jQuery and its goodies

An interview with beauty maven Kate Shapland

Monday, 3 March 2014

With a career simultaneously combining the roles of beauty columnist, brand distributor/retailer and brand owner, there isn’t much that Kate Shapland doesn’t know about beauty. We speak to Kate Shapland about championing independent beauty brands, developing the leg care sector and her real-life The Devil Wears Prada moment.
To introduce yourself to our readers, how would you sum yourself up? 
Independent, maverick, lucky enough to find my metier.

You have 3 very important work hats: beauty columnist for Telegraph Magazine, founder of Legology and co-founder of MyShowcase. Do the three feed each other and if so, how? 
There is complete synergy between all three. Both MyShowcase and Legology were inspired by my work. Legology evolved from a deep interest in leg care, starting ostensibly with a fixation for cellulite then progressing to leg wellbeing generally.

MyShowcase was borne out of my passion for brands. I’ve been lucky enough to be able to champion small independent brands alongside the bigger commercial ones on my page in the Telegraph; this naturally led to the MyShowcase concept of providing a platform for smaller brands in a way that gave them great distribution through our network of stylists, with support and freedom that they might not otherwise get. 

With my column, it’s the best beauty writing job I’ve ever had: my editor Michele Lavery has allowed me a voice and freedom in what I cover, so I’ve been able to write about products on their merit and develop a
credible rapport with readers.

You’ve practically created a new beauty sector with your brand Legology, which specifically targets the welfare and beauty of legs. How did this come about and what are the challenges? 
The concept came about through my complete passion for leg care. It’s not a cliché to say that without the passion you simply would not bring a product to market, because the hoops you need to jump through and the momentum you need to maintain (especially while earning a living doing your day job) are onerous. The main challenges I face are those that all start-up brands face: a requirement for huge minimum orders for ingredients and componentry, cash flow, forecasting supply and getting trademarks sorted.

My feeling is that leg care has been hijacked by anti-cellulite products in the same way that skin care has been hijacked by anti-ageing products. I understand that there is a demand for products that can treat cellulite – clearly there is, but it’s not the only issue that women have with their legs. For one, fluid retention can be a real problem for women and a sluggish lymph can be a major contributor to cellulite. I felt that no one had really taken ownership of leg care in a thorough way. Basically I created the leg cream I’ve been looking for my entire career and never found.

You (refreshingly) champion niche beauty brands – tell me more about that.
 I’m just a brand junkie.  I’m completely fascinated by brands – not just beauty brands. I never stop analysing brands and one of my favourite nerdy things is doing this in foreign chemists and supermarkets. Beauty is obviously my world though, and there is a lot there to feed my fascination. 

Early on I made a point of trying to understand how people got a beauty brand to market. Being in a position to review brands once the founder has gone through all the angst is a very fortunate one. But for the founder, it’s invariably been such a big journey, so when the time comes to release the product it’s a very emotional experience.

Your experience on your first job at Harpers and Queen is hilarious - please enlighten our readers with your wonderful tale! And on a positive note, what life learnings did you take from the experience?
 In a nutshell my first job was as a secretary (read: insect) to the fashion editors.  This was a The Devil Wears Prada experience with knobs on. Not only was I made to wear clothes from the fashion cupboard (and it was the 1980’s so we’re talking Katharine Hamnett t-shirt, leggings and little hats with net) but I was also re-named Chloe and asked to tell my family and friends to stop asking for Kate when they rang up.

I was so frightened of one of the fashion editors that I got EVERYTHING wrong, felt sick every morning before I got to work and barely spoke for a year. I learned to work hard and be kind to people. That gets you everywhere you need to go.

What’s been the highlight of your career to date? 

There are two: being asked to write a beauty column for the Telegraph and seeing my first cellophane-wrapped Legology Air-Lite. Tears were shed on both occasions.

You’ve truly earned your stripes as a beauty expert – what are your top tips for natural beauty?

I’m a firm believer in holistic beauty - the way you feel is absolutely integral to the way you look. Happiness is very attractive. Having said that, I also recognise the positive power of a great haircut and the perfect lipstick.

I hear you’re a fan of Udo’s Choice Ultimate Oil – what’s your experience with it? 

Udo’s Choice was recommended to me by a nutritionist some years ago and I’ve been taking the Oil Blend since then. I eat oat bran every morning without fail and I add a drop to that. Liz Earle once told me that she thought omegas were magic bullets for your skin and it’s one of the best beauty nuggets I’ve ever been given – she is absolutely right. 

I’ve also taken Udo’s Choice probiotics from time to time in my life because I’m a firm believer in having balanced acid/alkaline levels. Candida is an issue for me – I think it’s triggered by stress, and probiotics help to restore my acid/alkaline levels and reduce candida.

Is health and wellness important to you? 

Yes. But I don’t believe it’s possible to have a work/life balance. If you have that, life is not an adventure because there are no extreme chapters. For me life is not based on yoga every Monday, husband date night every Tuesday, work dinner every Thursday. Life is more random than that. And when you experience extremes – like massive work stress or personal loss – which are inevitable and out of your control, you can’t help but feel stressed, depressed, anxious, knackered: that’s life!

How do you switch off and relax? 
My husband regularly hides my laptop. I read a great deal. I knit, quilt and walk my Scotties.

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