It was 2009 when a mother-daughter duo from Ireland met with Wojciech Inglot in London to discuss bringing the Polish makeup brand here.
Less than a decade later, Inglot Ireland has just opened its 20th store across UK and Ireland; this one in London – where the family franchise all began.
When serial entrepreneur Geraldine Swarbrigg and her daughter Jane met with Wojciech initially, he agreed on a partnership and took a chance on “the family from that lovely country from the west of Europe in the depth of recession”.
“We told him that if he was a partner, we’d find him the stores”. And the first Inglot Ireland store was opened in Liffey Valley in 2009.
“The standalone store wasn’t an experience as yet in Ireland. The Inglot stores were very big and bold with lots of colour,” said Jane, who takes the helm as company director alongside brother Peter.
“What was different about Inglot was that the customer could come in and the salesperson would know exactly what they were looking for [make-up]. They’d get that overall customer experience”.
Adding to Geraldine’s experience as a seasoned retailer, makeup artist Jane recognised what that the products would resonate with the younger demographic while “keeping the cost reasonable and the quality high”.
The face of Inglot Cosmetics, Jane now hosts brand roadshows and events, while running a makeup blog which has become successful on social media in its own right.
Twelve months ago, the company broke into the international market with their first UK store in Newcastle, adding to the 15 makeup bars across Ireland, in addition to the online store.
Inglot Ireland’s expansion drive continued throughout the year, with a collaboration with reality tv show Love Island contestant Kaz Crossley helping the brand stay “relevant” with its target market.
“Our London store has only opened and it’s already proving a hit; we see it becoming the flagship UK store for us,” she told Independent.ie.
“As for expansion in Ireland, we’re looking at wholesale, working with pharmacies. We didn’t look at this initially but we want to see how we can grow as quickly as possible. It’s not possible for a shop every time because of the investment required.
“One thing with business, we have to be really open minded; the industry is changing and we need to constantly up our game”.
Jane believes that now the brand is so well established, it allows more freedom for experimentation with the business: “we’re not afraid of doing that; at least take a look and try it out”.
With online sales a significant portion on the company revenue, the two sites – UK and Ireland – will be monitored over the next year so that the merging of the two runs as seamlessly as possible.
Inglot Ireland has also upped the ante in terms of what makeup courses that it offers at its academy. The newly ITEC accredited makeup artistry courses are available on a full and part time basis in Dublin, Galway and in Cork from early 2019.
“It’s not as easy to be be unique anymore, to be ahead of the pack as there is a lot more competition out there these days. We are ten years in business next year; we have expanded so quickly but we have to continually be thinking outside of the box.”