Introducing the founder of Wô Skincare, Karen Lee-Thompson. Discover why Karen started the sustainable skincare revolution and the struggles she has faced. What motivated you to start Wǒ? And how do you stay motivated? Well, being in the industry for almost two decades and working on so many different brands in the past myself, I couldn’t help but feel there are still many consumer needs that have not yet been resolved, particularly in an inclusive, holistic way. Wǒ was founded with the desire to be a brand that champions simplicity and inclusion. When working with fellow beauty industry experts, both old and new, I always try to spread the word that these fundamental values of Wǒ are the key to fulfilling consumers' needs now and in the future. Knowing that we can influence some customers each day and offer an effective and sustainable solution that they are looking for is enough motivation. Simply live and breathe the values we've created as a brand business, and have the conviction that we are doing the right thing. Were you ever told that you or Wǒ wouldn't be successful? Of course! It happens all the time from the moment I started building the brand and product concept, launching the brand, to growing and promoting the brand now. The truth is that I don’t mind people challenging my thinking with good rationale and constructive advice; after all, I’m building a consumer-facing brand/business, which means listening to feedback is a vital part of moving towards success! However, it is equally important to filter out the “noises” or those who just have negative motives. How did you overcome criticism of your leadership/brand? I believe that everyone you meet has something of value to contribute and that each person has a right to an opinion. This has stood me in great stead throughout my career, and I love speaking to people outside of my usual beauty circle on all things business; often, the most inspiring ideas come when you least expect them. As long as I can communicate my vision clearly to my team or the people external, sometimes criticism can turn out to be the biggest blessing. Being a new business in a learning mode, the worst situation would be that you don’t get any feedback from anyone at all! How did you become successful despite gender inequalities? We all have different strengths and unique skill sets. As an ethnic minority and female, I always take the approach of building connections with others. Be confident to speak up and share my own views; people notice and respect my contribution. Luckily, throughout my career, I’ve come across many mentors, both women and men, who were super supportive of my growth. What are you most proud of to date? OMG! It has to be when Wǒ being crowned “The Best New Skincare Brand” at the Pure Beauty Award 2021 ceremony! I bet not many people expected us to win the award, being so new to the market. It was amazing to know my vision for Wǒ was recognised by many people as the award was voted by the public. Another one was being featured on The Telegraph on Boxing Day last year; if I told myself a few years back that my photo would appear in the mainstream newspaper, I’d probably have laughed. What struggles have you faced? What barriers have you come across? As a small brand owner, the primary battle is getting yourself out there, being heard and seen. There are loads of new brands coming into the market every day, and you only have consumers' attention for about 3 seconds, so that is tough. Finding support financially (cash) or physically (other resources) is a full-time job itself! But I find careful planning and being ruthlessly objective when making choices helps overcome the ambiguity daily. And there are never enough hours in the day balancing between business and family, but again, clear communication and managing everyone's expectations is the key. What advice would you give your 15 year old self? Believe in yourself and keep on learning. How do you stay sane!? Self-care is essential for everyone. I often find myself more energetic and creative after having a good night's sleep. Spending time outdoors with my family usually does the trick too. During the week, I would make sure that I do my yoga, listen to motivational talk or music on "Calm" (everyone should have this brilliant app!), and eat well-balanced meals. I love watching dramas or reading good fiction that takes my mind completely off work if I have more time. Who do you turn to for support? My talented team and a very supportive business/career mentor of mine, whom I can rely on when facing challenges in business. And my husband is my rock emotionally; when sometimes running a new business becomes overwhelming, he can always help put things in perspective for me. Our FLO She-e-o's, Tara and Susan also chatted with the team at Wô over on their website journal!