Decisions: Millie Kendall, Hammer & Kendall

The co-founder of cosmetics consultants Hammer & Kendall explains the best and worst decisions she's made.

by Emma Haslett
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

MY BEST DECISION

... was to resign from Ruby & Millie, the cosmetics range I launched, which was (and still is) owned by Boots.

My business partner Ruby Hammer and I did it at the same time. It was a risky decision - the biggest risk I've ever taken. But in the end it was quite invigorating. We left the brand because it wasn't turning into what we wanted it to be. When I received samples, I could tell that the fragrance or the texture had changed, or something had happened: little things, like the brushes weren't the same. I couldn't control it, but my name was all over it. One day, I presented something I thought would be a great new product and a young girl said to me: 'But it's not very Ruby & Millie, is it?' I thought, well surely this brand is built on my aesthetic and what I like. It became very frustrating. It got to the point where I thought, what do I do? Shut my mouth and carry on taking the money, or walk away with my head held high? In that sense, I was between a bit of a rock and a hard place, but having made that decision, I felt quite proud.

MY WORST DECISION

... was probably to put my name and face to Ruby & Millie. The cosmetics industry is unusual in that, because of the high start-up costs, most brands end up being owned by big companies like L'Oreal or Procter & Gamble. With Ruby & Millie, Boots bankrolled everything, which was a benefit - £7m is a lot of money. People would come up to me and say: 'Oh my God - aren't you Millie from Ruby & Millie?' and I'd think, are you kidding me? I didn't expect it at all - I have no aspirations to fame or fortune.

Sometimes, I regret the decision to start a business, rather than be an employee. I'm a Taurus, I'm very cautious. I'm not a risk-taker and I like my life to be simple. Starting a business carries a lot of responsibility. I find it interesting when you hear people saying they want to be the next Alan Sugar, because I don't think they've thought it through. The burden of running your own business and having employees is huge. On bad days, that can certainly feel like one of the worst decisions I ever made.

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