Following on from Monday's post I'm excited to introduce my first mover and shaker!
Venetia Archer founded RUUBY, an app she describes as 'London’s digital beauty concierge, offering five-star services directly to your door.' Here we step into her fast-paced world running a London start-up, the value of having a strong team around her and the other apps and beauty products she can't live without.
What inspired you to start Ruuby? Do you come from a tech or beauty background?
I come from neither. I was inspired to begin Ruuby after spotting a gap in the market for a beauty platform like this. I began work on Ruuby in 2014 and we officially went live in 2015. This was a time when Uber and Deliveroo had just hit London and I thought a similar service for much-needed beauty appointments would be a saviour for many Londoners.
What’s your typical 9-5?
It varies hugely. I am trying to compartmentalise my week better so that I have external meetings on certain days, and can block out full days in the office to get on with work. My days usually start with a review of the previous days figures... I have an app on my phone that shows me how many bookings we have and I’m constantly checking it. Then, it’s a mixture of talking to investors and other stakeholders and managing new products within the team. At the moment we are super growth-oriented and so a lot of my day is spent analysing our different marketing channels and seeing how those might be optimised. If I need a break from the heavy stuff, I distract myself with Ruuby Instagram and ordering stuff like Ruuby branding pencils or T-shirts...
'The emotional highs and lows are tiring but they are what excite me'
Starting a business in London is no mean feat – how have you found the process?
It’s a lot more dynamic than I ever knew and even in my small time as a business owner I’ve been fascinated to learn how quickly market forces adapt and shift. That has been exciting and I love building Ruuby’s relevance and commercial viability. Starting the business was hard and each day brings a new struggle, but also a new success. The emotional highs and lows can be tiring, but they are what excite me.
How do you stay on top of an ever-changing tech landscape?
I really rely on my CTO, who is incredibly switched on, and we discuss all of our options at great length. It’s a collaborative process and one that requires constant engagement with other developers and tech communities.
What products do you use on a daily basis, both skincare and makeup?
I absolutely love IS Clinical cleanser and Erborian tinted moisturiser. I then add an IS Clinical serum overnight, which is miraculous. The impact in the skin is immediate. Eyeko is my favourite eyeliner, and I am partial to a Kevyn Aucoin lipliner too...
C A R E E R A D V I C E
How has experience from previous jobs contributed to Ruuby?
My first role was in investigative research. I used to be given really wild tasks that might have seemed impossible to answer. I cultivated a can do approach and I think that sheer confidence that anything is possible has really helped me aggressively push and work on the Ruuby concept, which at times has proved rather challenging too.
What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given / advice you would give to entrepreneurs starting out?
Listen to your consumers. Requirements constantly change and your clients really do evolve. We launched Ruuby with a focus on high-end salon appointments and the on-demand piece was just an add on. I personally wasn't convinced. After about a year, the numbers proved that the opportunity really lay in servicing clients at home and we have since truly embraced this focus. We had to slowly rebuild our technical infrastructure to support this side, but it's been absolutely worth it.
Where do you look for inspiration?
I look at other innovative, modern brands. I love to see how other businesses are changing that consumer-business relationship. I hate the impersonal aspect of large, established companies, and I’m excited by the challenge of reworking that.
What are your tips for staying motivated?
Surround yourself with positive, hard-working, inspiring people. The road can be lonely, and it’s important to protect against this. I love speaking with other business owners and understanding their approaches to problems I might be facing. There’s never one right way and that’s motivating in itself.
Running your own business can be relentless. How do you switch off?
To that... I don’t know the answer! Exercise is good – it’s an hour where you simply can’t think about work, so it’s enforced. Stage 2: meditation.
'The road can be lonely... surround yourself with positive, hard-working, inspiring people'
Q U I C K F I R E R O U N D
Beauty product you never leave the house without?
By Terry Baume de Rose.
Fire and Ice facial at Dr Preema.
Last person you called?
My financial advisor.
Lark or night owl?
Lark! I get up at 6.30.
Non-fiction business books.
I take Uber everywhere. It’s not ok.
Other go-to apps?
Planoly for Instagram and Slack for talking to my team.
Huge thank you to Venetia for taking time to be interviewed for my blog and sharing her wisdom.
Images supplied by Venetia and sourced via Pinterest.
Sparked by various events towards the end of last year, I've decided to kick off a series of interviews with some of the many inspiring individuals I'm lucky enough to know and continue to meet thanks to my job. Inspiration for this struck in a number of places: listening to a panel of movers and shakers from all walks of life at the launch of Bumble Bizz (dating app Bumble's answer to LinkedIn); binge-listening to the How I Built This podcasts; and attending an out-a-my-comfort-zone nutrition seminar on gut health and its relationship to mood hosted by The Rooted Project – a large portion of which was very science-heavy and well and truly over my head but nevertheless awoke parts of my mind that had in all likelihood been asleep since school.
Listening to the How I Built This podcasts in particular, where top level CEOs of companies such as Airbnb, Instagram, Whole Foods and Virgin are interviewed on their career start-up stories, it occurred to me how many of them had experienced multiple unsuccessful businesses before finding the one that stuck. This have-a-go attitude is something that really ignited something in me, highlighting it's rarely a linear path to success and failure is not something to be feared, rather an exciting learning curve. It would be way worse to always wonder 'what if'. Don't overthink it.
So, after a few months scribbling ideas, scrawling spider diagrams and chatting it over with friends, I'm hoping to shed light on a few new career stories in a bid to celebrate those who are bravely carving exciting paths and ask them to share their nuggets of wisdom. Stepping into other worlds feeds curiosity like nothing else and I hope this inspires those who are thinking about giving something new a go – whether that be taking a leap of faith on a start-up, testing the waters in a new industry or plucking up the courage to apply for a job at your current company.
You don't need to know where you'll be in five years, you can always adapt as you go and perhaps most importantly of all it's about recognising the bigger picture – we are so small in all of this and having a go, whether it goes to plan or not, is always admirable. When I first got into the copywriting game my dad, also a copywriter, taught me a favourite Hemingway quote of his: 'The first draft of anything is shit.' You have to start somewhere.
The first interview will be live in the next few days so watch this space.
In case the Elly are not what you're looking for but you're still after some distressed denim, I've linked below a selection of ready-made frayed hem alternatives, as well as a few you can take the scissors to yourself to do your worst.
Try the jeans on with various pairs of sneakers and boots before you actually take the plunge – take it from me, it's so frustrating when you wreck a pair through impatience. Go gradually – you can always cut more off but can't stick it back on!
A saviour for skiing and, as it turns out, for the British winter too. I feel the cold so these have become go-to staples on a daily basis. I adore the SB retro print and the navy Uniqlo top from the Heat Tech Extra collection, features a not-too-high neck and is very good value for money. Both are linked in the title.
These stylish little bowls are currently earning their keep as house plant pots (which you'll see I haven't quite finished planting properly in the pic below). I've just spotted they are sold out on the website but I've linked through to other gorgeous options on the La Redoute site that I'm now eyeing up to add to my alternative plant pot collection.
The nothing-wrong-with-it style means it slots effortlessly into any outfit and it'll probably be useful for every month of the year. I have another one in this same grey that has huge holes in the elbows that I haven't been able to bring myself to let go of I love it so much. But now this guy's on the scene I think I'm out of excuses...
I've always had a bit of a thing about eye makeup remover – the idea of scrubbing away at the delicate skin with something that isn't really doing the job stresses me out. Aesop's version is a welcome addition to my evening cleansing regime.
Along with the grey cashmere jumper, these fall into the nothing-wrong-with-them category – crucial for nailing down high quality wardrobe essentials and streamlining. I love the subtle strip on the fabric section and the slightly higher than usual ankle-grazing top.
As a city-dweller living through January this was a welcome Christmas present. And it works miracles clearing pores and getting rid of impurities – I definitely noticed my skin had changed from slightly grey to slightly glowy after using.
Forget breton tops, and even clichéd Adidas and Kappa throwback trackies; my new fav find means I'm wearing my stripes down my arm these days. While I'm thankful for a mood-lifting statement top, the real heroes of winter are currently my go-to Chelsea boots by Hudson and an Aspinal chain-strap bag – the latter of which, once slung over a shoulder, has the capability to elevate every outfit and has become a real secret weapon for smartening up.
It would be unrealistic to assume this alone is warm enough in January. Scroll down to see the forest-green faux fur I was swathed in the entire day other than the 25 seconds spent capturing the stripe top. (Nice quick work from Julia of Stylonylon – hugely appreciated from someone whose permanently cold. I've been walking around home with a hot water bottle in the bib of my dungarees.)
Also, pretty weird that we were hanging around/shooting in front of a Barber. No explanation other than we didn't venture far from the front door of Kettner's Townhouse – which has recently been welcomed into the Soho House family – where we, very spoilingly, had just enjoyed an indulgent, two-hour breakfast which included blueberry and banana pancakes, fresh juices and LOBSTER ROYALE no less. Get yourself down there for a January treat!
One of the easiest ways to fend of winter wardrobe fatigue and the monotonous neutrals-on-repeat recipe is to chuck in a splash of colour. Nothing major – just a mood-lifter. And currently the sartorial style itch I'm looking to scratch is a yearning for yellow. The gravitational (/desperate) pull towards the sunshine shade is probably no surprise since the real deal has failed to make an appearance as of late. But that's to be expected in January in London.
I'm also not immune to the lure of a killer pair of culottes, not least an oversized exaggerated tailored version like these. Though balance is key and trousers this roomy are begging to be elevated and with a heel. Thank you to my lovely pal and fellow blogger Julia of Stylonylon for shooting this look for me.
In the wake of a dizzyingly busy December backing onto two family Christmases and followed by a week on the Méribel slopes with a 25-strong group (après allows for no sleep) it’s no understatement that my body has been craving a long yearned-for switch off. So much so that this weekend we returned from skiing and I slept for close to 36 hours straight; only, as Olly put it, waking up for food. I’ve never found it easy to sleep in the day but this was a real case of time to listen to your body.
Now in our first week back in London it’s failed to get warm/light enough to not rely on cranking up the heating every other hour and switching all the lights on at midday. Once the fifth load of post-holiday washing was away and our home started to not resemble a laundrette any longer, instead of knuckling down to the emails I decided to rearrange all the furniture in my office. Needless to say I've been struggling to get into the groove of a normal pace of life in the aftermath.
It’s not lost on me that this is a familiar tale come January. Tiredness kicks in, purse-strings are tightened and subsequently inspiration and general life enthusiasm wanes.
I recently saw a brilliant cartoon of a woman made haggard by her unachievable goal list: attempting to excel at work, maintain a social life, drink enough water, exercise, text everyone back, stay sane and be happy. Instead of beating myself up about not fulfilling my full potential each day I intend to take January for what it is and reap the benefits of a cosier, quieter time: lots of reading (anything and everything), boxsetting and home-making. Of course the satisfaction of achieving something is fundamental to happiness too and so I'm also hosting the occasional low-key dinner party to try and up my non-existent cooking skills. Oh and I got a keyboard for Christmas – how lovely to receive a toy again after so many years AND it was the biggest present under the tree – and am hoping to re-teach myself something from my former piano-playing years.
When lack of inspiration strikes, it’s hard to remember the simplest of places to look for that pick-me-up. Below are a few of mine:
Sometimes a timeout and removing your mind from a situation is the perfect remedy for clearing headspace. Returning to your desk a few hours later could tell a whole new story.
Take a walk
To somewhere you don’t go everyday or you’ll quickly shift to autopilot. I find hearing and seeing different things can often be enough to unlock the mind and I end up writing endless notes in my phone as I stroll.
I’m currently loving How I Built This with Guy Raz. The Air b n b, Kate Spade, Virgin and Bumble episodes in particular had me hooked. I'm always keen to hear other recommendations too so do let me know in the comments section below.
There’s a reason I worked in mags for five years and going back to basics and leafing through the pages on the newest Vogue can be a thought provoker and a therapeutic treat.
We’re lucky to have a wealth of inspiration right at our fingertips. Both Pinterest and Instagram are brimming with ideas. A lot has been written about the negative impact social platforms can have on mental health and it’s key to remember these images are a highlights reel of real life, a split second in time. But if you put the FOMO aside and use these covetable clothes, places and events as a driver to go out and get those things yourself the story could be very different. It could be as simple as running yourself an Instagram-worthy bubble bath lined with candles and settling down with your book or iPad.
And as a side note: Be good to yourself
I've got some friends who are great at this and some who aren't so good. Instead of depriving yourself of alcohol, treats and general great stuff you enjoy over the festive season and summertime, January should be a time to treat yourself even better than usual to help keep moral in tact. I’ve smugly saved up a Cowshed voucher from my birthday in June and can’t wait to check in for some decadent no-reason-for-it pampering.
I recently read a New Year mantra of fellow blogger Monica Beatrice – she aims to follow a simple framework of Health, Home and Hustle, in that order. This really rang true with me. Laying the foundations is fundamental to giving yourself a chance of avoiding burnout. An important message to newbies looking to get a foot on the career ladder too – I’d love to rewind and tell this to my 21 year old self.
Last week I had a run in with a dry ski slope and came off worst (read: carpet burn to the face and a ski cutting my shin). Aforementioned tumble was around an hour before I was scheduled to shoot this project with Monica Vinader – shout out to Dior Skin Star for successfully but not entirely painlessly helping to conceal the hundreds of little scratches along the side of my face.
So, clumsy mishaps aside, this is the time of year to sparkle and shine and when Monica Vinader got in touch to ask me to pull together an edit of pieces I’d put under the tree for a loved one, I couldn’t have been happier to oblige. The jeweller’s trademark simple and delicate but distinctive designs need no introduction; during my Vogue House days it was a firm favourite and we’d flock to samples sales like magpies. Anything we got our mitts on back then are still treasured possessions today: bracelets, rings and pendants that I’ve come to feel naked without.
And honestly I think it’s better today than I’ve ever seen it before. I’m powerless before the hammered rose-gold pendants, the thin stacking rings and – at the higher end of the spectrum – the diamond ear climbers, plus of course the signature fine chain and friendship bracelets built around gemstones like agate and quartz (though it’s the amazonite and black onyx in particular that have stolen my heart). Needless to say it’s all right on the money.
And the sentimental streak in me adores the fact the brand’s roots stem from Holkham on the North Norfolk coast. It’s an area I’ve been visiting for years and years: a special corner of the country I hold close to my heart and our true happy place.
Two collections in particular have me hooked. Anything that draws inspiration from the sea is speaking my language. The Nura collections delivers shapes derived from sea-tumbled pebbles, reef fragments and high-polished shells and nuggets; pieces from Nura I’ve shot include the rose-gold teardrop earrings I’m wearing with the beret, the rose-gold Reef pendant and bracelet and the decadent ear climbers I mentioned earlier. Secondly, the geometric Art Deco-inspired Baja collection is where I’d look to for my gemstone fix – pictured here are the amazonite bar bracelet, black onyx deco bracelet and labradorite bangle.
If that’s not enough to convince you, here are 3 key reasons to love Monica Vinader:
1) It’s all about the personal touch – pop into the shop with your favourite piece and they will engrave it for you
2) The beautiful designs don’t break the bank
3) You can wear the pieces with everything from tomboy denim to black tie
For Christmas deliveries, the team at Monica Vinader are still taking orders up until 3pm tomorrow (21st December) – a blessing for last-minute shoppers and a surefire way to be proud of the presents you give (which let's face it is the most exciting bit). Package up some of that sparkle and shine to send with someone into the new year.
The unwritten rules of Christmas dictate anything festive should be resisted until 1st December. If you follow me on Instagram you might have spotted I’ve provided little resistance to being swept up in the silly season and have instead embraced all things festive with wild abandon. In my defence, crunching around a snow-covered townhouse, making Christmas jumpers to a Bublé soundtrack and merrily crafting my front-door wreath whilst drinking marshmallow-strewn hot chocolates just weren’t opportunities I wanted to pass up.
But now, ’tis the season! And in keeping with my uncontrollable urge to embrace yuletide festivities in all their glory I’ll be rolling out a series of Christmas-themed posts over the next couple of weeks. Since Olly and I got married last year, this is my first Christmas away from home. And my new family won’t just be welcoming me into their festive fold, as I of course come with a furry four-legged friend in tow wherever I go. So this year I’ll be calling on home comforts for both me and Luna. Without further ado I give you my pooch prep...
We’ll be on the road a bit but luckily Luna likes the car. Her bed doubles up as the world’s comfiest booster on the backseat of our Mini and, coupled with hearing mine and Olly’s voices in such close proximity for the entire journey, I’m pretty sure she considers this a pretty dreamy set up. We always make sure we have lots of water on board, which brings me onto my next worth-its-weight-in-gold tip…
3 THE COLLAPSABLE RUBBER BOWL
These are flatpack little lifesavers that mean gone are the days of offering water from the palm of your hand as it dribbles onto the car seats. And talking of keeping seats clean…
4 THE TOWEL
I imagine there’s no faster way to fall out with your in-laws than your filthy pup perkily making a
bee-line for their spotless cream sofa. Having a dog towel to hand throughout winter to keep
muddy paws at bay is key.
5 THE BLANKET
When we're out and about – anywhere from a restaurant or pub to someone's house – Luna finds it hard to know where to settle without an ‘X to mark the spot’. Yet as soon as I lay something on the floor, voila she’s sitting on it. Previous trips have involved coats/jumpers/scarves acting in place of the forgotten blanket, so it’s well worth remembering it so we don’t end up cleaning dusty pub floors with our Christmas cashmere. Boredom can often strike in the pub which means keeping her busy with things like…
6 THE CHEWS
I have two vets in the family who continually stress the importance of teeth brushing. Killing two birds with one stone, DentaStix help reduce plaque plus Luna’s little face lights up when they’re produced from their rustley packet. Whilst they're great, the award for the mother of all treats has to go to…
7 THE MORALE BOOSTER
Two words. Gravy. Bones. Over the years, our dogs have all been able to hear the snap of a gravy bone from an impressive distance. They work wonders for training, rewarding and helping Luna settle into a new place. We'd have a pretty disgruntled schnauzer on our hands if we left these behind.
8 THE TREASURED TOYS
Along with her comfort blankets, Luna’s got an embarrassingly large toy box at home. We’ll most likely have a squeaky chipmunk, a tennis ball and a gopping pink fleecey bone accompany us throughout Christmas.
9 THE ROUTINE
They're little creatures of habit after all. Seasonal chaos equates to doing weird things at weird times of day/night, but even if it’s only making sure she eats at the same time and gets her usual run around (we do 2.5 miles daily) she’ll be happy. Plus it can definitely work to your advantage since…
10 THE TACTICS
I once read somewhere that a tired dog is a well-behaved dog. Whenever I was freelancing at Vogue House when Luna was a puppy, I’d take her around Green Park pre work and again at lunchtime: a failsafe way of making sure she’d crash out under my desk when work needed to be done. Except that time she escaped to the next door office to see if anyone at Condé Nast Traveller fancied a game…
11 THE COLLAR
Due to an irrepressible desire to chase squirrels/rabbits/just about anything that looks like it might be fun, I’ll be attaching details of our temporary abode to Luna’s collar, plus multiple mobile numbers. Neurotic dog-mother right here.
12 THE PRESENTS
Her stocking is already hanging above our fireplace. This is an example of losing your marbles because an animal has got under your skin. They do that. ❤️
I'd love to hear about any tips you and your faithful hound swear by. Do leave them in the comments section below.
Hattie & Luna X
This post is in collaboration with Pedigree. All opinions are my own.
Sidetone: with two vets in the family, I'm hearing the importance of brushing your dog's teeth more and more. It's a New Year's resolution for us. For tips and advice on getting your dog used to dental care, see here.
Sartorial safe space for December includes lashings of velvet with a smattering of sequins, metallic accents and glitter. Faux fur in all the colours of the rainbow (hello teddy coats everywhere) are also welcomed to the fold, plus this year's fresh spin on classic heritage is being revamped for daytime to downtime to party-time.
Though clearly there's nothing like a trip to the country to stimulate that impulse for heritage fabrics. Cue this long Prince of Wales check blazer and further down, risking the frostbite to trial tartan. (PS The Palladiums have been getting a major workout since here.)