Keeping a business going whilst suffering with long-covid

Faye Wilson

For our latest interview, Business Leader chatted to Faye Wilson, the Founder of Happier Beauty, about how to keep a business going whilst suffering with long-covid.

Why did you decide to quit your job as a senior buyer and start Happier Beauty?

Dental care seemed an overlooked product category that hadn’t kept pace with modern consumers’ expectations. The products were not sustainable, with over 1.5 billion single-use plastic toothpaste tubes going to landfill every year, and over 1 billion plastic toothbrushes landfilled annually.

Plus, toothpaste ingredients are opaque with numerous unpronounceable chemicals including petrochemicals, antibacterials and lots of artificial colours, flavours and sweeteners. I mean, why does toothpaste have to be bright blue? I don’t eat anything else that colour, so why would I put bright blue toothpaste in my mouth? Our mouths and gums are very absorbent as we start the digestive process in our mouths, so why would we put lots of unknown chemicals in our mouths?

Has your experience as a senior buyer been beneficial when starting your own business?

Yes, hugely. As a buyer, you have to behave like an entrepreneur, focusing on exactly what the consumer wants and ensuring that all possible revenue streams are maximised. Buyers are also responsible for delivering the sales targets, so I know I can handle the pressure of being responsible for delivering millions of pounds worth of sales every week. Plus, I’ve worked with many.

What stage was your business at when you contracted COVID-19 and how did you manage to keep it going?

I got covid six months after I launched Happier Beauty, and so it was a crucial time. Due to my illness, I wasn’t able to maintain the momentum of the great launch Happier Beauty had; in its first 3 months, Happier Beauty was picked up by Vogue to feature in their Beauty picks for 2021, got amazing customer feedback and sold out completely!

When I got covid in early March 2020, I had to stop all work on Happier Beauty, stop all marketing, PR and business development whilst I recovered. I keep the website live, but as you can imagine, customers soon dwindled with no marketing.

How have you managed to continue running a successful business whilst suffering with long covid, and what advice would you give to someone else that is going through the same thing?

I’ve had to learn to be very disciplined and have to work as efficiently as I can when I feel great. When I feel a bit grotty, I’ve learnt to pace myself and not beat myself up if I can’t do as much as I would like. It is hard to balance work with my health, but so far so good!

What treatment is currently available for long covid sufferers here in the UK and is it sufficient?

Unfortunately, there is very little treatment available for long covid sufferers. My doctor has been very supportive, but there isn’t much she can do, other than sympathise. I was only able to access a Long Covid clinic from March 2021. I managed to recover by eating whole foods and cutting out all processed food and carbs. I now do not drink alcohol or caffeine and have cut out sugar, dairy and gluten.

What trends are you currently seeing in the eco-friendly toothpaste market and what do you expect from the industry post-COP26?

I expect there to be a refill revolution, with Happier Beauty leading the charge! It is becoming clear that recycling isn’t going to save us from the climate crisis, and that whilst recycling plastic is better than nothing, it’s only delaying plastic going to landfill as plastic can only be recycled once or twice.

In 2022, I expect the whole beauty industry to really ramp up development of refillable and reusable packaging to help reduce the amount of plastic that is only used once or twice.