Ann Shields, Anneco Beauty

From Banking to Beauty, Ann Shields has created an amazing collection of natural mineral cosmetic make-up. Ann was involved in rolling out AIB’s online banking across the Midlands, which was a great challenge, and a very exciting time for her. However, Ann started looking around for a business opportunity that she could feel passionate about. She was always interested in the beauty industry and has international qualifications in Aestheticienne and Makeup Artistry.

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Ann researched her market thoroughly before she embarked on creating the Anneco range. She discovered the emerging trends in the market place where women are becoming more discerning about the type of makeup they use, moving away from chemical based make-up and opting for products that are more natural. Ann could see that there was a business here for her and initially she looked around for a manufacturer to produce a range of mineral cosmetic make-up under her own brand. However, having spent a lot of time exploring this option she could not come up with a product she was very happy with. Therefore, it left her with no other option than to look at ways as to how she could produce these products for herself.

She was determined to produce only the best mineral make-up on the market. “I am not going to say it was easy,” says Ann. “I worked very hard to develop the products but all the hard work was worthwhile because I am very proud of what I have achieved”.

Ann trained with the leading U.S. based botanical blends tutor Cinda Phelps. “I wanted to work with and learn from the best in the industry”, says Ann. “I was also very fortunate to team up with Dr. Brian O’Rourke from Carlow IT as part of the Innovation Voucher from Enterprise Ireland”. She believes that this collaboration with Dr. Brian O’Rourke was key to her business success as they worked tirelessly on the formulations and physical testing’s.

Ann believes the naturally flattering 'earth colours' which have been carefully blended at Anneco, creates makeup which as well as being pure, natural and honest, feels smooth, silky and radiant on the skin. She also believes her range of products have excellent healing and renewal properties. Vitamin E and Jojoba Oil, which are used to blend the minerals are known for their contribution to healthy cell rejuvenation.

The benefits of using such fine ingredients in their products means that the Anneco mineral make-up range will not clog pores, is non-Acnegenic and is chemical-free. They are also SPF 40 after application which gives approx. 97% protection from UV rays.

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The beauty business is a crowded market and Ann is very aware that she is competing with global brands. Getting the Anneco branding right first time was critical. While she was very confident about her product, she fully understood that she had to get the packaging right as her business is visual and she needs to stand out on a crowded shelf.

Anneco cosmetics are sold primarily into Health Stores where they are competing against top brands like Dr. Hauschka and Bare Minerals. She has been very happy so far with the market response and she is getting repeat orders. Anneco cosmetics are also for sale in Shannon Airport and the response there has been amazing. Ann plans to talk to Dublin Airport and the other Irish regional airports. Her range is also sold in the Therapie Laser Clinics chain.

Ann is very appreciative of all the support she has got from The Local Enterprise Office Laois in the past. They have provided start-up and supports for participating at some key Trade Fairs which were critical for creating brand awareness. She also attended a number of their training programmes which really helped her develop her business skills.

Ann has an e-Commerce website where she sells her full range of products. In order to entice people to make a buying decision, she has introduced a sample pack. Customers can order a €5 sample pack to test what shade of makeup suits their skin tone and get a €5 voucher to redeem on their purchase. This has been a great initiative as there is limited risk for the customer and they are sure they are receiving the perfect match for their skin tone.

Ann likes to meet her target customers and enjoys the in-store demonstrations which work very well as she finds people like to meet the business owner behind the brand. It also gives her the opportunity to get feedback.

She cites her proudest moment when recently she opened the Saturday Irish Times magazine and Kathleen Harris had given the Anneco range a full page. Kathleen writes on all things natural and carried out a full review of her products and was very positive about the range.

Ann has so many ideas about where Anneco is going to go in the future. In the future she wants to look at expanding her sales into the UK and then Germany as she has been heartened by the range of customers currently buying from her online from different countries.

If there were ONE piece of advice Ann would give to someone starting out it would be as follows. “There is too much focus on the end result”, Ann says. “The end result might be very different from what you imagined it to be so it is best that you focus on the journey and enjoy the experience”.