My name is Jo, I’m 30 & from Beautiful by Breakfast – a company dedicated to helping others learn how to love their skin. Skincare reviews, Skincare Consultations, Non-Profit Acne Journal. I have thirteen years of experience in the beauty industry. My latest role working as Spa & Retail Manager for Sir Richard Branson‘s private island home. Working in the industry I find it easier to navigate through the overcrowded market to find authentic, high performing skincare and share this with my followers. I raise awareness of the psychological impact of skin conditions, representing real skin in an ever-expanding filtered world.
We love your motto: “This is your LYS (Love Your Skin) reminder, you have pores, not flaws!”
Before we go on, for the skeptics out there, can you tell us in a nutshell what you can do for those who hate themselves or their skin?
Everyone has some kind of insecurity – that’s what I’ve learned since being so open about my own. And no matter how small that insecurity is, it can hold you back, preventing you from socialising with your friends, applying for a new job or forming new relationships. We are our harshest critics and it takes a lot of work to reverse that mentality – to speak kindly to ourselves. I created the LYS reminder because I was very aware of how much people need a reality check when using social media. We compare ourselves to unrealistic beauty standards, scrutinising our pores because they don’t look like the filtered, airbrushed images we are exposed to on a daily basis. We’ve forgotten what REAL skin is.
Why the name: Beautiful By Breakfast (er…can we all have a bit of that magic please?!)
It’s funny you should say that because it started out as a bit of a wish! “Please make me beautiful by breakfast!” After what felt like a million failed attempts at trying to clear my acne, I went through a phase of just wishing it would be gone by the morning! In the end, I felt like this name best described my history with acne – waking up early every day to conceal my skin before anyone could see me. Now Beautiful by Breakfast is home to REAL skin, redefining beauty one selfie at a time.
You refer to others as “cysters” C-Y-S-T-E-R-S (sisters) can you tell us a bit more about that & might the chaps feel left out?! (men having acne too and all that!)
I love that you’ve asked this! Firstly I should say straight away that I want to help everyone learn how to love their skin – no matter what gender they are. “Cysters” is a play on the words cyst and sisters. My purpose was to create a name for the people of the acne community. I’ve found using the word “cyster” has connected me with my followers and them to each other- a cysterhood! To me the word “cyster” creates a sense of family, feeling represented, and for once not feeling so alone. In terms of equality, I think as a society we are positively moving away from words belonging to a particular gender. And anyway, women have been addressed as ‘guys’ for years…
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As per your website: “my blog is home to my thoughts and experiences during a fifteen-year struggle with acne” has this inspired the whole journey and at it’s worst, can you share a little with us about your story?
Initially, the purpose of the blog was to document my mission to clear my skin. For the first time since I developed acne, I took back control and stopped waiting for my skin to get better. I was approaching thirty which as it turned out was all the motivation I needed! I refused to enter another decade with acne! I had tried conventional acne treatments with no success. And my gut was telling me to write a food journal. For some reason, I was convinced I had a food allergy. It didn’t take long for me to start identifying patterns between my breakouts and certain foods. Suddenly everything seemed so obvious. Why had I not tried to find out the cause of my breakouts before? And why don’t medical professionals encourage their patients to do this? Surely this is the most effective way of treating acne? At the root? A few months later I had a food allergy test which confirmed I had an array of different food intolerances. I had two options: cut everything out of my diet or carry out the painstaking process of eliminating each one individually. I decided that long-term it would be harder to commit to a life without eating so many different things, so I decided to go with the latter. Alongside this progress, I was also challenging myself not to conceal my acne. I realised that my psychological scars were responsible for why I hadn’t tried this approach to clearing my skin sooner.
Through social media, I connected with others who felt the same way as I used to. Trapped. It was there that I found my purpose. By the time I found out which of my allergies was causing me to break out, it wasn’t as life-changing as I thought it would be. And although I was proud of my progress, clearing my skin didn’t drive me anymore. I realised the most life-changing thing about the whole process had been my shift in perspective. Naturally, my blog evolved and that’s when I decided I wanted to give something back to the community in the form of a journal.
You’ve written a non-profit journal “Love Your Skin” which people can buy for £19.99 on Amazon. Why is it non-profit and can you tell us how proceeds are helping others?
Depression and anxiety have been constant companions since I first developed acne at fifteen. Understanding how debilitating living with a mental illness can be, I wanted to support the professionals at Mind Mental Health charity who are ready to offer help to those in need at any time of day. In addition to the donation*, the journal itself has been designed to support those suffering with mental health issues as well as helping the user discover the cause of their breakouts. It does this by providing weekly motivational quotes and daily therapeutic colouring pages.
*for complete transparency, I donate £1 from each journal sold – the total profit after deducting the cost of the journal + Amazon subscription, fulfillment, and selling fees.
You offer skincare consultations and acne e-consultations, how do you find working online to reach others?
I decided to offer this service because I get a lot of direct messages asking for skincare advice. Answering all those DMs is a full-time job in itself! It made sense for me to make it an online service because then I could make it available to all of my followers. From my personal experience with acne, going to see professionals about my skin was always daunting because it meant leaving the house without makeup on. And depending on the location of the appointment, that could be enough of a deterrent to stop me from seeking help completely. By offering the service online it means that I don’t need to worry about office space and I can provide consultations at an affordable price.
Which other sites do you use for online business?
I’ve built my blog using WordPress which I found incredibly easy to make something user friendly and professional. Now that I offer consultations, I’ve created a page on there where clients can fill out their e-consultation and pay for the service via PayPal. I’ve also recently started using Calendly for clients to book their online consultations. It’s such a helpful, professional tool for me to be able to show my availability rather than going back and forth via email.
Linktree is another excellent tool for me! Part of my income comes from paid partnerships that stipulate displaying their website in my Instagram bio. With Linktree I can display several links at once -helping my followers navigate to their chosen destination rather than me only providing one option.
What platforms have you found boost being found online, for you?
Social media! Instagram specifically. I have accounts with other platforms but Instagram is where my community is and was an integral part of building my business!
I feel like social media is a place for connecting and learning. When I started using Instagram, I wanted to help others who were going through the same thing as me. What I didn’t expect was my feeling of accountability to them, which keeps me regularly motivated and inspired to create new ways to help them.
At Emocto will we very soon be available as an online marketplace for those with an online business or service to list, take payments, and connect with other businesses. All good things to help people in business basically! Yay! As a pro yourself, can you suggest what obstacles those with online service-based businesses face and how we could make life easier for people?
When I first launched the LYS journal, I quickly learned that being an Amazon Seller is entirely different to being an Amazon Customer, I found the seller support extremely frustrating and lost a bit of money signing up for the wrong subscriptions, never being able to get a refund. After a few months, I realised it doesn’t make financial sense for me to sell on Amazon, there are so many fees! If there was something available using one marketplace, excellent seller and customer support, and reasonable seller fees I would sign up tomorrow!
Another online payment service I use is Paypal. I love the security of this payment method. It saves me from taking anyone’s credit card/personal information which I love it for – making my life hassle-free! My only problem with using this service is their fees. While I don’t expect something for nothing, I would love for them to have smaller businesses in mind by waiving charges on smaller transactions.
On your blog you talk about ‘hormone-free birth control’ to ‘foundation to conceal acne’, what have you found is the most common problem among your following?
With so many different possible causes of acne, it means there are a lot of different subjects to talk about. The most common questions are cosmiceutical. The biggest problem for my followers is finding authentic advice without the sales pitches. There is so much contradicting advice available online, sometimes it can be hard to know what to listen to.
You also have a Skin positivity podcast, can you tell us a bit about what drove you to launch it?
I launched Cyster Station in 2019 because I wanted to be able to reach my followers when they weren’t actively on their devices. My anxiety was at its worst when I was alone with my thoughts. At the start of my recovery, I didn’t know how to turn down the volume of that voice in my head so I found listening to podcasts a great distraction. This lead me to develop content that I knew someone with acne anxiety needed to hear and be the positive, reassuring voice that they needed.
On the topic of positivity and wellness, how can we get through 2020 knowing it’s not been exactly what we all expected?!
One small comfort for me is knowing that I am not alone. But it’s the unknown that most people find so unsettling – I know I do. I’ve found finding small parts of my life that I can still be in control of particularly helpful. I’ve created new routines and built myself a new daily norm which I find comfort in. The last time I was isolated like this because of another reason other than my acne was because of hurricane Irma. I found myself without a job and the future I had planned for myself was ruined. It was during this unsettling period of my life that I created Beautiful by Breakfast.
Are you working full time on the Beautiful By Breakfast business?
Since April 2020 I have been working on Beautiful by Breakfast full-time. Before that, I was working fifty hours a week, fitting it in sporadically when I could.
It was hard to grow the business when my attention was so divided. It feels amazing to finally be dedicating my time and energy into something that I am so passionate about that I can call my own.
Can you give us one piece of business advice for others, a snippet that you wish you knew before starting out?
All progress takes place outside the comfort zone!