Nancy Cruickshank, CEO of MyShowcase, and Kate Shapland, MyShowcase's brand and editorial director, were the latest guest speakers in the CEW(UK) Mentoring Series, hosted by Hearst Magazines. With vast business and beauty knowledge between them, Cruickshank and Shapland presented the idea behind MyShowcase and explained how their innovative approach to selling beauty products works for the industry.
In May 2012, Cruickshank and Shapland launched MyShowcase, a business working with beauty brands to take products straight to the customers’ homes, as well as offering an online platform to purchase. MyShowcase has "stylists" that run events with their customers to demonstrate the products and tell the brand’s story. Currently, they’re working with 22 brands, which offer over 500 products all together. Shapland's role sees her choose the brands that MyShowcase works with. The most important thing she looks for in a brand is "soul" and she wants to hear the story, the challenge and the successes. The MyShowcase edge is that it embraces smaller, more niche brands that aren’t so readily available. It’s a key feature of their strategy to utilize and recognize entrepreneurs and the talent in the industry that isn’t being tapped into.
Entrepreneurship is something that has always been important to Cruickshank and Shapland, and their ability to access this potential is not only demonstrated by the brands they work with but also by offering the stylists flexible work hours, which they can schedule around other commitments. For the stylists, MyShowcase is about offering a role that means they can operate their own business. For the customer, the stylist’s knowledge is trusted and accessible; they’re not consultants with sales targets. The events are organized for gatherings of friends, which makes the shopping experience fun, sociable and relaxed. It is this environment that MyShowcase finds helps to sell the products. Friends recommend products and shades and share their beauty tips. Through this, stylists often find that customers naturally sell to other customers.
MyShowcase also recognizes the changing customer and constantly innovates and develops to meet their demands. Cruickshank and Shapland noted the importance of embracing social media to develop and consolidate their business. This works in two ways—to give your brand a voice and identity, and to also make your business responsive to customers who want an instant response. MyShowcase embraces this through social media and e-commerce by offering an easy to use online platform and quickly despatching orders. Cruickshank and Shapland advised that businesses should treat their product as an ongoing project. They highlighted the importance of not being afraid to respond to customer feedback as a product is never completely finished.
Cruickshank and Shapland ended their inspirational talk by thanking CEW(UK) and its members. They also offered a final piece of advice: to be proud of your business and to share and talk about it to everyone you meet along the way.