Interviews

Trinny Woodall, Founder, Trinny London

"For us our biggest message was, and this was the hardest thing to convince investors of; we’re not appealing to an age group, we’re appealing to an attitude and a state of mind."

Izzy Ashton

Assistant Editor, BITE

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When you organise an interview with Trinny Woodall, you know your first words matter. As it happens, Woodall’s first words to us see her reveal that she almost always takes her phone interviews either on the loo or while she’s having a cigarette. Thankfully she chose the latter for our conversation that whirled through her impressive career, taking in the 15 years she spent on our TV screens as one half of the infamous Trinny and Susannah in What Not to Wear, as well as the 11 books she’s penned and naturally onto to her newest baby, Trinny London.

Woodall speaks reflectively about the cyclical nature of her life, how she’s moved from burnt out twenty-something to writing bestselling books in her thirties, hosting over 120 TV shows in her forties and now finds herself a brand founder in her fifties.

For us our biggest message was, and this was the hardest thing to convince investors of; we’re not appealing to an age group, we’re appealing to an attitude and a state of mind.

Trinny Woodall

Woodall talks of how she found it a difficult transition from partnership to individual: “I had to find the whole of me because I was used to only putting out the half of me.” And find her whole she has with Trinny London, a beauty brand “changing the face of makeup” as the brand’s website states. As she said, her greatest desire for her brand, and its USP, was that “we’re not appealing to an age group, we’re appealing to an attitude and a state of mind”.

This state of mind is emulated by Woodall across the brand’s social media channels as she regularly invites her audience to participate in Live sessions and Instagram videos. Her Trinny Tribe, as her loyalist fan base is so named, are the women who feature on the website. They are the faces modelling the products, faces aged from 16 to 83 that look like the women we know and love.

A lot of starting your own business is quite a solitary experience. But you never know what’s behind a closed door.

Trinny Woodall

The idea for the brand emerged from Woodall’s observations of the women she’d worked with over the years. She said, “What it really taught me is every woman, irrelevant of her race, ethnicity or country she lives in has very similar issues. I was always mesmerised by how whenever I did a makeover, the first thing a woman would see is her makeup and then she’d see her body shape and hair.” Woodall wanted to create a set of products that are all personalised, of prime quality and are portable.

The hardest part of running her business? The accelerated growth the brand is experiencing. But Woodall adds sagely, her advice to young entrepreneurs would be, keep your eyes open because “you never know what’s behind a closed door.”

Trinny Tribe headshots.png
Creativebrief: What is the role that marketing played when you were starting up, specifically social media?
Trinny Woodall: It was the biggest role. In a way I was rebuilding the Trinny brand without Susannah. When you’re in a partnership a long time, there’s a yin and a yang. You’re edited in a certain way. I had to find the whole of me because I was used to only putting out the half of me. So, that bought in a new audience as well. I was talking a lot about makeup, skincare and clothing and doing Facebook and Instagram equally. I started doing Lives [on Facebook] and suddenly saw I was getting 2/3,000 people and I thought there is this audience [who are] interested to find out more. Then about six months before we launched, I got funded. But I must’ve seen 25 VCs. When you’re selling something that’s predominantly for women to a predominantly male audience, it’s very hard for them to get the emotive side of what that product can bring into a woman’s life.
Creativebrief: Social media has really changed the landscape for new brands. Do you think that specifically applies within beauty?
Trinny Woodall: I feel slightly that I know what women don’t realise they need yet. But I also want to hear what women really want. For us our biggest message was, and this was the hardest thing to convince investors of; we’re not appealing to an age group, we’re appealing to an attitude and a state of mind. That’s a much harder thing to quantify when you’re marketing because the traditional mechanics of how you market to somebody are very age driven. But [Trinny London] is about energy and reinventing. We had two things that I think are our strongest marketing executions. One is we decided to have no models on the site. We built up the Trinny Tribe which came originally from our Facebook followers. Now on the site, there’s 83 women [aged] from 16 to 83, all in different makeup looks. On our social media, every day I want to see a different age group, more video. I want to see that our Stories, our Instagram, our Lives bring in the whole office, all these people that now [our audience] begin to recognise. Then whenever [customers] come into contact with the brand, they feel they know the brand already. The other more interesting one is in a very organic stage. It’s becoming more and more expensive to advertise on Facebook. So, we made a decision three weeks ago to turn it all off. Peer to peer is still the greatest way we make a decision to buy. We looked at increasing our peer to peer through our Trinny Tribes. It’s still in a very embryonic stage but we have about 7,000 members of which 4,500 are active daily on the feed. They post about 60 bits of content [a day] which they all comment on. It’s more than UGC because it’s UGC with a focused purpose. We’re growing a movement as well as a range and it’s how those develop in harmony.

We’re growing a movement as well as a range and it’s how those develop in harmony.

Trinny Woodall
Creativebrief: What’s been the most challenging part of firstly starting and then running your own business?
Trinny Woodall: That I want everything yesterday. We’re growing very fast and we don’t quite have enough people for that growth. So, that’s probably the hardest thing is having enough people in the business to do all the things we want to do.
Creativebrief: What are your ambitions over the next couple of years?
Trinny Woodall: To be a 360 for women. Our first vertical is make-up. We’ve got quite a few verticals that are coming out and they all will have the three core parts of our brand. They’ll all be personalised to you, they’ll all be prime product and they’ll all be portable. Within two years we’ll be in the skincare category and then after that, we’ll see which one comes next.
Creativebrief: What would your one line of advice be to someone who has an idea for their own business and really wants to start it up?
Trinny Woodall: I’ll give them two. A lot of starting your own business is quite a solitary experience. But you never know what’s behind a closed door. Because I’ve had so many times in my life where I thought I’m at the end of the road in my career and then I get a phone call. You just don’t know. And also, never, ever, ever don’t reach out. Some people out of British politeness will think can I send them an email; can I ask for their help? The least that will happen is that somebody won’t get back to you. It’s just persevering. You’ve got nothing to lose.

I feel slightly that I know what women don’t realise they need yet. But I also want to hear what women really want.

Trinny Woodall
Creativebrief: Where do you draw your inspiration from outside of work?
Trinny Woodall: It’s an interesting one because my head is so furrowed in my work that at the moment, the thing I’m finding hardest to do is to take time off and have a day to be creative so if I’m on holiday for a few days or having an away day with my team. It is just getting the shit out of your day, things that otherwise stress you so much that you can’t then take your steps back. I started doing a bit of meditation. In fact, I do a meditation Live on a Sunday morning for my Trinny Tribe. We have 5,000 of us meditating together on Facebook. I listen to [the meditations] sometimes even in the car just to empty my head and stay a little bit in the moment, not running ahead.
Creativebrief: Are there any brands, businesses or business leaders that you really look up to?
Trinny Woodall: Chrissie [Rucker] who has the White Company is amazing because she built a business up that she still owns 100% with her husband. Turns over probably 200 million a year and works very hard, has many children and is an incredibly warm, wonderful woman. I came across her because I won a NatWest award and one of the prizes is a year of being able to get consultancy from the White Company. I find her very inspiring. Then I find Anya Hindmarch very inspiring because she too is a woman who has started this business, has evolved it from predominantly retail led to doing more online, always at the forefront of creative thinking, always doing fun things at fashion week, always thinking out of the box. And is delightful, has an amazing husband and five glorious children of which three of them she inherited. And I kind of think that’s great.

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