Too often, the best beauty stories go Untold, solely based on a person's skin colour, religion, gender expression, disability, or socioeconomic status. Here, we're passing the mic to some of the most ambitious and talented voices in the industry so they can share, in their own words, the remarkable story of how they came to be — and how they're using beauty to change the world for the better. Up next: Roshanne Dorsett, who went from human rights lawyer to cosmetic formulator, solo entrepreneur, and founder of beauty brand The Glowcery.
I suppose I was an entrepreneur before I knew what the word entrepreneur meant.
But going back a little before starting my business, after graduating law and criminology at uni, I was hell-bent on becoming an international human rights lawyer. I did two years of internships, including a few months at a human rights charity. Looking back on it now, my time spent as an intern at a law firm was a full-time job, but I was only getting my expenses paid. It was full on, and I was handling my own case loads under the supervision of an incredible legal consultant.
Then, I got a paid job doing the same role, in an East London law firm. I was working on criminal and public law cases, including joint-enterprise murders, and it was heavy, emotionally difficult stuff. I remember going home to my mum and sister being like, "I don't know how I'm doing this," casually talking about how many dead bodies I'd seen in case files or trying to soothe a mum because she was unable to come to terms with the fact that her teenage son had been locked away for a murder he didn't commit. I was always exhausted from the long journey into the city every day. Constantly having to deal with those emotions was intense. On top of that, I wasn't able to save any money, and I know it's not about the money but it's the reality, and I just wasn't happy. I wasn't able to make time for myself due to the travelling, and I wasn't even able to spend money on things outside of work. I remember coming home one day, I just burst into tears and I said to my mum: "I can't do this." Something had to give and it was that job, unfortunately.
Every day I'm grateful that I found the diploma course because it really did propel me into thinking I'm good at this and I can do this.
During the last few years, I started working on myself as a continual effort to learn more about who I am, what I like, what I dislike, and my personality traits — I now know that I'm an empath, so it makes sense why I found it so difficult to switch off and detach from the heightened emotions that came with the job.
When I made the decision to hand in my notice, I didn't know what I wanted to do next, I just knew I didn't want to do law anymore. So, I reached out to one of my friends who had worked in Ibiza who told me how much money to save up, how to apply for workers accommodation, and how to prepare to get a job — that's exactly what I did. I said to my mum: "I'm going to work in Ibiza for the summer," and I remember she looked at me like, "my daughter was on her track to be a lawyer and now she's going to work in a bar in Ibiza."
During my notice period at the law firm, I was doing loads of side jobs on the weekend to save up extra money. I was a promo girl, sold designer perfume in a department store, and sold clothes on eBay. Coupled with working my full-time job, I'd saved up enough money and packed my suitcase in May and left for Ibiza.
In Ibiza, I was doing PR and waitressing in a bar until October, and it was the best experience of my life. It also made me realise that there was more to life than the 9-5 rat race in London; Ibiza had a lot of freedom. That's when I started thinking about how to take more control over my life and in that moment. I knew I had to put steps in place to start my own beauty business.
I started researching how to make natural skin-care formulations to make my own natural skin-care products because I was constantly experiencing allergic reactions to some of the well-known brands out there. It was in the early era when people were starting to create blogs, especially DIY blogs, and I came across a blog about how to make lip balm at home using three ingredients: coconut oil, beeswax, and lemon essential oil. I started experimenting with ingredients by making body scrubs, natural toothpaste, body butters, and face oils.
It was actually my sister (aka my product tester) who encouraged me to turn my passion into a business, but I knew that at the time, my skills weren't up to scratch and I didn't have the scientific or cosmetic knowledge as a foundation. If I was going to sell products or create a beauty brand, I knew I needed to do an accredited formulation course, so that's what I did. After returning from Ibiza in 2017, I had saved up enough money to enroll in a skin-care course. I studied The International Organic Skincare Entrepreneur Program by Formula Botanica.
The courses taught me everything I needed to know about how to make facial oil, serums, body butter — a whole range of products — both scientifically and safely. On top of learning everything I needed to know about advanced cosmetic formulation, it also taught me how to build a beauty brand. Every day I'm grateful that I found the diploma course because it really did propel me into thinking I'm good at this and I can do this.
Off the back of that, I started my brand Cocolem. The name came because the main ingredients I used in the lip balms were coconut oil and lemon oil. I worked on everything: labels, logos, website, and getting the name trademarked. Two weeks before launching the website, I received a cease and desist letter from Chanel because the brand had trademarked "coco." I honestly thought I was being punked at first because in no way did I ever think there was a similarity between their brand and mine. In the end, I had to forfeit the name. I was gutted at the time because of all the money I had bootstrapped to put into Cocolem, all of the effort I had put in over the five years to get the business to that stage; it had built up to nothing.
It took me a month or so just to get my head around it all. Deep down I knew I wanted to own a beauty brand, and so I had to compartmentalise the Chanel situation and move on. Looking back on it now, it was a blessing in disguise as it forced me to adapt and rethink. I began annoying my mum and sister by coming up with lots of new business names and asking for their opinions every single day. At the time, I didn't know what it would be called, I just knew the name had to have 'glow' in it somewhere because it reminded me of what healthy skin looks like.
Where I live, there's an area with fruit and veg stalls outside shops and I think it was divine intervention because I remember seeing a sign that said 'Green Grocery' and it suddenly came to me: The Glowcery — I knew it was the one. I remember telling my sister, "What do you think about The Glowcery?" And I think she was just so worn out from the weeks that I just batted brand names at her, that she was like, "Yeah it's okay." And I was just like, "Okay? This is the one, honey. You better get used to it because this is what we're rolling with." I had the name and logo trademarked and I remember feeling so excited — it was mine.
At this point, I was working on The Glowcery and had left my job in a bar and entered the world of Amazon, working in the bookmaking department (printing out the cover, cutting the books, and then binding them). I was working 7.30am until 6pm and noticed that my skin was breaking out a lot. My skin looked dull and felt greasy and dirty from the aircon, paper dust everywhere, and a lack of natural sunlight. That's how I got the idea for Clean Greens Superfood Serum.
Whilst working at Amazon, in the evenings and on my days off, I would research different skin benefits of different plant, fruit, vegetable, and nut oils. From that research, coupled with my now plant-based lifestyle, I came up with the idea of creating a skin-care diet. A range of superfood products that feed the skin all the vitamins, minerals, and nutrients it needs to look and feel healthy, whilst also protecting the health of the planet. It was a lot of trial and error; a total of 27 attempts to get Clean Greens just right. From that, I made our long-lasting, moisturising Sweet Orange lip balm and our invigorating Coconut Crumble lip scrub.
It's definitely all about trusting the process and that people and things that were meant for me will be brought into my life.
I was fired from Amazon a few days before Christmas 2019, and I launched The Glowcery three months after on 11 March 2020 — a couple of weeks before the UK went into lockdown. The journey so far has been a bit of a whirlwind; I cannot believe I have a 1-year-old business, plus hundreds of people who love and support me and The Glowcery. At the moment, I'm working on some new products that are also powered by plants and I've got The Glowcery's first lifestyle product launching soon, which is very exciting.
Being a sustainable brand was really important to me; it just made sense. Why would I create a natural skin-care brand that then doesn't contribute to the maintenance of the planet and Mother Earth, where I get my ingredients? The Glowcery is a small brand that is steadily building up to bigger sustainability initiatives, but we use as many eco-friendly materials as possible and our suppliers are ethical, cruelty-free, and fairtrade — one of our suppliers sources its shea and cocoa butter from a women's cooperative in Ghana.
With The Glowcery, I really have found my purpose, which is to create products and to be of service to others. This journey is definitely all about trusting the process and knowing that people and things that were meant for me will be brought into my life when the time is right. This is a mantra I encourage myself to live by, especially being a solo entrepreneur because I do second guess myself and suffer from a bit of imposter syndrome sometimes.
We have the most amazing community and I am truly grateful to every person who, in their own way, has shown love and support by liking a post on social media, shopping with us, and recommending to a friend; all of it means a lot to me. Clean Greens won the Women's Health beauty award for best facial oil of 2020 and Sweet Orange got shortlisted for best lip product by Sunday Times Style beauty awards; it's really humbling and it's really incredible to know that it's not just me who thinks our superfood products are great.