The Phoenix is a fascinating bird. It is said that this bird will catch on fire, and burn to nothing but ashes. Once there is no life or anything left of this creature, that it will rise again. Out of the ashes will be born a new stronger bird. All great phoenix stories, have to start with an epic fail or death. And without the failure of Cosmetics-To-Go, we would never have the amazing company that is Lush.
In 1977 the first company was born. Constantine & Weir was formed by Liz Weir and Mark Constantine. Liz was a beautician and Mark was a visionary obsessed with natural/herbal hair and scalp treatments. When Mo (Mark’s wife) would come home from work, her and Mark would stay up late working on different concoctions. They opened a small shop in Poole, and while money was tight they were growing and the three of them were happy.
Around the same time, a little store was beginning to emerge as well. You might recognize it: The Body Shop. Very quickly The Body Shop became Constantine & Weir’s largest client. Within a few years, it was not enough to just be their client. The Body Shop offered to buy Constantine & Weir for a small price of nine million pounds, to be paid over the coarse of three years. Liz and Mark signed the deal. The only condition of the sale, is that they were not allowed to open any retail stores that would compete with The Body Shop.
The solution: open a mail order company. On Feb 29, 1988 Cosmetics-To-Go is born. At the time typical mail orders would take 28-32 days to deliver once you placed the order. Mark and Liz set up to have items turned around in a far quicker time frame. They were on top of the world. With problems of: to many orders, clients loving the product to much, having to hire more staff.
While this seems like great problems to have, certainly the signs of a booming business, they ran into issues of: longer ship times, getting orders wrong, or not shipping orders at all. They began to over compensate their inventory shortage, by hiring extra staff to produce stock around the clock. They began to stock up for Christmas time. However, the orders started to slow. Clients were worried about not getting their presents in time for Christmas, or at all. The last payment from The Body Shop, was late. And fear that it was not coming was beginning to set in. To help save money, the company would turn off the heat system at night. Every penny that could be saved would be.
Up on the top floor a small radiator sat, harmless really. And up there it was forgotten about. Christmas night, the temperature dropped lower enough to kick on this tiny little radiator. Late that night, Mark got a phone call saying that the alarms at Cosmetics-To-Go were going off, and water was seeping out the front door. He made a few frantic calls, and rushed to the factory.
Normally the happy and upbeat workplace, looked like it was crying. There was water everywhere, on every floor. Everything was ruined. While it did not set itself on fire and burn to the ground, Cosmetics-To-Go simply drown. There was nothing to save. Mark and Liz left their crying factory, closed the front doors behind them. Never to be opened again. Cosmetics-To-Go was over.
Be sure to check back next Thursday, to find out how the Phoenix rose into the beautiful strong company that we know today.