“We were overjoyed to win this award – it means such a lot as we were up against some really tough competition. We’re only a small company but we’ve got really big plans and we love the fact that we’re running an international cosmetics company from Bowes! The Awards evening was great, really good fun and we met some lovely people. The Enterprise Agency has been incredibly supportive, especially Charlotte who has given us lots of good advice and contacts. The awards themselves are a great idea and seem to have captured the spirit of businesses in the region – we’re proud to be based in Teesdale!”
Since its establishment in October last year, astonmitchell.com, an online male make up company run from home, has been shortlisted for a prestigious award and is now looking to turn over nearly £200,000 within its first 18 months.
The first UK business of its type in a growing market, it has established a customer base internationally and is one of only a handful of outlets to stock products by Michelle Probst, the personal make-up artist to President Barack Obama with more ranges in the pipeline including the exclusive rights to a Canadian Skin Care range.
The business was established by Kate Jones and Claire Mitchell. Ms Jones, who has a six-year-old son, runs a chain of three nurseries in the North-East, and Ms Mitchell, mother of a 14-month-old daughter, has her own marketing consultancy.
The women decided they wanted to set up a venture together, and it was Ms Jones who came up with the idea of a men’s cosmetic business as it fitted all the criteria they wanted in a business. It needed to be web-based, fit around existing busy lives, and deal with small, low-cost high-value products in an emerging market which are easy to store and ship.
The venture became one of two finalists in the prestigious If We Can, You Can challenge, run by the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, which seeks to find the North-East business leaders of the future.
The pair have maximised their exposure with high profile initiatives including giving Radio 1 DJ Scott Mills a makeover live on air and their current YouTube campaign for the face of Astonmitchell.
Ms Mitchell said they are now looking to move into the bridegroom market.
“We have customers who buy very obvious make-up products such as eye liner, mascara and blusher, but we also have guys at the other end of the spectrum who want to use make-up to disguise under-eye circles, shiny skin or blemishes and who would hate anyone to realise they are wearing make-up,” she said.
“We have had customers from all over the world. We have repeat customers which is a lovely feeling. Our business is making a difference to people and we love it.
“Kate and I both run very successful businesses in our ‘day jobs’ but we wanted to have a business which would give us a real challenge involving something completely different to our usual work.”