Spotlight Series - PERLcosmetics
For our Spotlight Series this week, we spoke to Isobel Perl, founder of PERLcosmetics. Struggling to find her path in life, she realised that she wanted to get involved in the world of skincare. Read more about this fabulous businesswoman and her entrepreneurial endeavour:
Tell us about yourself!
I’m Isobel Perl, the founder of PERLcosmetics and Girls in Business UK. I graduated University
in 2017 with a first class honours degree in Biology. I decided to get a job to
save up money to go travelling and, on my return, planned to start a masters in Cancer Biology
at Imperial College London.
I lasted 3 weeks studying my masters before realising I didn’t want to be a scientist. I went back
to my old job and decided my new path in life would be to move to London and follow suit of my
In April 2019 I moved to London, and the year that unfolded was probably one of my most
unhappy years of my life. I hated my job and was struggling to find my path in life. I felt utterly
In May 2020, shortly after the pandemic took hold of the world, I lost my job. This ended up
being the biggest blessing in disguise as it gave me the push I needed to start my business
PERLcosmetics, and subsequently start the platform Girls in Business UK.
I pour my heart and soul into both businesses, whilst also managing them alongside a new full-
time job I started in September. It’s not easy, but it is so worth it, and I finally feel like I’ve found
my path in life!
How/Why did you come up with this endeavour? Was there a particular 'light bulb' moment?
The idea of starting PERLcosmetics came in November 2019 during a really difficult time in my life. As mentioned, I was really struggling with knowing where I wanted my life to go and lacked any sense of direction, drive or motivation.
I decided something needed to change and so started writing down a list of things I enjoyed and liked. Makeup and skincare were naturally at the top of that list. I thought perhaps I could find a job in that industry; however, my interest in starting my own skincare business was sparked after reading an article about a hugely successful skincare business in Australia started by two young e-commerce guys that initially sold only clay masks.
I thought about their UK competition, and off the top of my head couldn’t think of any direct competitors. Not only that, but if two young guys can do it, then why the hell could I not!
That was the lightbulb moment. I started researching, planning and getting my social media and website set up. Though, it was not the start I’d imagined for PERLcosmrtics as the idea was short lived. The reality of life came tumbling down and I simply didn’t have the time available to me to invest in bringing my idea to life. Hence why losing my job in May was the best thing that happened to me.
Around the same time as starting PERLcosmetics, I thought of starting the platform Girls in Business UK to support other women in business. What started as a platform to shamelessly self-promote my own business has turned into a community of 10K (and growing!) amazing, supportive women. I’m so proud of what it’s become and can’t wait to see where I can take it, eek!
Losing my job gave me the time and opportunity to invest all my effort into getting the business on its feet!
Was there one particular thing you did that you feel enabled the business to take off/gain traction?
One thing that is imperative in starting a business is building your brand reputation. I started my social media channels in May before I even had a product to show and when I launched I had just over 1,000 followers. One thing I wish I had done was get on TikTok sooner, I started using it 2 weeks ago and made over 45 sales, which is insane for my small business.
With Girls in Business UK, merely the idea of the page means there is a ripple effect. I post a woman’ story each day, she’ll (hopefully) re-share it and the page grows organically like that. I also try to be authentic, relatable and just me. Showing the realities of having a small business and connecting with other small businesses!
What has been the most challenging/rewarding part of running your business?
Having a full-time job whilst trying to run the businesses is really bloody tough. I simply do not have enough hours in the day. I work every weekend and continue working most days till 11pm. I have so many big plans, but can’t pull them off because I don’t have the time, but equally if I leave my job I then won’t have the money to pull off these plans. Such a catch-22 and it's not easy!
The most rewarding thing is bringing my ideas to life and actually shocking myself at pulling it off! I’m constantly amazed that little old me has managed to accomplish all this in under a year ha!
Where do you see your business going in the future?
Small-term goal for PERLcosmetics is it growing big enough to support me so I can quit my day job. Long-term goal would be to be stocked in Cult Beauty, in Space NK and other big retailers.
Short-term goal for Girls in Business UK would be to launch business tools, such as guides, planners etc. Long-term goal would be to provide events, meet ups, mentorship.
Dream big hey.
Is there a positive aspect that has come out of this pandemic for you/your business?
Simply starting the businesses was the biggest positive thing that has happened in my life for a long, long time!
How do you ensure you run your business with sustainable practice in mind?
Sustainability is at the heart of what I do at PERLcosmetics. I source as many supplies from the UK as I can. All our packaging is glass and so can be reused or up-cycled. I’m currently working on re-fill options too for both the powder and the oil, meaning the bottles don’t have to go to waste.
By being handmade, there are also no factory emissions produced and I use natural ingredients with no nasties, preservatives, harsh chemicals, artificial fragrance, palm oil or parabens.
I wanted to create a business that doesn’t add to the stigma of the beauty industry being notorious for waste, and as such try to keep all packaging to a minimum with everything either reusable or recyclable!
Interview conducted by: Samara Fruitman