Emma Leighton is founder of Divine Makeup and mentor for Big Ideas Wales working with young people to develop their business skills.
Emma also works with young women on confidence and self-esteem.
Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role
Hi, I’m Emma, I’m 36 and founder of Divine Makeup based in Hawarden, near Chester, a business manager for Tropic Skincare and a beauty entrepreneur. The salon is based in a beautiful village setting and we specialise in wedding makeup, as well as the on trend beauty treatments like HD Brows, LVL Lashes, spray tans and the celebrity must have CACI facials!
Did you ever sit down and plan your career?
Probably not in the way you mean with a pen and paper at a table but I do think about it a lot. My head is always full of new ideas and when I have time, like sitting in the bath, that’s my opportunity to think things through and decide on my next move. Whilst working in the beauty industry, it was always my plan to set up my own salon once I had the experience and similarly now as I plan for my two new beauty brands, my working life will change once more.
Have you faced any challenges along the way? How did you deal with them?
Absolutely! For me, it was amassing the skills needed to run a business, no-one warns you just how many different skills you need, and then in finding the time to actually undertake the jobs that need doing. I reached a turning point once I was able to employ staff in the salon and this has given me valuable time to be creative again and pour this energy into new projects.
Do you have a typical workday? How does you start your day and how does it end?
I have a partner and a little boy so my day starts pretty much the same as every other working mother with lots of rushing about and a dash to school! I try as much as possible now to leave work at work, so first thing is all about admin and emails, then it’s catching up with the team and planning for my new projects. I’m lucky that I have a very supportive network around me, but I will always aim to be home by dinner time so we can eat as a family.
How do you feel about mentoring? Have you ever had a mentor or do you mentor anyone?
It’s really important. I’m a mentor for Big Ideas Wales, part of Business Wales who support people wanting to set up their own businesses. My focus though is on helping young people develop their business skills because I know just how important these skills are, not just on a practical level but in terms of giving them confidence to move forward. As a mentor I offer advice for students studying for the Welsh Baccalaureate, they get to present their business ideas and receive feedback and support from us as ‘judges’. It’s a really rewarding process, and I only wish I’d had this kind of support when I was younger.
If you could change one thing for women in the workplace, what would it be?
It would be confidence, confidence in themselves and in their abilities. I think it’s actually pretty hard to be a young woman in the 21st century with the constant pressure to look good, and when I work with young women I want to help instill the kind of confidence that will help them to successfully navigate the workplace. I always tell them that makeup is there to enhance, and the first thing people should notice about them isn’t their makeup but their confidence.
What has been your biggest achievement to date?
One of my proudest moment was going back to my old high school as a mentor. The students had to come up with a business idea that would raise money for their chosen charity, and I had the pleasure of choosing the winning team. A charity that is close to my heart is The British Skin Foundation who work for awareness and fundraising into skin cancer research. When I launch one of my new products, an airbrush contour tan, I will be pledging 5% of profits to the charity and I know that will feel very special too.
What are you hoping to achieve in the future?
As usual, I have many things planned! The salon is introducing semi-permanent makeup and has had a big revamp to coincide with its fifth birthday on the 11 November. But on a larger scaler, it’s to introduce my new contouring brand to salons around the UK, and as a consumer brand. I also have my own range of mink lashes coming out, and I want to do much more mentoring and working with young people taking their first steps in business. That is where I really see myself!