Offer something people genuinely want, says Blow LTD Fast Beauty founder Fiona McIntosh
Offer something people genuinely want, says Blow LTD Fast Beauty founder Fiona McIntosh
A view from Fiona McIntosh

Don't throw the old out with the new, says beauty entrepreneur Fiona McIntosh

Fiona McIntosh, co-founder and creative director of Blow Ltd Fast Beauty, is a former editor-in-chief of Elle. She founded her beauty business in 2013 with chief executive Dharmash Mistry, a venture capitalist and former group managing director at EMAP, and believes that traditional media still has its place in her new start-up world.

Ideas are all around you.

I find inspiration in so many places, but my best barometer is the collection of interesting, funny, clever women around me. My friends, the women I work with, even my kids – what drives them, makes them crazy-mad, how they manage their workloads while dealing with 50m other things.

These insights helped inform our thinking behind Fast Beauty. None of us has any time. We lead ludicrously busy lives, yet the pressure to look Instagram-ready has never been greater. And it’s a universal, multi-generational issue. So what can we do to help?

You have to offer something that people genuinely want.

That sounds simple, but I think this can easily get lost. The heart of what we do is fast and fabulous beauty services. It’s about giving women a speedy shot of confidence.

When you see someone walk into one of our beauty bars, head bowed, apologising for the state of her hair, and then walk out 30 minutes later radiating confidence with a bouncy ‘do’, impeccable nails or fresh make-up, you know something’s worked.

Look beyond your market

It was on a trip to New York in 2013 that we stumbled on the answer. Manhattan was exploding with clever, fun, innovative food concepts. They were disrupting the food industry with high-quality product offered in a fun and accessible way, wrapped up in clever digital marketing. So we adapted the ideas from this new generation of fast food and came up with the concept of Fast Beauty.

It’s where we got the idea for the menu boards in our beauty bars. It’s like ordering a burger – "I’ll have a straight blow, with a side-order of smokey-eyed evening make-up and a fast mani." Food-delivery companies are also leading the way with digital innovation. It’s the era of the on-demand service, from food (Deliveroo) to dry-cleaning (ZipJet), cleaning (Housekeep) and, of course, car services like Uber.

Build on your strength

I came from a traditional background of print publishing. I suppose my core transferable skill was communication – creating engaging content through words and images and creating simple, direct messages: this is what we do and this is why you need us in your life.

Learn from your team

I don’t pretend for a moment to be an expert in digital marketing. I am very lucky to be working with a digital genius, my co-founder and chief executive, Dharmash Mistry. We have an amazing team of switched-on young managers. I am thrilled that print brands still pack a lot of clout – a review in Vogue, Grazia, Red or ELLE has proven to be worth its weight in gold. So don’t throw the old out with the new.

Make yourself marketable

If you have ambitions to become a leader in your field, gain a breadth of meaningful experience. What is your goal and what experience do you need to make yourself the hottest candidate? I am in awe of candidates who have worked on a clear career strategy. If they were light on digital experience, for example, they have got some, either as part of their existing role or a new job. Working with smart people is also fundamental. You can learn so much more, so much faster by being part of a team breaking new ground – learning as much through mistakes as successes. Being proactive and on top of changes in the market makes you hugely marketable.