Welcome to the next instalment of the #beautyinsider Q&As, where you can read first-hand about how beauty experts got into their field of work, what they are working on and how they got there. This month’s guest is Rebecca Saunders, Founder of beauty and wellbeing destination Seekology. Stocking over 70 brands online, from stationery to home fragrance, yoga mats and of course skincare and makeup, Seekology offers a treasure trove of indie brands that make great gifts – or that will no doubt happily find a place in our own home or bathroom cabinet. Here Rebecca shares her varied career path before taking the plunge to launch her own business, as well as her favourite products stocked at Seekology.
1. Hi Rebecca, thank you for being my Insider Q&A guest this month. Let’s get started with your career path: what’s been your journey?
My career path has been more of a wiggle, and I’m a great believer in the Steve Jobs theory that you can only “join the dots backwards”. My first ever job was at House of Fraser on the shop floor and whilst I became an investment banker after graduating, I soon realised my real love was retail. After an MBA in New York, where I worked at J.Crew and Tiffany, I worked for Argos and then John Lewis, where I became the beauty buyer. Following my passion to work with smaller brands I spent a couple of years at notonthehighstreet but I really missed the human connection of physical retail, and so the idea for Seekology was born: a destination to help customers discover new beauty + wellbeing brands in an inspirational store.
2. There are so many incredible independent beauty and wellbeing brands out there – how do you choose which brands to feature on Seekology?
I’m very lucky in that I get approached by fantastic brands all the time. It’s great to see the level of innovation in beauty + wellbeing which means I can pick and choose the brands and products that are going to be right for our discerning customers. Many of our brands come via referral from our existing brands, and some – like Heka Aromatherapy – have joined us after the founder walked into the store. I’m looking for brands that are unique and have a great backstory.
Having been a retail buyer for many years, sometimes new brands come to us needing some guidance about their own strategy, whether on pricing, product development, marketing or how to approach retailers. I see Seekology becoming a really important part of this ecosystem – a place for customers to discover new brands and a place for brands to join a community where both I and others can help them grow.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
As an entrepreneur, there’s rarely a typical day – that’s what makes it fun! I do start the day getting my children ready, using some luxurious Seekology products in the shower like the Pure Delight Hand & Body Scrub by Elan Skincare, which smells like a chocolate orange, and the sustainable solid shampoo bar by Kind2. After that I check any emails or customer queries that have come in overnight. My mornings are usually spent working with brands – we now feature over 80 – and I love helping them grow their businesses and reach new customers. In the afternoon I might pop into the shop to fulfil Click & Collect orders (or once it’s open, to meet customers) or meet potential partners for new store opportunities. I try to put the laptop away by 6pm so I can read some bedtime stories to my children and then relax a bit in the evenings, winding down with aromatherapy products like this Breathe Balm or the Serenity Rollerball.
4. What are your current favourite products featured on Seekology?
There are so many amazing products, it’s really hard to choose! I have really dry skin at the moment, so I love using XO Balm overnight for a really intensive moisture hit. I’m also conscious about what I use on my face; during the day I use Enhance & Protect by CJ Skinhealth, which includes SPF30 for everyday use and before going at night I love to use a mask such as Calm & Soothe by Meadow Botanical, which is handmade in small batches using natural ingredients.
From a wellbeing perspective, I recently bought the bright blue yoga mat from Fable Yoga which helps me stay motivated for both yoga at HIIT classes which I do via zoom at the moment. And of course, we’re all still using hand sanitiser all the time – I cannot bear most of them but I just love Saltee Hands which smells of neroli and leaves my hands feeling super soft. I promise once you try it you won’t be able to use anything else!
5. What exciting projects are you working on right now?
As well as reopening our store in Richmond, I’m in the early stages of planning some other pop ups and events during the year. It’s never been more important to shop small and our mission at Seekology is to bring independent brands to as wide an audience as possible. Stay tuned by following us on Instagram or signing up to our emails to be the first to know about our other locations.
6. What so far has been your proudest career moment?
Definitely opening the first Seekology store! It was the culmination of a dream I’d had for so long, and on the day we opened I popped out to buy some coffees for the team. When I saw someone that I didn’t know walking down the street carrying a Seekology paper bag, I was so proud that I’d created something that customers really wanted.
7. And finally – what do you get up to in your spare time?
Aside from playing duplo with my children, my passion is music and I’ve played the violin since I was four years old. I am the leader of Orchestra of the City and I can’t wait to get back to playing again later this year – there really is nothing like the power of seeing and hearing lots of musicians working together to create a live performance. I also believe everyone should have the chance to experience this first-hand and I’m a trustee of Orchestras Live, which aims to bring orchestral music to everyone.
If you have any burning questions you’d like to ask Rebecca why not leave a comment below? Or you can get in touch with Seekology directly on Instagram.