MY WEEK: Farah Naz, EX1

The beauty queen talks perfecting her products, walking away from investors - and why creativity counts.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013
This week has been all about finalising paperwork: my make-up brand, EX1, launched into Harvey Nichols last month and we have some other, really exciting retailers lined up. So I’ve spent the week working with retailers, making sure their targets are being hit - all the usual stuff.

The launch into retailers was the conclusion of two years’ hard work. I actually originally created the range in 2009: we went into Fenwick’s and Lloyds Pharmacy. But I decided to relaunch the range two years ago, and wanted to create something really special for women with olive skins.

My background is as a biochemist, so I’ve spent the past two years working on the formulations and the textures of the products. It’s taken a really long time to perfect everything - it would have been very easy to manufacture something similar to a product that already exists - but I didn’t want that.

During the relaunch, I’ve had to make some of the hardest decisions of my life. I walked away from two venture capitalists before I found the right one. As a startup you’re always short of funds, but sometimes you just have to be able to say no in business. I think you’ve got to do things at the right time - you have to wait. Thankfully, it paid off: I now have investment from a Kuwaiti firm which is perfect for us.

What I love about the job is that I can combine my scientific background with something a bit more creative. Sometimes you’re boxed off - but it allows me to unleash both sides of my personality. Sometimes people make you think you’re either a creative or a logical thinker - but I think it’s possible to be both.

My day usually starts early: I try to get an hour of work in before breakfast. That’s partly because I have to work with businesses in a lot of different time zones - so I’ve learned not to operate within normal working days. I have to have that flexibility.

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