10 QUESTIONS WITH ANNA & WILLIAM BRIGHTMAN, FOUNDERS OF UPCIRCLE BEAUTY
1.) Welcome to The London Musings! How long has UpCircle Beauty been around for?
WB: We had the initial idea around Christmas time in 2015. I had just been bought a cafetière for Christmas which was what got me thinking about the issue of coffee waste. We decided to combat it with a coffee-based skincare line which we then launched at the London Coffee Festival in April 2016.
AB: But until December 2018 we were known under a different brand name – Optiat. We unveiled our new name UpCircle only a couple of months ago. Although, it feels like a lot longer ago than that because we’ve been working on it behind the scenes for what seems like forever!
2.) What inspired you to start UpCircle Beauty?
WB: Back in 2015, we had a thought: if we’re throwing away a cafetière full of coffee grounds every morning, how much is going to waste from coffee shops all over London? A lot, as it turns out. So we decided to do something about it. We began calling up coffee shops asking if we could collect their used coffee grounds.
AB: Coffee is brilliant for your skin. It’s packed with antioxidants, it’s a great microbead-free exfoliator, the caffeine works wonders on issues like eczema and cellulite – it seemed like a no brainer that we would elevate these leftover coffee grounds into quality skincare products. When we sold out on day 1 of the London Coffee Festival we knew we were on to something!
3.) What were you both doing before entering into your entrepreneurial venture?
WB: I worked in finance.
AB: I worked as an area manager for a supermarket. Safe to say we both fancied a change!
4.) How do your individual skills complement each other to ensure the successful running of UpCircle Beauty?
AB: I think one of the main reasons our business works is because of how different we are - I don’t think either of us would have managed without the other! What William is good at, I am terrible at and vice versa. There’s no denying that working alongside a sibling is quite the experience – we’ve had our fair share of flare ups. It took us a little while to establish who would do what, but now I think we’ve nailed the balance! Dragons’ Den was the perfect example – there’s no way we would have walked out with such success if we had gone in without the other sibling!
5.) The world seems to be taking more of an interest in sustainability and caring more for our planet. Do you think you’ll continue to experiment with other natural ingredients?
WB: Absolutely, coffee was a great starting point for our brand, but we’ve got a lot more than just coffee in our sights! We’ve since released a range of soaps made from residual chai spices used to brew chai tea, the soaps came out just before Christmas and have done extremely well so far! We’re also working with hemp seed husks which are a by-product of hemp manufacture – so there’s lots going on!
AB: What’s great is that we now have businesses and individuals coming to us with their leftover natural ingredients asking if we can we cook up a circular skincare solution. We’re always ready to take on the challenge!
6.) Can you recommend any products that are particularly good for the winter season?
WB: I personally would recommend any of our coffee scrub range, we use a base of whipped up shea butter and coconut oil which is an intensely moisturising combo. So, whilst the coffee grounds buff away and dead and dry skin, the other ingredients leave the fresh skin beneath feeling hydrated – ready to face the elements!
AB: My winter skin saviour is our face serum. We cycle to work, so I put a healthy dose on my face every morning! The organic oil blend is packed with vitamins and antioxidants and always leaves my skin with a nice dewy glow.
7.) Your branding is beautiful - I love the font / colour palette. Who has the creative eye?
WB: Thank you! We agonise over the most minute decisions so it’s always wonderful to get good feedback! The branding is certainly a collaborative effort, we go through many rounds from initial ideas, to concept, to refinements, to final execution. However, I have to admit, Anna is certainly the more creative of the two of us. If we ever disagree on anything branding related, in the end I have always come around to her opinion – albeit reluctantly!
8.) Where can we purchase UpCircle Beauty?
AB: Due to the recent rebrand our existing stockists are in the process of selling through our old brand stock before we renew with the new lines. For this reason, for the first few months of this year your best bet is to go direct to our website. This way you can also make the most of all of our bundle offers! We will begin to re-list our stockists on our website and social channels over the next couple of months as the rebrand fully rolls out – so keep an eye out.
9.) When you’re not busy developing your brand, where can you be found?
AB: I do all of our events – like markets, festivals and panel appearances, so they keep my weekends fairly hectic. However, I’m a pro at ensuring that I never miss out on any social events in my personal life – always one of the last ones standing at the party, and I plan to keep it that way!
WB: I’m a bit of a football fanatic, so I enjoy a good footie match in my spare time! I also have my first baby due later this month so I’m sure my shift into parenthood will swallow up the vast majority of my time!! Help!
10.) What’s next for the brand?
WB: We’re are really focusing on broader distribution – we want to get our products into as many hands as possible.
AB: Our rebrand has really unified our look and feel, the products now all belong in a clear family – which means we can start to grow that family. My favourite part of this job is developing new products, so I’m keen to see what other circular skincare creations we can come up with!
Please click here for more inspiration and to shop on UpCircle Beauty’s website!