Lorna Mitchell: “Make time and space to work on yourself, for yourself”

…I believe that becoming a trusted voice in this space provides the biggest opportunity for impact. That means leading by example, building a community through a lens of honesty, transparency, authenticity, values and purpose, as well as demonstrating a real depth of care. At times, the most powerful results come from being overly transparent; being […]

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…I believe that becoming a trusted voice in this space provides the biggest opportunity for impact. That means leading by example, building a community through a lens of honesty, transparency, authenticity, values and purpose, as well as demonstrating a real depth of care. At times, the most powerful results come from being overly transparent; being prepared to say what we don’t know, or can’t do but being clear in our vision for improvement.

I had the pleasure of interviewing Lorna Mitchell.

Co-founder of the multi award-winning Noughty haircare brand which launched in September 2016, Lorna Mitchell is a former Product and Brand Director with 20 years beauty industry experience creating, growing or developing British brands.

Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

As a brand and product curator, I constantly call on the insight and instinct my backstory has taught me because I have been lucky enough to work for the Founders of some of the most renowned beauty and fashion brands on the UK High street. From French Connection and Jigsaw in fashion to Liz Earle and Elemis in beauty and well-being, I ve witnessed first-hand what it takes, not only to build a successful brand but also a resilient one; one that succeeds no matter what the market challenges. Despite being at very different stages in their life cycle, each brand is a success story in its own right. I’m truly privileged to have been able to learn from each journey and deduce three fundamental commonalities to building growth and value into a brand: a strong purpose, a close connection to customers, and the role and importance of innovation. Today, these areas have become the entire focus of my work. Whilst the industry has changed radically over the 20 years of my career, these critical-success factors actually haven’t changed at all. However, what has changed significantly, is the expectation and meaning behind each one. Learning directly from founders has taught me the importance of staying ahead of these market shifts, whilst staying true to a founding vision.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

In my career to date, the person with whom I initially clashed the most, made me feel the most challenged and the most uncomfortable, is today my best friend. I was working in fashion at the time and had spent the last few years being really comfortable in my job, until a change in long term objectives for the business brought about a new Creative Director who quickly brought in her own team for a few key roles. My role meant working closely with one of the new team members, whom I can only describe as a total disruptor and true power-house of a woman who had been working in New York for the few years prior. I don’t remember what our first meeting was about — I only remember us both making a lot of assumptions about each other based on a set of precariously preconceived ideas. This of course, caused our critical working relationship to get off to the worst possible start. In the end, it was a deep respect for each other’s talent that enabled me to see beyond the assumptions and find one of the most inspirational and valuable friendships present in my life today. Sometimes, the people that challenge you the most, or make you feel the worst kind of uncomfortable, can also be the people that teach you or inspire you the most. So never assume anything and always confront the uncomfortable feelings. When you can see beyond your own personal limitations, you might just find something very powerful.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

Quite simply, compromising on my vision in order to consider and respond to the opinions of other key stakeholders. At the time, I wasn’t in tune enough with my own intuition, nor was I confident enough to believe in it, or mature enough to understand the value in finding a way to convince others of the importance of it. I was riddled with imposter syndrome, believing that the status and credentials of others meant that their opinions were more valid than my own. Today, I understand, and am deeply grateful for my intuition as part of my value and for the vital role it plays as one of my truly unique selling points. I intuitively see a brand or a product through the ever-evolving lens of a customer, and this has become my north star for decision-making in product and brand development. I’ve also worked hard to evolve my self-belief so I no longer feel embarrassed to talk about the value I add to a business. In fact today, I see it as my unique purpose to bridge the gap that exists between the scientist creating a product in a lab and the changing needs of the beauty and wellness consumer.

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 about that?

My father. He’s my inspiration. He always has been. He was a farmer, as were his fore-fathers but he was brave enough to leave farming — a way of life for his generation — in order to grow and develop, to achieve more and create positive change for his own life and for his family. He has given me the gift of having a vision, and shown me the value of resilience, bravery, hard work, vulnerability and kindness in order to realise it. His kindness has meant that at times, people could have taken advantage of him but his intuition has helped him avoid that. He has taught me the power of a network and that you can be hugely liked and respected, and still be incredibly successful. The two are not mutually exclusive. I have only actually attended two “cold” interview processes in my career — where I wasn’t recommended for a role through my network. One was for my first ever job, and the second was when moving industries from fashion to beauty. He also has a true skill in applying his knowledge to new situations and when he doesn’t know something, he chooses to invest his own time in order to learn about it for himself from the best experts. He is truly entrepreneurial in his spirit, which has meant that sometimes he has lost, in order to win. I perceive this as one of the most valuable and humbling lessons that has helped me get to where I am.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

I believe that becoming a trusted voice in this space provides the biggest opportunity for impact. That means leading by example, building a community through a lens of honesty, transparency, authenticity, values and purpose, as well as demonstrating a real depth of care. At times, the most powerful results come from being overly transparent; being prepared to say what we don’t know, or can’t do but being clear in our vision for improvement. There is also an opportunity to improve the choice available to underserved communities — to deliver better performing, higher emotionally valuable products at more affordable prices so customers don’t have to compromise on their ethics and values in order to buy into a brand. Dedicating time to educate in the facts is also really important, using science as a grounding influence for trust and transparency, avoiding greenwashing, empowering habit changes in “well-care” as well as educating in the wider habit changes needed for improved sustainability and a shift to a more circular economy

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

Make time and space to work on yourself, for yourself.

For me, The Class by Taryn Toomey is my personal commitment to self-development. It is “a transformative workout of the body and mind”. Whilst the practice happens on a mat, “through simple, repetitive calisthenics and plyometrics”, the Class challenges the body to fully engage the mind. With guided instruction and powerful music, the result is an expansive, heart-clearing and body-strengthening release.

“The quality of our relationships determines the quality of our lives.” “Human connection has transformative power in all aspects of our lives”.

These are the founding beliefs of Belgian Psychotherapist Esther Perel. whose podcasts can help lead to a deeper focus on relationship development as a means to improved wellness.

Develop daily habits or stress relief rituals, as techniques and tools for improved wellness.

I spend at least one minute each day (and often closer to 30) tapping, twisting and shaking the body to clear areas of stagnation as defined by Katie Brindles Hay’ou method.

Tune in to your sources of inspiration, creativity and fun. Is design your source of joy? Is it travel, friends, unique spaces or the outdoors? Sometimes I stumble upon a new experience or person that leaves me feeling totally energised. But my daily invitation to play with my dog, when his nose nudges my leg, he jumps on to my laptop keyboard and conducts a downward dog at 6pm every evening is my reminder it’s time to shift my focus to fun.

Remove judgement from your internal conversations and external influences. Master the art of acceptance. Acceptance is a powerful coping mechanism for many emotions including grief, turmoil, stress and pain. With acceptance, comes healing and healing helps avoid these negative emotions raising their head in ways that may not, at first sight, be connected.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

The movement would focus on blending traditional eastern principles with more modern and emerging western influences, combining the best of their practices in order to develop the most powerful tools, methods and products for whole being wellness, truly capturing the connection between the mind, body and spiritual self.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Never ignore, hide or undervalue what is important to you. Your values should be your most important inner compass.

  1. Don’t compromise personal development for career development. Success goes way beyond title or status and personal development is often so much more rewarding.
  2. Recognise the skills that complement your own and don’t be afraid to employ the very best people with those skills;
  3. Always keep your eyes open for new talent– even if you don’t have the right job to fill at that moment. Some of my best hires have been people I have found opportunities for in order to get them into the business.
  4. Don’t let fear be your debilitator and learn to use vulnerability as your enabler. Two of the hardest personal challenges I have had to overcome but two of the most rewarding and the most valuable to conquer.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment. Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Yes these are big topics around which there are many, differing opinions. For me however, the causes are all connected by one factor — respect — a trait which underpins our ability to create change for the better in all of these areas. And its change for the better that is the cause above all, that is dearest to me. By being an advocate for respect, I believe we can all go some way towards making significant positive change. With more respect for our planet, our behaviour as consumers will change. With more respect for animals and for each other we can work towards significantly improving animal rights and mental health. I found the recent suicide of British Presenter Caroline Flack, hugely disturbing. Reference has been made to “some form of a breakdown” as a contributing factor to her suicide, potentially linked on to online-abuse. I want to be a true ambassador of kindness and of respect and hope that in using my voice in that way, I am addressing all of these big topics in a way that can contribute to change.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

On Instragram @lornalovinglife or on Linked In.

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