MOVERS + SHAKERS | MEET VENETIA ARCHER, FOUNDER OF RUUBY: THE BEAUTY INDUSTRY'S ANSWER TO UBER
Following on from Monday's post I'm excited to introduce my first mover and shaker!
Venetia Archer founded RUUBY, an app she describes as 'London’s digital beauty concierge, offering five-star services directly to your door.' Here we step into her fast-paced world running a London start-up, the value of having a strong team around her and the other apps and beauty products she can't live without.
What inspired you to start Ruuby? Do you come from a tech or beauty background?
I come from neither. I was inspired to begin Ruuby after spotting a gap in the market for a beauty platform like this. I began work on Ruuby in 2014 and we officially went live in 2015. This was a time when Uber and Deliveroo had just hit London and I thought a similar service for much-needed beauty appointments would be a saviour for many Londoners.
What’s your typical 9-5?
It varies hugely. I am trying to compartmentalise my week better so that I have external meetings on certain days, and can block out full days in the office to get on with work. My days usually start with a review of the previous days figures... I have an app on my phone that shows me how many bookings we have and I’m constantly checking it. Then, it’s a mixture of talking to investors and other stakeholders and managing new products within the team. At the moment we are super growth-oriented and so a lot of my day is spent analysing our different marketing channels and seeing how those might be optimised. If I need a break from the heavy stuff, I distract myself with Ruuby Instagram and ordering stuff like Ruuby branding pencils or T-shirts...
'The emotional highs and lows are tiring but they are what excite me'
Starting a business in London is no mean feat – how have you found the process?
It’s a lot more dynamic than I ever knew and even in my small time as a business owner I’ve been fascinated to learn how quickly market forces adapt and shift. That has been exciting and I love building Ruuby’s relevance and commercial viability. Starting the business was hard and each day brings a new struggle, but also a new success. The emotional highs and lows can be tiring, but they are what excite me.
How do you stay on top of an ever-changing tech landscape?
I really rely on my CTO, who is incredibly switched on, and we discuss all of our options at great length. It’s a collaborative process and one that requires constant engagement with other developers and tech communities.
What products do you use on a daily basis, both skincare and makeup?
I absolutely love IS Clinical cleanser and Erborian tinted moisturiser. I then add an IS Clinical serum overnight, which is miraculous. The impact in the skin is immediate. Eyeko is my favourite eyeliner, and I am partial to a Kevyn Aucoin lipliner too...
C A R E E R A D V I C E
How has experience from previous jobs contributed to Ruuby?
My first role was in investigative research. I used to be given really wild tasks that might have seemed impossible to answer. I cultivated a can do approach and I think that sheer confidence that anything is possible has really helped me aggressively push and work on the Ruuby concept, which at times has proved rather challenging too.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given / advice you would give to entrepreneurs starting out?
Listen to your consumers. Requirements constantly change and your clients really do evolve. We launched Ruuby with a focus on high-end salon appointments and the on-demand piece was just an add on. I personally wasn't convinced. After about a year, the numbers proved that the opportunity really lay in servicing clients at home and we have since truly embraced this focus. We had to slowly rebuild our technical infrastructure to support this side, but it's been absolutely worth it.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I look at other innovative, modern brands. I love to see how other businesses are changing that consumer-business relationship. I hate the impersonal aspect of large, established companies, and I’m excited by the challenge of reworking that.
What are your tips for staying motivated?
Surround yourself with positive, hard-working, inspiring people. The road can be lonely, and it’s important to protect against this. I love speaking with other business owners and understanding their approaches to problems I might be facing. There’s never one right way and that’s motivating in itself.
Running your own business can be relentless. How do you switch off?
To that... I don’t know the answer! Exercise is good – it’s an hour where you simply can’t think about work, so it’s enforced. Stage 2: meditation.
'The road can be lonely... surround yourself with positive, hard-working, inspiring people'
Q U I C K F I R E R O U N D
Beauty product you never leave the house without?
By Terry Baume de Rose.
Fire and Ice facial at Dr Preema.
Last person you called?
My financial advisor.
Lark or night owl?
Lark! I get up at 6.30.
Non-fiction business books.
I take Uber everywhere. It’s not ok.
Other go-to apps?
Planoly for Instagram and Slack for talking to my team.
Huge thank you to Venetia for taking time to be interviewed for my blog and sharing her wisdom.
Images supplied by Venetia and sourced via Pinterest.