[INTERVIEW] Alessandra Metcalf of Swatch Perfect

The other night as I was lying in bed, I was thinking about just how many women I know who are hustling left, right and centre. Shrugging off the 9-5, these women are making their own way in the world, creating their own brands and businesses and taking the world by force.

It’d be easy for me to sit back and watch these women succeed, but that’s not who I am.

Who I am is a cheerleader – I help promote, encourage and support, and encourage others to do likewise. So, if I see you succeeding, I want to help you shout it from the rooftops, and will help coordinate the rooftop party to ensure everyone is watching whilst you do.

And if you’re only just starting out? I am there to offer you whatever support and encouragement I can to ensure success is in your future.

See, prior to moving to Glasgow, I was a life coach part-time, so helping people succeed was literally my job. I am so passionate about seeing people grow and evolve personally and professionally, I plan to continue doing this via my blog.

That’s why I thought a new monthly feature where I interview women who are creating their own paths in life would be a perfect fit for this blog.

These women are strong, intelligent and inspirational. They have not only discovered their passions and their strengths, but are turning them into a profitable reality.

If you are looking for inspiring women, look no further!

Plus, given it’s International Women’s Day today, what better day to launch an exciting new feature supporting amazing women?

This month I caught up with Alli, the founder of Swatch Perfect, the new beauty tool changing the game for beauty bloggers across the UK.

Noticing a lack of swatch stencils available in the UK, Alli saw her chance to leave a perfectly styled mark upon the beauty blogosphere, and so I thought it essential to find out more about her, her business, and her future goals.

Alessandra Metcalf of Swatch Perfect

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Hi Alli, thank you so much for taking the time out of your hectic schedule!

You’re most welcome – always happy to help a fellow blogger!

What inspired you to start your own business, specifically swatch stencils?

I’ve wanted to start my own business for as long as I can remember – at 14 I was selling individual glowsticks to my classmates for 20p (with a 70% profit margin!) and at 19 I started my own art commission business, creating custom papercut portraits of people who found me through social media. I was 24 when I started Swatch Perfect, and had been daydreaming about new business ideas for 2 years – one rainy afternoon I was browsing the web looking for swatch stencils for my own blog when I realised there was no-one selling them in all of Europe! Never one to shy away from a challenge, and realising this was a product I could afford to invest in within an industry I knew inside out, I set out to change that…

Do you design the stencils yourself? Where do you find the inspiration?

Everything at Swatch Perfect is designed and manufactured by me! Inspiration comes from a huge variety of places – patterns in nature, geometry, even my customers give me ideas. Sometimes I design stencils with specific palettes in mind, or sometimes I just create a themed collection I think people will find fun – like mermaids!

What is your motivation and the driving force behind SwatchPerfect?

The thing that keeps me going, although it may sound cheesy, is the feedback from my customers, and seeing all their wonderful photos. I’ve lost count of the amount of amazing bloggers who have told me the stencils make swatching easier, they’re happier with their swatch photos, or that they’re just more inspired to create great content!

Who would you say is your mentor or role model?

There are two inspirational women in my life – but neither are celebrities. Firstly is my mum, who has been a kick-ass career woman for as long as I can remember, and has brought me up to be ambitious and independent. She works a job she loves, and she’s good at it – she quadrupled the profits on the accounts she manages in under 2 years. As if that wasn’t enough, she also has a side hustle – and without her, I would never have had the guts to start my business. My second role model is my boss at my day job – I’ve never met someone more passionate, hardworking, humble and supportive. Since taking me on 2 years ago she’s taught me everything I know about marketing. She’s a fantastic mentor – both in work and life – I’m so grateful I’ve been lucky enough to have such a fantastic manager (and friend) just as I was starting out in my career.

Is this the first step in a beauty empire? What are your goals?

Yes! Short term, I want to keep growing Swatch Perfect, adding new designs to the line, helping more bloggers fall in love with swatching! Longer term, I’ve got ideas to diversify the product range into new areas (but I’m keeping that under wraps for now), and I have ideas for other businesses I want to launch too… Ultimately, I’d like to be able to quit my day job and work for myself full time – but I’ve got plans to get on the property ladder in the next year, so that will have to wait a bit longer!

What kind of response have you received from the beauty blogging community?

Honestly, the feedback has been overwhelmingly positive. You’ll never please everyone, but I couldn’t believe quite how many people have gotten behind the idea and are as passionate about the products as I am! Some bloggers really connect with the fact the brand was created by a fellow blogger – some just really want swatch stencils…!

How do you use negative feedback to ensure future successes?

I’m always keeping an eye out on social media for any negative feedback – social media is a huge part of my day job so I know how important social listening can be. I added a step-by-step guide to the site to help customers get the best finish from their stencils; I hand finish every single item to make sure they meet my quality control standards; and I’m always there to offer advice if people are struggling to use them. I must be doing a good job – I find the very small amount of negative feedback is from people who haven’t actually tried the products!

Would say your success is down to luck, being in the right place at the right time, or hard work, hustle and determination?

Finding the original product idea was a stroke of luck – but from then on, it was all hard work. I did everything – sourcing the raw materials, designing and manufacturing the products, building the website, creating the branding, shooting the product photography, running the social media accounts, coming up with new designs… I even pack and mail every order myself. I won’t pretend it isn’t hard work, because it is – I’ve poured 100’s of hours of my free time into this business – but luckily my skillset as a blogger and a marketer are perfectly matched to run it. I won’t lie though – sometimes when I’m packing orders at 10pm on a Tuesday night all I want to do is lie on the sofa and eat crisps!

What advice would you give to someone wanting to open their own online store?

Just go for it! You learn so much in such a short amount of time, and it’s so rewarding as you can see the direct return on every bit of work you do. It’s hard work and you need to be dedicated – get a mentor if you can, and learn a bit about marketing and web design before you start. You might think you know everything (I certainly did!) but before long you’ll be trying to set up Google Analytics or a Facebook Pixel or insert an API key, and realise you just read an entire paragraph where 90% of the words went straight over your head… Also, don’t be afraid to ask for advice, and learn to take constructive criticism – it’s almost never personal.

Finally, Instagram or Twitter?

That’s tough! For my brand, and for seeing reams of wonderfully creative photos, it has to be Instagram – I connect with tons of customers on there, and it’s so visual so it works perfectly for my products. But all that beautiful curated content can be intimidating sometimes – so for personal use, or just to zone out for a few minutes, I’m finding myself more likely to be scrolling through Twitter these days… It seems a lot less filtered and more real, and I love seeing what my blogger buds have gotten up to, or what random thought they had at 10.26am this morning!

Again, thank you for taking the time to answer these. You have a big future ahead of you in the beauty industry, and I can’t wait to watch your business grow from strength to strength!

Any time – thanks for asking for an interview, I feel like I’ve really made it to the big time! 😉