An Interview with Founder Phil Smith of Phil Smith Be Gorgeous

Phil Smith Founder of Phil Smith Be Gorgeous

Meet Phil of Phil Smith Be Gorgeous

Hairdresser, businessman, husband and father, Phil Smith is a humble addition to the British hairdressing industry. With a love for his craft and a drive for business, Phil has shaped his 36 year career and many others in a quiet, confident manner.

Consistently pushing forward Phil Smith has done it all. Multi-salon owner, award winner, celebrity hairdresser, international showman and lately, industry business activist; Phil is a political player who isn’t afraid to show his hand. An open and honest guy, Phil takes the time to listen to others and fight the battle for small businesses.
Visits to Downing Street to stand up for independent salons have encouraged Phil to continue in his plight in reducing tax and promoting the right way to run a business.

Consolidating his 28 global Toni & Guy units into one flagship Smith England salon, Phil made the bold decision that less is more. This move has allowed Phil to focus his energy on campaigning for better business rates, building his product portfolio and launching the newest range in his portfolio; Smith England.

1.Can you explain to us how the idea for your business came to you and how the whole process kicked off?

At the time, I was the only one of six British Hairdresser of the Year nominees not to have their own product range, so Sainsbury’s approached me off the back of my nomination. We had numerous meetings about how a branded haircare brand would sell in a supermarket and the rest, they say is history. We’ve worked together in an exclusive relationship for over 15 years, with my products available in over 800 stores across the UK. I have developed and driven the brand with them by my side and Phil Smith Be Gorgeous now has a portfolio of 41 products.

2.What were the biggest challenges you faced when bringing the idea to market?

When I first launched my brand the market was highly saturated, particularly in Boots. To launch into a supermarket was a challenge as we had no idea how the consumer would react to it. There was no other hair-endorsed brands in supermarkets but I’m proud to say that it has grown from day one.

Slow and steady is better than explosive because what comes up, must come down and I will be damned if I don’t want to keep going up for a long time.

3.Where do you think good ideas come from and what inspires you?

Successful people inspire me. I don’t mean successful in monetary terms but people that achieve. I am attracted to those that have drive and determination to follow and fight for what they believe in. I find it very inspirational to watch people succeed. 

I think most good ideas already exist. It’s incredibly hard to create something new but what does make a difference is how you bring them to life. Your style, principles, determination and route to market is what makes you different. It’s your personality, your story, and the delivery of both that people buy into. This is what makes you successful. Anyone that has the courage to simply start the journey has my admiration.

4.What are your company’s values and why are these things important to the business?

Our key value is sustainability and that is why I have spent the last two years reformulating and repackaging the entire product portfolio. I am now the first celebrity endorsed haircare range to be Leaping Bunny approved. The first to also use sustainably soured palm oil and the first to use PCR plastic. This means my packaging comes from recycled plastic and can go on to be recycled. All whilst offering great haircare. 

It is important to be seen as a leader and to want to do good in life. These are my own personal beliefs and they reflect those of the business. 

It is crucial that a company knows and respects their brand values. To be successful in business you have to know what you stand for and believe in it fully. For us, we want to provide salon quality haircare, we want to be successful but not at the expense of animals or our planet. 

5.What is next for your brand?

Growth. We saw a large increase in turnover during lockdown while salons were closed. It is inevitable that this will tail off slightly as salons reopen and consumer spending changes again. 

As part of the rebrand, we included foreign translations on the packaging labels. This gives us scope to take Phil Smith Be Gorgeous further a field. I am currently in talks with distributors in South Africa, Australia and Europe.

6.What one piece of advice would you have for someone just starting out on their business journey or currently going through a setback?

Honestly, I would say in business there are more downs than ups. But the ups feel so much better than the downs. Launching and running a business is all consuming, there will be big sacrifices you need to make along the way. There will be difficult decisions and dark days. However, like I said, the good times make up for all of that. Stay focused and don’t give up.

When I opened my first salon my mum gave me a card with a poem on it and I still read it on a weekly basis all these years later.

Don’t You Quit 

When things go wrong, as they sometimes will,
When the road you’re trudging seems all uphill,
When the funds are low and the debts are high,
And you want to smile, but you have to sigh,
When care is pressing you down a bit-
Rest if you must, but don’t you quit.
Life is queer with its twists and turns,
As every one of us sometimes learns,
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don’t give up though the pace seems slow –
You may succeed with another blow.

7.What resources and tools do you use to remain productive or up-to-date on industry trends etc?

Relationships are key. Working with a good PR is important to keep you on track and productive. Your manufacturers are also a good resource to utilise when it comes to trends as they are often at the forefront. However, customer relationships are also crucial. Trends can start with the customer and work their way back to the brands so listen to your customers as they too can help direct the business.

If you would like to include anything else about your journey, plans for the future or general information you would like us to cover, please include here: 

Just wanted to say that as much learning as you can do from other experts etc. you should never underestimate the power of Googling things for yourself. The internet has the answer to literally anything. Don’t waste your time or money on things you can learn for free.

More info on Phil Smith Be Gorgeous

Brand Name: Phil Smith Be Gorgeous
Facebook handle: @philsmithhair
Instagram handle: @philsmithbegorgeous