Beauty & Gennese

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In the beauty industry it’s hard to stand out from the crowd – but Gennese Williams who founded MGW London in 2010 – did just that….

Earlier this year, the Press Association reported that research carried out by Cosmetic Executive Women UK placed the value of the UK’s beauty industry at over £15 billion. In addition to that, the billion-pound business also provides employment for almost a million workers in the UK. Inevitably, as with any industry that’s proven itself to be extremely lucrative, it runs a risk of oversaturation. The same survey reported that one in six beauty businesses in the UK are nail salons – even the facial skincare market is expected to reach £1 billion by the end of 2012. That evidence, teamed with the fact that many have adopted a ‘have-a-go’ attitude to the beauty business, has made it difficult for many up-and-coming beauty brands to make an impact. So fickle is the nature of the beauty beast that building up a loyal customer base and a unique brand is a challenge only a few rise to meet. Enter Gennese Williams, founder and creative force behind MGW London – a multi-faceted company whose services include make-up artistry and beauty event teams.

Initially set on entering the world of performing arts, Gennese has her parents to thank, albeit indirectly, for her start in the beauty industry. “I studied performing arts at college and I actually fell into beauty, because my parents told me that I needed to have a skill. Because of that, I studied to be a beauty therapist when I was 16.” Following that, Gennese worked on building her reputation, notching up experience in both the beauty and music management fields until her plans were unexpectedly halted in 2005, when she was diagnosed with Keratoconus, a degenerative eye disorder that partially robbed her of the sight in her right eye. Remarkably, it was this setback that gave her the impetus to start her own business. “When I was blind, one of my first thoughts was that there was no way I could carry on doing what I was doing. Having to attend numerous hospital appointments made it really difficult to work for an employer. As soon as I underwent successful surgery on my right eye, I made the decision to work for myself.”

Gennese’s transition from employee to business owner wasn’t without its challenges. “Initially, when you are entering the beauty industry it’s hard because no one wants to give you a chance. You really have to prove yourself. You have to pay your dues before you can get anywhere. Because I was already established in the industry, that made it easier. When I first discussed my plans with family they told me it wouldn’t work. For some reason, deep down I knew it would. In the beginning, a lot of my clients wanted their beauty treatments done at home; I was a one-woman team. That’s when I realised I needed a little army. Now, we’re based in Notting Hill and I’ve got a team of 30. We do make up for film and video shoots – I’ve worked with Universal doing photographic make up. I have ten make up artists who between them have worked on Vogue and for Dolce and Gabbana. Some of MGW’s clients include Living TV, Nails Inc and Elizabeth Arden.”

I wonder what Gennese makes of her success and the fact she has a loyal customer base, despite the industry’s fickle nature? “Your best asset is your client. When I started, the majority of my clients were through word of mouth. When people recommend you to others that’s your foundation. I believe in quality over quantity and the personal touch – be on time, remember birthdays – it’s not just about what you do, it’s about understanding what your clients need.” Sounds like a winning formula. So what’s next on the horizon for MGW London? “My focus is on the international market now. We’re quite well known in London so I feel like it’s time to branch out into other countries. I want MGW London to be the first port of call for any beauty related need. Whether that’s facials, make up, nails – anything. I truly believe my team can and will achieve.”

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