Interview with Mark Constantine of Lush Cosmetics
Back. In nineteen ninety-five I was studying in London my sister. Karen. Came to visit me that year. She'd been to London before. So on her visit, she was the guide we traveled through the market stalls Candan lock we picked up some indie records at rough trade and made a special trip to covent garden to visit a newly open shop. Called Lush I hadn't heard of it but my sister had instructions from all friends back in L. A.. Get me stuff from. Lush. Now at the time, it was one of two lush locations in the world, and this is before e commerce. So unless you went to the store, you couldn't get the products. Remember the overpowering smell of roses and lavender and honey and lemon I remember these long loaves of colorful soap laid out on tables where you could slice off a Chonkin pay for it. By weight there were bath bombs and shampoos and lotions. It looked like the produce department at a fancy grocery store. You didn't see a whole lot of plastic packaging and in front of each product, you'd find a bright colorful chalkboard with a description. It was unlike any beauty product store I had ever seen. And it probably explains why then There was a line to get in. Lush was part of a new wave of beauty companies that came onto the scene around that time. Many of them influenced by the body shock and it's iconic founder Anita Roddick who as you will hear features prominently in this story is well. The main founder of Lush Mark Constantine had already seen incredible success and then catastrophic failure by the time he launched his venture. In fact, right before mark. Open Lush. He's lost most of his money on a mail order business that went bust. But. Lush turned his fortunes. And and today it's a brand with more than nine hundred stores around the world. Now, in recent months, the pandemic has hit the company hard. For time all of its stores in the UK, the US and Australia were closed. But. Lush has also seen a massive surge in online orders and later on, we'll get an update on how mark and the company have navigated the pandemic and the global economic fallout. But first a little bit about mark's background. He grew up in weymouth seaside town in the south of England. When he was only two years old his dad's split from the family and went off to Africa and mark never saw him again while he was growing up. And his mother. She took mark and moved in with her mother marks Grandma. It was me my mom, my grandmother who really brought me up a my aunt. So. I was really bored three. Yeah. What did your mom do? She was a journalist in the local newspaper on I knew my mom had to work in order for us to to be okay. It was very, very comfortable life full of love and hugs and security. My mom was always there and I love my nine I looked up to my nine and so it was comfortable. Very nice. Obey. Feminine Life I've felt. Spoilt To be honest, obviously, my nine drilled into me the proper values as well. with proverbs and all sorts of other things you know I I had to rights repeatedly better best never them rest till. My good is better. My better best things like that. But then I guess. Around the time you were twelve. So you like you stopped living with your grandmother like Yulia mom moved out. what happened was they there was larger a my mother married the lawyer we moved to my grandmother died. I didn't realize probably until much later in my life high much that'd affected me I felt responsible. I think from my grandmother's death for most of my life because obviously I was important to her and I wasn't there anymore and I couldn't after her and she died on then my my stepfather was. Very, cold I would say and violent. But that's very typical upbringing fifties because they'd come is war gentlemen. There was a lost friends some of them had seen that friends killed or relatives and So it was you know not surprising that those people were bringing up my generation went all the best balanced people in the world. What kind of I mean what kind of kid were you? What do you remember about how you responded to those circumstances? Did you I don't know retreat into yourself or did you act out? Did you fight with your mom? What do you remember or didn't fire my mom but I force a lot with my Stepdad physical fights and they would argue we would all argue. It was just I want to say unsatisfactory which doesn't side like this is like a strange word to use it but. Certainly when I came to build my own home I, for example, never locked the front door. You know I I make an effort on those smaller things that tell people that they wanted to. Careful. Kid were you at school? Are you could student? School was still difficult for. Really. Was it was just heart for you. I. Mean there were a lot of gangs. Gangs were normal in the fifties for for everyone there were lots of gang. So I went to the grammar school, which was the best school in. The top ten percents shoots went to the grammar school. Everyone's surprise when I got in. And then I wasted it while I. was there except that I did make friends and we were in particular gang where we could make. Bombs and things. Can. Make bombs. What we were the news like. PIPEBOMBS. They were we killing sugar bombs with batons permanganate. Glycerin Fuses also savings on we went making them for the IRA season, the Perron purposes to intimidate other gang.