You can be kind in business and still go far. Both Johnny and I always strive to be kind and we never believe you have to be ruthless to be successful. Behind every brand there are real humans working hard and it’s important to respect every single person you meet as you do not know where they have come from. If people are rude or incredibly hard to work with we still always remain professional and kind. We want to build a reputation of being a nice and easy to work with businesses in the industry and would hate the thought of anyone ever saying otherwise.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Pauline Paterson. Co-Founder of Dr.PAWPAW. An Expert hair stylist turned beauty boss, Pauline Paterson, along with husband Johnny Paterson are the founders of Europe’s best selling pawpaw balm, Dr.PAWPAW. Australia-born, Pauline’s creative color career with a world-leading brand took her to the UK in 1999. During this time in London, Pauline met Johnny, the pair went on to wed in 2010 and now have two children Jasmine (8) and Jackson (5). In 2012 the husband and wife team identified a huge want and need in the UK beauty industry for pawpaw balms and in 2013, they created their first product Dr.PAWPAW Original Balm. This was the UK’s first pawpaw balm, and the first to include a trio of hard-working hero ingredients, pawpaw fruit (Papaya), Aloe Vera Oil and Olive Oil. Since then Pauline and Johnny have continued to innovate creating the UK’s first tinted pawpaw balms, as well as multi-purpose hair and body products suitable for the whole family including one’s with sensitive skin. Dr.PAWPAW is now distributed in over 30 countries around the world and sold in many leading online and high street retailers. Both Pauline and Johnny now manage a team of ten in their London Offices, and have created an award-winning product range that is loved by celebrities, make-up artists and beauty lovers around the world.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I was born in Australia and grew up using pawpaw balms to answer nearly every skin need in the family home and when I came to the UK I was so shocked you couldn’t get them easily. I was always buying it when I went home and bringing it back for my friends. It was when our daughter was diagnosed with eczema that the need for a natural alternative to the normal steroid prescription creams turned a want into a must. We first tried to bring an Australian brand over to distribute it in the UK but a lot of them we spoke to didn’t want to export. That’s when we decided to do it ourselves and make our own pawpaw balms and make them widely available to everyone around the world, not just in Australia.
What do you think makes your company stand out? Can you share a story?
What makes our company stand out is that we’re a very inclusive brand, we’ve always sought to make all the packaging and fragrances unisex, we also wanted to make sure that our products are suitable for all skin types and suitable for all ages. Every time we develop a new product we always ensure it’s tested on all different skin types, age groups and both men and women! We listen to their feedback and apply it. We also make sure that our team members are involved in this process, it’s important to us to get their thoughts and opinions before we launch anything new,this included everyone in the business from our finance department to our marketing girls.
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
I took on a LOT after becoming a mom, and had to learn how to balance new motherhood and keeping my business head strong. Looking back, I wouldn’t be so hard on myself! While this isn’t a ‘mistake’ per-say, women are often supercritical of themselves trying to ‘do it all’, and it is OK to step back and redefine what being a ‘mom’ and ‘business owner’ looks like for you
If you could go back in time and talk to your younger self what would you tell him / her and why?
I would probably tell my younger self to have more confidence in my ideas and to believe in my decisions. As now I truly believe you know the best results for you! I would also tell myself that you don’t always need recognition from everyone, I’m a real people pleaser and it’s important to know early on that you shouldn’t seek approval from absolutely everyone. You don’t need it from every single person you meet or work with, but from the people that truly matter.
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story?
Johnny, my husband. We’re always a team, he believes in my ideas and I believe in his and we support each other unconditionally. Neither of us could have created or continued to run our business without each others support. We’ve built such a strong partnership whilst building both our family and our brand at the same time. We balance every aspect of our lives by always accommodating each other and juggling our very hectic diaries together. We manage the business as a pair and have clear areas we look after but still consult each other on important decisions. We believe two heads are always better than one. We also look after our children as an equal team, if I have an important meeting it’s his turn to do the school run and vice versa.
How have you used your success to bring goodness to the world?
In 2019 we decided to team up with the UK charity Crisis who strive to end homelessness. It’s always been a cause close to our hearts and this year we decided to donate a % of our total sales to support their cause. Our Original Balm is also the perfect product for those who unfortunately are living without a home or place to stay, especially in the winter months, a soothing balm for lips and skin can really make a difference. Our Everybody Range is also distributed around their different drop-in centers and placed in those that have wash facilities. As well as this our whole team are signed up to do a full day at their Dagenham, Essex warehouse where we will be helping them to pack up essential item kits that will be handed out this Christmas across the country to those in need.
In 2017 we launched our Shea Butter balm. As part of this launch we chose to support the Ghanian women’s project, they provide a safe and fair working conditions for the women who harvest the Shea Butter you find in our balms. We also ensure that it has come from a sustainable source.
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me before I started leading my company” and why. Please share a story or example for each.
- It’s easier to open doors, but it’s harder to get repeat sales. We’re now trading in many different territories and getting the initial orders seems to be the easy part. It’s getting those repeat sales and getting people to understand and want to buy the product that is the hardest after the first order. We handover to our different distributors and the buyers know how good the product is, it’s just getting that bigger message out to the whole world and getting them to buy it that takes work.
- It takes an expert and experienced marketing, PR and social media team to build the brand. Some people think they don’t need this or it’s not important but it really is and these teams contribute hugely to making people want to buy our product and creating brand awareness around the world. Which is what it takes to get those repeat orders.
- Always listen to advice, but you don’t always have to take it. I’m always listening and researching start-up brands, listening to the advice of fellow entrepreneurs but it’s really important to know that what might work for someone else or someone else’s brand may not always automatically work for you too.
- You can be kind in business and still go far. Both Johnny and I always strive to be kind and we never believe you have to be ruthless to be successful . Behind every brand there are real humans working hard and it’s important to respect every single person you meet as you do not know where they have come from. If people are rude or incredibly hard to work with we still always remain professional and kind. We want to build a reputation of being a nice and easy to work with businesses in the industry and would hate the thought of anyone ever saying otherwise.
- You’ll be working 24 / 7 — We never stop and it’s impossible to not bring work home with us, especially being business partners. We have so many customers in different time zones means we’re constantly communicating and checking emails for anything urgent. After we have dinner with the kids & after they go to bed there’s always something that needs doing.
What’s your favorite quote and why? How has it inspired you in business today?
Work hard and play hard. — I believe in a strong work life balance and we provide this for our entire team with flexible working hours to make sure family life doesn’t have to come second. Myself and the whole team work hard — really hard — and there are some stressful moments, but we work hard to be able to really enjoy and treasure time off when we have it. We’re all so passionate as a small team to make sure the business does well and we all get the benefits when it does!
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)
It would have to be putting certain laws in place to make things like equal pay for women and child labour 100% illegal, no loop holes, no exceptions — just not allowed. Any woman doing the same job as any man should absolutely be entitled to the same pay, we’ve come so far we need to reflect this in the workplace too. There have been some horrible stories recently, you almost don’t believe things like this can still be happening in the world, but companies should never compromise on getting the cheapest cost at any expense. No farmer should be forced to employ children to pay them less than an adult in order to meet the demand of the low costs larger companies will only pay. Finally if we put an end to poverty and shared the world’s wealth, this would also stop children needing to go out and work in order to feed themselves.
It’s a snowball effect that needs to start somewhere!
Every industry constantly evolves and seeks improvement. How do you think the fashion industry can improve itself? Can you give an example?
It can definitely improve on the sustainable front. It has come a long way but not far enough. Throwaway fashion is still a huge influence in the fashion industry. Designers should be creating affordable, sustainable fashion that you can wear for more than one season not just bumping the price tag up and making it look like a luxury privilege to help the planet reduce waste.
Do you see any fascinating developments emerging over the next few years in the beauty industry that you are excited about? Can you tell us about that?
Really excited to see more and more brands going back to nature and making all their sourcing of ingredients a sustainable process. By no means all, but the good companies out there are very aware of the impact we are having on the environment. We’re all putting in our own measures to ensure we’re doing all that we can. We have always ensured all our plastics are 100% recyclable and will always endeavor to do so. We’ve just invested in cardboard boxes for all our orders and send outs replacing jiffy bags. More is definitely on the horizon to ensure we can be as sustainable and environmentally friendly as possible.
If you could meet anyone either living or no longer with us for breakfast or lunch who would it be and why?
I would have to pick, Sarah Jessica Parker and P!NK. Both for different reasons. SJP because of her contribution to the beauty and fashion industries, she’s an amazing business woman and her brand has become so strong over the years. She’s a working mom too which I admire and like many I grew up with Sex and the City, so it’s had a big influence on me in more ways than one. P!NK because she’s unapologetic, I love her attitude to most things, and feel so inspired that she never compromised or gave into the generic pop star image but still has built such a career in spite of that. Another example of a working mom that’s absolutely smashing it, her music is brilliant and inspiring and I’ve been a fan since the very beginning. I have absolutely loved her two recent albums and been truly grateful to be able to introduce my kids to her. I, along with both my daughter and my son are always singing to her in the car and I’d love to tell her that!
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