from you, and your business. You've given a very candid response to your business goals, challenges and successes. We appreciate the nuggets of advice and wisdom you've shared, and our other business owners will enjoy these as well.


If you would like to see more about what Hannah and her business are doing, please head to their website - saintmonicaaromatherapy.co.uk, or you can follow their success on their social media channels - @saintmonicaaromatherapy and @eze.perfume.