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Interview: Jenni Retourné, Founder of Willowberry

PUBLISHED: 15:17 23 July 2019 | UPDATED: 16:07 23 July 2019

Jenni Retourné, Founder of Willowberry

Jenni Retourné, Founder of Willowberry


When it comes to the business of beauty, the success of the Willowberry brand is far more than skin deep

In just under two years, Jenni Retourné, Founder of Willowberry, has taken her skincare range from launch to an award-winning, industry-endorsed brand with an ever-increasing loyal fan base. Here Jenni shares some of her insights and learnings and tells of how the Growth Hub team helped her along the way.

Where did the Willowberry story begin?

I've worked in the beauty industry for 15 years; as Editor of a trade beauty magazine and then owner of a beauty marketing company, so I was fully immersed in the business side as well as the creative side of the industry. In July 2017 I launched Willowberry with a vision to grow a skincare brand that could demonstrate heart, integrity and total transparency, with high-performance natural skincare products that help your skin look its natural best.

What makes your range stand out in such a crowded marketplace?

It may sound counter intuitive but I don't look at market trends or fashionable ingredients when I work with my cosmetic chemist on product formulation. Instead, I start by working out the desired results that each product needs to deliver to the skin, then select the highest-quality, nutritionally-rich natural ingredients that will deliver this, to create products that really work. Because if a product doesn't make a real difference to someone's skin, then quite simply, they won't repurchase.

The values of the Willowberry brand play a strong role in our stand-out, as we work with heart and transparency, offering complete clarity of all ingredients, not just the most marketable ones, plus we actively support women's self-esteem.

Our success is also driven significantly by the very positive response that we have received from the industry, from key names and influencers, celebrity make-up artists, facialists and major media such as the Good Housekeeping Institute, Cosmopolitan and Stylist magazine. Willowberry has had good traction within a hugely competitive market.

How have you achieved so much in such a short space of time?

The key has been to get my products into the hands of the right industry contacts and my background in the industry has certainly helped me with this - I feel like the past 15 years of demonstrating my integrity, passion and commitment to the industry has all led to this point! Building brand advocacy with industry experts has given credibility to the range - my strategy was to get my products into people's hands and let the products do the talking.

Where did The Growth Hub step in?

A friend recommended The Growth Hub just as I launched the business, so the timing could not have been more perfect. I started off on the Start and Grow course which taught me business fundamentals such as structure and financials, plus the importance of working 'on' my business as well as working 'in' it. Then the Growth Hub Business Guide team guided me to specialist support as and when I needed it; Andy Kime gave me a much deeper understanding of my business numbers and Angela Spenley helped me to bring structure to my marketing activities. In all, I have learnt to be proactive rather than reactive and ensure that I'm driving my business in the direction of my business goals, rather than let the business lead me down a wild path.

What can we expect to see next from the Willowberry brand?

I'm currently scaling up Willowberry in line with the growth of the business. I'm outsourcing production to a UK manufacturer, I have a beautiful re-brand launching later this year and I will be approaching potential retail partners to move into the wholesale space. I'm hiring a PR and I'm looking for logistics support for picking and packing. There will also be a number of new products introduced to the range over the next 12 months.

What excites you most about the future?

I'm really excited about where the business is heading. There is so much going on behind the scenes at the moment as I scale up the business and I can't wait to see this come to fruition as Willowberry moves to the next level. The brand has such a loyal customer base already and the rebrand will ensure that Willowberry really does hold its weight in a hugely competitive marketplace without losing any of the authenticity and warmth that our customers have come to expect.

What advice would you give to someone considering developing their business?

It's essential to have a laser focus on your time - value your time just as you would your money. It's far too easy to get distracted on activities and events that take up a lot of your time, but which don't clearly target a specific goal or business objective. Know your numbers - they determine whether your business succeeds or fails. Also, know when to ask for help. You cannot be an expert in everything. Getting the right people in at the right time, as I have done with The Growth Hub and other mentors and experts, will really help speed up your growth and ultimately the success that you will have.

And a final word from The Growth Hub?

Angela Spenley, Growth Hub Business Guide says "Jenni has been a pleasure to work with. We met weekly and used proven tools and techniques to work on business growth with a focus on marketing and sales. This helped Jenni gain clear and concise thinking and deliver immediate and long term results. Jenni is very dedicated with an arrow sharp can do attitude."

To find out more about Willowberry, its story and products visit willowberry.co.uk. And to see how The Growth Hub could help your business grow contact the team on 01242 715400 or visit thegrowthhub.biz.

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