My Week: Lisa Hilton of Rehab London

Her products are a favourite of Simon Cowell, keep Strictly's dancers blemish-free and assure the dewy complexions of the cast of Downton Abbey. Meet Lisa Hilton, founder of natural skincare range for men, Rehab London.

by Rebecca Burn-Callander
Last Updated: 09 Oct 2013

I've been a hair and make-up artist for more than 20 years. I've worked on hundreds of movies and TV shows, from A Week With Marilyn to Strictly Come Dancing. In 2007, though, I decided that I wanted to put all that I had learned from working on people's faces to launch my own skincare business, Rehab London.

Men have always been a bit short-changed in the skincare department. Big beauty houses like Procter & Gamble and L'Oreal tend to launch their men's products as an afterthought: X or Y 'for men'. I wanted to create a men's skincare brand that was tailored exclusively for them, that was natural on the inside but a bit rock'n'roll on the outside. Going for the male market also made sense from a business point if view. If you want to launch a range of women's skincare products you need to have a lot of cash behind you. It's extremely competitive.

These days I spend a lot of my time working on product placements and PR. I still have lots of friends in the industry, so I spend about two or three days a month dusting off my make-up brushes and working on the set of Downton Abbey, Strictly Come Dancing and X Factor - I always take a few Rehab London products with me of course. The cast of Downton Abbey liked the products so much that they asked to meet me. Allen Leech, who plays Tom in the show, was a particular fan. And I know for a fact that Simon Cowell always keeps a pot of Rehab London's Revive Survive cream on his dressing table.

But it's not all showbiz. Last week, I met with the buyers from John Lewis to talk about stocking Rehab in its chain of department stores. Usually, when you meet a retailer at this time of year, you're talking about getting stock to them for Spring or Summer of the following year. But John Lewis decided that they wanted me to put together a special shaving gift box for all 30 stores in time for Christmas. That gave me two weeks to turn it around!

As you can imagine, this has left me a bit busy. I'm not only working on the John Lewis order either, I'm working on all the other orders that have come in because of the John Lewis order - all the retailers that were sitting on the fence have now decided to go for it. But that's always the way in this business. The rest of my time is divided up speaking to my various distributors around the world. When I speak to my US distributors, they like formal conference calls to a landline. In Australia, they like to use Viber on the iPhone. I've had to get very good at juggling all the different ways of communicating.

Sales are up almost 100-fold for the second half of this year so I'm pretty sure that 2013 is going to be really big for Rehab. I'm really glad that the brand I spent three years developing is finally getting some traction around the world. Who knows, when you print out your Euromonitor Survey in six months, Rehab might elbow one of the big five companies out of the way and come in at five or six in skincare sales. Fingers crossed.

Find out more about Rehab London

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