Welcome to the Emirates Woman weekly series ‘How I got my job as…’ where we speak to some incredible entrepreneurs and businesswomen both based in the UAE and globally to find out about their career paths that led them to where they are now; what their daily routines look like; the advice they’d give to those starting out; and the hurdles they’ve had to overcome.

This week we chat with Claire Miller, founder of The Skincare Edit – Arabia, a concept that only just launched in the region a few months ago. As an experienced advanced facialist, Miller was building effective skincare routines for her clients at her very own treatment table. Becoming hugely popular with her clients, the idea for her very own platform was born to provide a selection of handpicked, performance-tested skincare for customers here in the Middle East.

Emirates Woman sat down with Miller to discuss the platform and what’s in store for The Skincare Edit in the region.

What was your favourite subject at school?

I was quite the nerd. I enjoyed science, particularly biology and chemistry… I loved learning about the human body, cells, different compounds etc. Who didn’t love getting the bunsen burner out. Physics, however, I could never fathom.

What was your first job?

Clark’s shoe store! Situated on the main high street in my home city of Liverpool in the UK, Church street has many grade II listed buildings and spans the length of the city. I absolutely loved working there. Everything from interacting with people to seeing the architecture of the building in the store rooms below ground.

The first month I had the highest sales across the store and I told my manager I think they had made a mistake, I thought they were going to realise it wasn’t me so I didn’t dare spend the bonus. I later realised I was just enjoying the job and this had translated into sales.

What brought you to Dubai?

Thirteen years ago my husband at the time was head hunted to the Health Authority here. I was working on improving cancer care pathways in the National Health Service and whilst the work was super rewarding, I was supportive of the move having loved travelling and experiencing other parts of the world.

What inspired you into the beauty space?

In 1998 at the age of 17, I was incredibly lucky to land a job at Crystal Clear Skincare. They were one of the very early pioneers of Microdermabrasion and went on to become the global leader. I loved seeing client results, learning about skin, it was here where I learnt a lot at an early age and it really piqued my interest on the subject, working alongside cosmetic dermatologists and skincare experts. I always wanted to know more, asking how and why probably to the frustration of my colleagues.

As a teenager feeling the effects of acne, this is where my own research started, for nothing more than to help myself. Back then there wasn’t the information available that you see today and the GP prescribed one cream only that dried and compromised my skin barrier when I used it as directed by itself. My research and interest have never really stopped from here on.

Today, having furthered my education and qualifications in skin and skin health, my passion and drive is simple; to help more people achieve the skin they love through better products and knowledge, the same way in which I’ve helped myself and many clients over the years.

Talk us through the concept of The Skincare Edit – Arabia?

The Skincare Edit was created on the treatment table in my job as an Advanced Facialist and Skincare Consultant. A large part of my job for clients is designing targeted skincare routines and building routines using selective high performance, result-driven products. This was a game-changer for my facial clients and thrilled by the transformational results and demand of clients The Skincare Edit was created, all organically from here.

Launched just a few months ago the platform, in a nutshell, is a handpicked curation of incredible, multi-award-winning and performance-tested skincare, wellness and beauty brands from around the world. We don’t follow trends, only science-backed, tried and tested results. Brands we exclusively brought to the region for the first time, were much-loved brands across the skincare and wellness industry and include JSHEALTH Vitamins, Zelens, Votary, Alpha H, Collagen Pantry, Eye of Horus, Olive and Olive Baby Skincare. All at comparable prices to their home markets, we didn’t want to inflate costs to the regional market.

We have effective solutions for every skincare concern from blemish-prone, rosacea to fighting the signs of ageing. I am incredibly fortunate to be able to see first-hand, have the insights and learn from my clients’ experiences. This is all funnelled onto the platform in the advice and products we offer. We also have a very strong sustainability ethos, everything from the brand credentials to how we source, package and delivery is considered.

What are the key elements of your role?

From facialist to CEO it’s been a learning curve! As with most new small businesses I’ve needed to learn quickly in most areas of business.

The fundamentals of the role I hope will never change and this is to always be learning, trialling and testing products so we are bringing the very latest and best in skincare, wellness and beauty to customers. This can be fun but also takes up a lot of time as you want to do all brands and products justice, but we also reject a lot.

In addition to the website, we are a distributor across the GCC for many of the brands you see on The Skincare Edit. My overall mission and aim is to improve access and education to transformational skincare. The last month I have spent a lot of time training and educating new, therapists, spas and clinics who are launching some of the brands on the platform in their space. Some of the brands have professional treatments which are incredible.

Supporting other businesses and hearing the feedback on the quality of the training as a distributor has been amazing and they are excited to share it with their customers. That’s what it’s all about.

Talk us through your daily routine.

I have really been trying to prioritise sleep lately. I always say your skin is only ever as good as your last night’s sleep so I’m trying to live by my own rules a little after prioritising work a lot this year. Getting the balance right in the first years of business is a task in itself. I try to get a head start on my day by waking early around 6am and have some me time, planning my day before my two little boys wake.

Our brands span Australia to Europe so time zones are always a consideration and quite often my working day does not finish until 8 or 9pm.

Days can involve meetings with brands, potential new partners for retail, spa or clinic, website development meetings, social media, logistics to import functions. I also love the pure basics of what we do such as packing orders, which I still get involved in sometimes. It’s the small details that count for me and I like to make sure our customers are getting their orders just as I would like. I take time to also reply to customer enquiries on skin, and whilst we offer a full consultation service it’s important we help and support customers at any time to find the right products for them.

I like to end my day with a bath, epsom salts and my skincare routine of course for which I always carve out 3 minutes to cleanse – breathe – and take stock of the day. I also take this time to go through a little mental gratitude list which I find helps me a lot even during the most challenging of days.

Before bed, I take my JSHEALTH magnesium which I find really supports my sleep, and spray a little Votary lavender pillow mist to help calm and relax my mind.

What advice do you have for anyone looking to follow in the same footsteps?

Be passionate about what you are trying to achieve and don’t waiver from that. Stay focused on your long-term vision and your day-to-day struggles won’t feel as big. I would encourage a huge amount of resilience, setbacks can be heartbreaking when you care about what you are doing. It can also be incredibly lonely starting a new business, everyone looks to you for answers and you’re still learning, making mistakes but coming out stronger. A support network whether it be of advisors, family or friends is also invaluable.

What is the best piece of advice you have ever received?

Follow your gut. I don’t think my gut feeling has ever let me down. However, at times I’ve second-guessed myself. Take advice, read, listen and consider but follow your gut instinct.

What has been the biggest challenge you have had to overcome?

My biggest challenge is finding the right work-life balance and that’s something that unfortunately I’ve not mastered. I remember reading a book very early on in setting the company up and it laid bare the sacrifices you would have to make to in terms of social, personal and family life. Mum guilt, in particular, is hard, as is leaving little time for yourself but I’m turning a corner to achieve a better balance with each month so I’d say success is moving in the right direction.

What are your plans for the future?

We have some incredible new brands making their debut with us in the Middle East for the first time over the next few weeks and months. These brands we head hunted down and were delighted when they said they loved what we were doing and wanted to be a part of it. We are also launching some of our brands into five-star hotel spa and wellness concepts spanning Bahrain, Abu Dhabi and KSA. This is incredibly exciting.

The platform keeps growing from strength to strength every month, and our customer return rate is amongst the best in the industry I am told. This means everything to me and I hope our customers continue to love what we are doing.

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Images: Supplied