Her mother founded the £40 million lingerie empire Ultimo, and it looks as if her daughter has inherited Michelle Mone’s incredible business acumen.
Rebecca Mone, 26, from Scotland took over utan – a self-tanning brand that was part of Ulitmo, at the request of her mother, but instant success certainly wasn’t handed to her, as she essentially start with nothing more than a brand name.
The budding entrepreneur had to devise a new product that would work in a saturated fake tan market, and arrange everything from production to marketing.
After identifying a gap in the market for ‘an easy to apply tan that could be misted on top of make-up without needing to wash your hands’, Rebecca launched her product and won three awards within six months.
She’s now on course to turn over £2M from her business by 2020, despite swearing she wouldn’t follow in the footsteps of Michelle and her ex-husband Michael, who co-founded Ultimo, to become an entrepreneur.
‘I saw the struggles and strain first hand and didn’t want to end up doing what they did – yet here I am,’ she told Femail.
Rebecca Mone, 26, from Scotland grew up in a world of business. As a child she swore she wouldn’t follow in her parents footsteps to become an entrepreneur
‘I won an award in High School for getting the top mark in Scotland for Business higher exam, and it was clear from then I had a natural “flair”‘ she continued.
‘After school, I did the furthest thing from business I could find, before I finally gave in to my calling.
‘I had always done bits for my parents’ business and, though I showed potential, I hated the bureaucracy of being told what to do — so I guess the signs were there that I would end up working for myself.’
In 2014, Baroness Mone sold all of her shares in Ultimo, but retained the utan name, and asked her daughter to help turn it into a brand in its own right.
Rebecca certainly had big shoes to fill, her mother Michelle Mone (pictured together left) was made a Baroness for her services to business. Her parents founded of underwear brand Ultimo, which they sold in a multi-million pound deal in 2014. Right: Rebecca with her mother and sister Beth
Always having had an interest in beauty, Rebecca set her sights on breaking into the fake tan market.
‘I saw what a huge task it was – there was little brand recognition, there were no staff, no formulas for the products, no production, no supply chain or distribution,’ she said.
‘It really was just a name with no business infrastructure and needed rebuilding from the ground up.
‘I knew the self-tan market — and beauty sector on the whole — was highly saturated, and that in order to make the brand a success, we had to offer people something better and unique, providing what other brands did not.
Her mother had previously run UTAN, a self-tanning brand, as part of Ultimo. ‘When my Mum sold her shares in Ultimo she kept the UTAN brand name and asked me to help run the business’ Rebecca explained (pictured, the latest UTAN product)
‘I set the mission statement to develop products better than anything on the market — high quality ingredients for impactful results with minimal hassle and fuss, at an affordable price point.’
Rebecca was also determined that there would be no ‘downsides’, such as being messy, time-consuming to apply, gimmicky, or ingredients like parabens.
‘I knew I had to run the business with minimum overheads, which meant doing most of the work myself and lots of sacrifice,’ she explained.
‘Time slowed right down and somehow each year that passed felt like 10.
‘Constantly pushing out of my comfort zone meant I learned, grew and matured a great deal in a business sense’ she continued.
Speaking of taking over the company, Rebecca (pictured on holiday with her family) explained: ‘I saw what a huge task it was — there was little brand recognition, there were no staff, no formulas for the products, no production, no supply chain or distribution – it really was just a name with no business infrastructure and needed rebuilt from the ground up’
‘I studied the competition and spoke to friends and family that were self-tan obsessed.
‘I didn’t do a business plan or any formal market research — I just put my whole focus on making the product formulas perfect- I thought, if I love them and my friends and family do, others will too.
‘I shared my ideas and Mum was so impressed she decided to take a step back and let me take the lead.’
Michelle made her daughter CEO, and her faith paid off as her product was an instant success.
It didn’t take long for Rebecca (pictured) to break out from her mother’s wing, with the company set to turn over £2million next year. ‘After a few years, I identified a gap in the market for an easy to apply tan that could be misted on top of make-up without needing to wash your hands and I knew exactly what would fill it’
Rebecca regularly shows off the results of her tanning online, posting bikini pictures from all over the world
‘As soon as we developed utan Coconut Tanning Water, we knew we had a game changer and that started a new chapter for the company.
‘It won three awards within six months including Product Of The Year at the OK! Magazine Awards,’ she said.
‘I did have to lend the company money last year when the Tan Gummies went viral to order huge amounts of stock upfront, but managed through invoice discounting and a bit of plate spinning.’
The gummies are a completely new product to the tanning industry. Instead of traditional tans that are applied to the skin, the gummies are chewed and tan you “from the inside out”.
Rebecca shows off the results of her tanning products on Instagram – with these pictures showing off a before and after application that was left overnight
A lot of utan’s marketing is through influencers, many of whom love the product, including Louise Thompson of Made in Chelsea fame
Rebecca says her products are different from other tanning products as they have a health element. Left: the tanning water with CBD, Right: her gummies which tan with vitamins
‘We experimented extensively with tried and tested ingredients that have been on the market for a long time’ Rebecca explained.
‘We finally found a blend of pigments that got the colour just right for the tan gummies.
‘If you ate a bag of carrots you would go orange but the tan gummies have yellow, red and orange pigments and when consumed for three to four weeks plus, customers without any sun have achieved a lovely light golden warmth to the skin through plant extracts.
‘You would have to eat more than 3800 calories worth of veg to get the same nutrition.
‘The partner product “Super-strength Vaycay Gummies” are flying off the shelves this year- they are used and only work with exposure to the sun’.
Rebecca’s latest product is a tanning oil which she’s launched with blogger and Instagram star Jamie Genevieve
Jamie Genevieve, who has 1.2million followers on Instagram, colloborated with her on the product
‘You still use your normal SPF as you would on holiday but the results people are getting are insane.
‘The patent pending technology means they don’t reach the stomach acid so are absorbed in the mouth and we have used all vegan ingredients at effective levels.
‘Compared to some premium tan supplement brands/pills customers get so much value for their money from UTAN and undeniable results, which is always out number one goal
‘Ingredients are held in the buccal cavity (mouth and cheeks) for longer, allowing for better absorption and better results. The blend of pigments deposit in your cells to give your skin a natural glow.
Rebecca’s tanning gummies have taken off thanks to marketing by influencers, such as Geordie Shore star Holly Hagan (pictured)
‘It is basically dye that tans you from the inside out.
‘Thanks to being completely natural, they are completely safe and beneficial for humans with lots of added vitamins and daily nutrition.
‘We get comments all the time that they have helped people’s skin clear up. They contain vitamin C to help promote collagen; copper for the maintenance of normal skin pigmentation, vitamin E to help protect the skin from oxidative stress; riboflavin, and all natural extracts.
‘Copper for the maintenance of normal skin pigmentation making these perfect for pre-sun; Vitamin E & Selenium to help protect the skin from oxidative stress; Zinc & Riboflavin for the maintenance of normal skin & Vitamin C to help with the formation of collagen in skin.
Rebecca often shows off the products herself, including in this snap from Barbados, where she cheekily ‘stole her mum’s swimsuit’ to pose for this picture
And the innovation and risk taking has worked.
‘We broke £1M turnover last year and with no formal employees, coming up with better innovations than big tanning brands with dedicated product development teams,’ Rebecca said.
‘We can operate on a lower margin because we are a lean team and don’t have huge overheads.
Keeping up with the latest trends, Rebecca’s latest project contains the latest health food supplement, CBD, and has been launched in collaboration with beauty blogger Jamie Genevieve.
Rebecca often shares glamorous pictures from around the world when she’s not working hard. One was this snap in the Blue Lagoon in Iceland
‘The idea for this product came the same way as others. I studied beauty trends and customer trends and it just clicked,’ she explained.
‘CBD is promoted as having extensive health benefits internally and externally, especially gentle on the skin; moisturising, nourishing and calming, so it made sense to combine it with self-tan.
‘We got a comment yesterday that it’s “cleared up” someone’s eczema, which is so exciting for us.’
And the tanning venture isn’t Rebecca’s first foray into the world of business, and she says she’s learned from her failures as much as her successes.
‘Innovating is one of my key strengths, but I had no idea how to channel that when I first started. My first innovation was a hands-free Velcro phone cover and I had no clue what I was doing.
Tanning venture isn’t Rebecca’s first foray into the world of business, and she says she’s learned from her failures as much as her successes
‘The big reorder arrived, and to cut a long story short the products had shrunk in transit. Expensive lesson and I lost all my savings, but it taught me invaluable lessons about failing forward and that nothing is ever a fail if you learn, grow and keep going.
‘There have been hundreds of setbacks and obstacles over the years. The key for me has been to remember that no situation lasts forever – good or bad, it is only temporary.
‘Sometimes all you can do is stay focused on your goals and take each day as it comes. I love the saying about the arrow – it must be pulled back further and further to the point of most tension, before it is released and flies forward at great speed.
‘That’s not to say there haven’t been moments when I’ve felt like throwing in the towel. There’s just something inside me that keeps me pushing forward, maybe it’s stubbornness, maybe it’s self-belief or a sense of unfinished business – who knows.’