Charlotte Ferguson, Founder of Disciple.

Talk Straight | Think Smart with Charlotte Ferguson

Talk Straight | Think Smart with Charlotte Ferguson

From experimenting with ingredients in her kitchen, to being stocked by Cult Beauty and John Lewis, Charlotte Ferguson's skincare business Disciple has gone from strength to strength since it was founded in 2018.
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I was completely sort of uninhibited when it came to starting a business. I didn't think about the finances, I didn't think about the marketing, I just wanted to do this thing

Charlotte Ferguson
Founder of Disciple

Charlotte didn't have a background in business when she started skincare brand Disciple. But what she did have was a background in psychotherapy, a unique insight into the causes of skin issues, and a solution that could transform not only her own skin but other people's too.

After a chance encounter with British athlete Kriss Akabusi in the BBC canteen, Charlotte's childhood ambition was to be a journalist and she started her career working in fashion PR.  However, working in the industry negatively impacted her mental health and she found herself battling depression and anxiety. The positive experience she had in counselling led to her changing her career path and she retrained as a psychotherapist so she could help others.

While working in both private practice and for the NHS, Charlotte wasn't looking after herself properly, and she noticed it had a detrimental effect on her skin. After speaking to clients who were experiencing similar issues, she started to explore the topic, and learnt that 75% of skin issues were caused by stress. 

Charlotte wanted to find something to cure her own skin but nothing seemed to work. So she did a lot of research into ingredients and started to blend formulas at home in her kitchen. Eventually she got the winning combination and her skin cleared up in six weeks. That's when she decided to start selling her products. 

Jumping forward to 2020 and COVID-19, things took off for Disciple. People weren’t going for facials, or going out for dinner, so there was a lot of money to spend on self-care. 

In this episode, hear how Disciple went from an experiment in Charlotte's kitchen to a revolutionary skincare brand. Charlotte shares stories about a game-changing LinkedIn message and moving production into their garage at the start of COVID-19. She also tells us about upcoming investment opportunities and sustainable plans for the future.

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Quick fire round

Each episode we ask our guests quick fire questions. Hover below to see what this revealed about this week's guest, Charlotte Ferguson....

Favourite Disciple product

Why us down arrow

Dreamy Skin. It was our first product and is still our best seller. 

Zoom, here to stay or distant memory?

Why us down arrow

I hope they're here to stay, I really like them because I'm introverted. 

Grow, sell or start again?

Why us down arrow

 I would probably start again and do it differently.

Invest in people or tech?

Why us down arrow

People, definitely people, 100%.

Perfection every time or launch and learn?

Why us down arrow

Launch and learn, clearly! Just get it out and get some feedback.

A little more about this episode…

When Charlotte was at school she ended up spending a day at the BBC, filming for a children's TV programme. Whilst there she bumped into British athlete Kriss Akabusi in the canteen, with whom she shared a conversation about her future as a journalist. A few years later she started work experience at a fashion PR agency, which she later rejoined after a stint at university.

But she ended up hating her job as it really affected her mental health. After going through counselling Charlotte decided that she wanted to work in counselling herself. She qualified as a psychotherapist and began seeing patients both in private practice and the NHS. This resulted in long working hours and she wasn't taking good care of herself, causing issues with her skin. She decided to do something about it.

Charlotte's experience in psychotherapy taught her that actually looking at the root cause of skin problems could help find a better solution than what was on the market already. Her journey initially began as a means to cure her own issues but she wasn't alone. She discovered many of the women she was working with who experienced trauma, stress and anxiety were also suffering from skin or hair loss issues. So she made it her mission to create products that worked.

She initially started blending products in her kitchen but after finding some of the products really worked she wanted to get them out there. Charlotte thought to herself if she found a product that worked she would use it forever, she would be a disciple of the brand, and that's where the name came from. She set up an Instagram and built a website and Disciple was born.

At this point, it was still just a side hustle, but after a conversation with her husband, she decided to take a leap of faith and message a buyer from Cult Beauty, who agreed to stock her products. After this, she got a £150,000 seed investment to grow the business. It's now stocked in John Lewis, Boots, Holland & Barrett and Planet Organic too.

At this point, it was still just a side hustle, but after a conversation with her husband, she decided to take a leap of faith and message a buyer from Cult Beauty, who agreed to stock her products. After this, she got a £150,000 seed investment to grow the business. It's now stocked in John Lewis, Boots, Holland & Barrett and Planet Organic too.

COVID threw a spanner in the works when her three members of staff decided to go home to isolate but being a small and agile business allowed her to move operations back to her house fairly swiftly. The business quickly became busy with people spending money on self-care and products to relieve their anxieties.

What's in store for the future? They're fundraising at the moment for their next growth spurt, working on a launch into the rest of Europe and planning more sustainable packaging.


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