Written by Livvi Alderson-Tuck
We’ve all been there; trying to force one more product into our clear plastic bag, usually with airport security glaring us down, just so we can keep our skin happy and healthy regardless of our location. Far too many times have we had to leave our favourite and most effective skincare products behind when we travel, whether that’s attending a family wedding or adventuring around the globe, and it’s frustrating.
Lisa Sexton felt this frustration too but decided to do something about it. Enter Bolt Beauty, a skincare brand where premium formulas are encased within drops made from a biodegradable seaweed called carrageenan, allowing you to have all the skincare you require for a weekend away, all within a stackable container the size of your mobile phone.
Lisa took time out of her busy schedule (she also happens to be planning her wedding alongside running a new business) to share with us where the idea of Bolt Beauty struck, the struggles of launching a business during a pandemic, and her future hopes for the brand...
At what point did you decide you were going to start your own business?
I had a revelation in South East Asia while on a trip organised by my boyfriend for my 30th. Before we left, I packed up all the skincare I wanted to take with me and was appalled when my boyfriend told me we only had carry-on luggage. I genuinely thought, ‘oh my god, how am I going to cope’. Not only would I be restricted by space but also by the 100ml rule! It frustrated me that we always have to make this compromise when skincare routines are really important to women. I was taking cod liver oil capsules at the time (great for hair!) and thought, why can’t this portability and convenience be applied to skincare. Thus the idea for Bolt Beauty was born!
What were the first steps you took to transform the idea into the business we know today?
I was working in the City as a lawyer when I returned from my trip; I had been for ten years. I contacted a number of manufacturers and took annual leave to go and visit the promising ones, which felt a little naughty! But once I saw that my idea could work, I negotiated my leave and went full time with Bolt Beauty in August 2019. We worked really hard to get everything ready for our launch in March 2020. Little did we know the world had slightly other plans!
The global pandemic. You launched Bolt Beauty a matter of days before the country went into lockdown; what has it been like starting a business during such an ‘unprecedented’ time?
As a lawyer, I am always thinking about risk, so before I started Bolt Beauty, I wrote down a long list of all the possible things that could go wrong. The list was extensive, let me tell you, but global pandemic was not on it! It’s been a real challenge. Going ahead with our launch as scheduled was a considered and deliberate decision, but one of Bolt’s key USPs is its portability. Launching a business within the pandemic is hard enough, but with people not being able to travel, we’ve had to re-position our offering.
There have been some positives- I don’t think TikTok would have blown up the way it has if it weren’t for Covid, especially within our target demographic, so we’ve been able to join the community there in a way which we might not have been able to without the pandemic.
What do you envision life will look like for Bolt post lockdown?
We have learnt so much this year, it really allowed us the time to get to know and connect with our audience, so I think we are in a much better position when everything reopens. I’m looking forward to seeing Bolt in a world where people can really take advantage of how travel friendly our products are. I also hope that business in general will be more accepting of flexible working after this past year, whether that’s from home or working different hours. I think that would be a real leveler for women in business, which would be amazing to see.
Bolt drops are completely biodegradable which means that using your skincare is a zero waste process. How important is sustainability within the beauty industry at the moment?
There has definitely been a shift in people wanting more environment friendly options when it comes to beauty, which is brilliant. But it’s important for consumers to know that there isn’t a one size fits all solution to be more sustainable. What works for some brands doesn’t work for others and sometimes we have to prioritise different aspects of sustainability. For instance, glass is often deemed as “better” than plastic when it comes to packaging, but glass has a much higher carbon footprint, which means that it is often worse from a carbon impact assessment: it’s about working out what works for that brand or product based on their priorities and sustainable commitments. It’s great to see consumers becoming more aware, but I think we need to all have a responsibility to ask for more information from brands on “sustainable claims” so we can better understand what they are really doing for the environment.
Hibana is all about inspiration- where do you find inspiration?
I love to read. I’m currently reading Blink by Malcom Gladwell which is about just how quickly people form perceptions, literally within a matter of seconds. It definitely has inspired me to look at our digital ads in a new way.
What is your goal for Bolt Beauty?
I want Bolt Beauty to be the skincare brand for the modern woman. It’s a female-led skincare company rooted in the belief that women need products that can keep up with them. The kind that you can take with you as you bolt out the door, wherever that may be. Every element of Bolt is built to support an active lifestyle. From our simple (but very effective!) skincare routine to our easy to decant biodegradable drops - we’ve made zero-waste skincare fit for the gym, the office and even your tiniest micro bag. Beautiful skin should never be an obstacle to ambition and it should be accessible to everyone. That’s why we’re here to create honest, effective skincare in an easy to use format that works for every eventuality - empowering people everywhere to start travelling light.