The last word…kind of
I wrote this email to MIMI Skincare customers last week, and want to share this update with you here:
It’s been a while since I last wrote to you. Life has taken twists and turns and I want to update you on some huge (HUGE!) changes.
I’d love to be writing to tell you how successful MIMI has been and that it’s growing exponentially year on year. I’d love to be able to gloss over the bumps and pretend everything is shiny. But, as you know, I prefer to tell it how it is.
A few years ago I thought I had a great idea. Every one said they thought it was a great idea. Over the years I’ve thought up several creative ideas for products and services and I believed I finally had one that could work.
MIMI Natural Skincare in a Kit was born (called MIMI by complete accident since my partner emailed me the acronym Make It Make It Ltd in the subject line).
I set out a detailed plan to try to create some products: did a course, found a cosmetic chemist, sourced packaging and paid a branding agency to design the logo etc. I tested and re-tested the first products with very willing and wonderful volunteers in my community in Ealing (there was so much excitement about it, I was living on a high).
By that Christmas I was ready to test MIMI out in the real world (scary biscuits!) at the local Ealing Night Market and the popular Christmas Fair in Richmond. It was more fun than profit-making, but I used the opportunity to speak to potential customers, listen to their comments and answer questions. I did two other fairs shortly after, and while some people were in love with the concept, I knew it would not be a product for everyone.
It was very niche – not everyone cares that much about what they put on their skin, and even if they do, not everyone has the time to make the products at home. Also, the price had to reflect not just the quality of the ingredients, but also the love and attention that went into every single piece of folded tissue paper, and every hand-written note inside each kit. If you’ve ever opened a Kit yourself, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
A few months later I had a fab ecommerce store, followed by tons of amazing features and reviews. While part of me loved the PR in glossy magazines, and celebrity endorsement features, the other part of me hated the copy that was used to describe the promised result of using MIMI products – get glowing skin, pretty skin, perfect skin, fairy-tale skin etc. It’s only face mask – not a miracle-worker! Nothing can turn back time.
I have had rosacea all my life, and no one’s skin is ever perfect. Only digital manipulation can make an already-gorgeous model look flawless.
It wasn’t my intention to put even more pressure on women to look perfected, younger, and impossibly beautiful. I started MIMI because I wanted to provide a different skincare option, and because a lot of people enjoy making their own products.
As a psychologist I have only ever wanted to help people feel better about themselves. So I stopped the PR and explained to you and others that I was relying on word of mouth and social media to raise awareness of the products.
At the same time I was in conversation with the buyers at an international retailer and very excited about seeing MIMI in the shops. Fast forward 18 months and nothing had come of this. When I spoke with the founders of Bull Dog skincare, Choc Chick raw cacao, and Hello Fresh meal delivery, they told me it takes at least 7 years to build a successful brand.
This made me question my motive. While I’m fascinated with what we put on our skin, I’m actually much more interested in how we feel about our appearance.
Did I really want to commit several more years to growing MIMI? Would MIMI ever ‘take off’ and become mainstream? Almost in answer to this, an industry report landed in my inbox – it literally said “by 2025 we’ll all be making our own skincare products”. Another 8 years…really?!?!
I was already speaking and writing about our personal relationship with our body and our appearance. I had begun researching body image, self-esteem, and had spoken to some well established researchers in the field.
It was astonishing to find that nearly all of us would change one thing about our appearance. Most of us are forever chasing what I call the Beauty Illusion – our brain and our psyche fall for marketing hype and trap us into believing we are flawed.
I launched a free online coaching programme for women to trial my content and a structure that could help them to build a positive relationship with the way they look, and in turn boost their confidence. I also had an idea to write a book on the psychology of beauty and why our psyche naturally aspires to be better, as if an ‘ideal’’version of us exists out there somewhere.
I ran a survey with 400 women who told me they worry about wrinkles and ageing, hate their flabby stomachs and their thinning hair, but feel good when they get their nails done. They told me that they hate the pressure their daughter is under to look a certain way, and that they worry about their niece’s eating habits.
I’ve interviewed celebrities, TV personalities and Instagram stars who told me their confidential body image stories. I wrote 80,000 words but couldn’t frame that content into a coherent structure. It was as if there was something else I wanted to express that wasn’t quite being captured.
Moving slowly away from trying to sell skincare products I was getting back to my ‘zone of genius’ as a psychologist, helping women to feel better about themselves. All the while, I was learning to embrace who I am, where my passion lies, and refocusing on what I actually want to achieve in my life.
So, while I really love MIMI, I‘m letting her go. I no longer sell skincare products.
I have to make space in my life to focus on being in my ‘zone’. I’m running “Empower Yourself – even when you feel a bit pants” workshops in my community and with corporate clients, talking at events, and launching an online coaching programme (so that I can engage with more women, from all over the world, than I can just doing 1:1 sessions).
A humongous massive heart-felt thank you to those of you who supported MIMI and me over the years. Whether you’ve bought products, become fans, liked the Facebook posts, and RT the tweets, blogged about MIMI or posted your own Green Goddess selfies – I really do thank you all. You have kept me motivated for the past few years.
But it doesn’t have to be good-bye.
I’d love you to join me over at jessbaker.co.uk. (just sign up below).
I share my insights on how to feel more confident, provide you with practical techniques that help you to empower yourself, and blog on coaching themes designed to help you shift from feeling stuck, frustrated, or sick of procrastinating, to a place where you feel grounded, focused, and able to move forward with your next thing.
So, thank you once again for being part of this journey, I’ve enjoyed it, and have learned so much.