We had the absolute pleasure of interviewing co-founder Sophie Pycroft about what it takes to build a cult brand. Spectrum Collections are the iconic go-to instagram brush, they are super gorgeous and Vegan to boot. This brand has a cult following and this year, when you thought they couldn't get any better, they announced their collab with Disney! We talk about the journey, tips and whats next for this incredible brand!
Q1. Did you always plan to set up in business together?
We always wanted to work together, but we didn’t imagine actually setting up and running business together, that happened more out of a lack of opportunity in South Wales, there wasn’t much else going on in terms of the beauty or fashion industry, and we really didn’t want to move to London to pursue a career. So instead we set up our own business.
Q2. Would you describe yourselves as entrepreneurs? What was it that drove you both to set up on your own and take such big risks?
I think we both have the entrepreneurial spirit, we believe that if you work hard enough you can succeed, and we both believe in our own skills, talents, and gut instinct, so really when you have those attributes those are the most necessary things to take the risk in starting your own business. Risks are essential in running any business, but when you really do believe in it, they don’t feel so much like big risks, just hurdles you have to jump over, or back away from, so we always tend to jump.
Q3. Your business has only been running for 4 years and has skyrocketed in that time, what would you say has been some of the main factors in its success?
We both think that Instagram has been a huge part of the business's success. With a marketing budget of £90 in our first year, we relied on free exposure from people sharing pictures online. Now we pride ourselves on amazing product, innovative designs and our collaborations with Paramount and Disney have really helped to propel the brand forward again. It’s much more difficult now to get exposure online unless you pay big money for it, thankfully we were there 4 years ago before all the algorithms and before influencers demanded such high fees. We’re happy to say we have lots of natural and organic support for the brand from our customers and influencers alike, everyone just loves their brushes.
Q4. Reading up on both yourself and your sister Hannah, you started the company from your garage working round the clock in your PJ’s, what key lessons did you learn in those early days?
We learned the business inside out, we know every aspect of what it means to keep the business running, and we also have a good idea of what our customers really want. We’ve done every job from pick and pack to customer service, social media, marketing, advertising, to import duties and VAT, so we really are masters of our business!
Q5. What has been the biggest mistake you have made and what have you learnt from it?
Hard to say really, we tend to not think of many things as mistakes. We try and be very open and honest, and we think that this is something we’ve learned from working with lots of suppliers, buyers, and customers, as long as communication is clear and everyone is aware of what’s happening, you can usually work through whatever arises. For instance, when our warehouse burnt down and orders weren’t going to be fulfilled, we just told everyone and worked through it.
Q6. We love a success story in the media, but they are never really reality! Behind the scenes so much more hard work and graft goes on!!! what have been the biggest obstacles you’ve had to overcome and how did you do it?
The biggest thing is really coming from backgrounds in photography and videography and building a brand that is as big as Spectrum is now. The hardest thing is maintaining control over how rapid the growth is, so we don’t run out of cash flow! We’d love to expand more rapidly, but that would take investment, and we’re not ready to give up any control over the business.
Q7. How do you stay motivated? Do you set goals? If so, what are your current goals? Personal / Professional?
We really don’t even have time to set personal or business goals at the moment, we genuinely go with the flow and sometimes should stop to celebrate the good things when they do happen! When we travel and we’re on a plane or somewhere with no signal is about the only time we actually stop and say ‘today was great, we’re smashing it’ but that doesn’t happen often.
Q8. What is your daily routine? Do you have something that you make sure you do every day or even week?
Ours is probably the opposite of what you’d read in the press about successful businesswomen. We’re not particularly early risers, no yoga and kale smoothies at 6 am, we just get up around 7:30, exercise if we have time, so get to the gym for around 08:15 maybe once or twice a week, grab a coffee, head to the office and get our head down for e-mails until we take the dogs for a walk and maybe grab some lunch. Otherwise, we’ll eat at our desk, more e-mails, and probably a catch up with the team. Then when we get home its another dog walk, followed by a quick tea and some trash TV, while answering social media queries and replying to comments in the ad breaks. Not all that inspiring but that is real life.
Q9. I think you are both a huge inspiration to women out there, but who inspires you?
We’re always inspired by our family, they’re all really hard working, loyal, loving, and kind. We try to be all of those things.
Q10. What would be the best piece of advice you would give to someone thinking about starting a business?
How much do you really want it? Is it for passion or for money? If it’s only for money don’t bother because the struggle to get there will likely mean you won’t. Only start if you don’t even care about taking a wage for a couple of years, but you think the end goal of having your own business will be worth it. Also, we wouldn't recommend doing it alone, you really need a trusted business partner, friend, or family member to take it on with you.
Q11. What has been a real ‘pinch me’ moment in your journey so far?
Definitely when we got to announce our collaboration with Disney!
Q12. You have already achieved so much including the huge collab you have done with Disney this year! What's next??
We’re working on cosmetics at the moment, and hoping to launch our first range in February next year, but we’re working really hard to make the formulas as amazing as they can be, we don’t like to do anything by halves!