Success story built on firm foundation
WITH TV appearances and coverage in glossy magazines, as well as a continuous increase in products and a number of new staff, Lily Lolo is one of East Yorkshire's success stories.
The cosmetics company produces mineral make-up and was launched in 2005 from founder Vikki Khan's spare bedroom. Now, it sells 130 products and has 250 stockists.
"It's incredible how far we have come," said founder Vikki Khan.
"We used to make it to order – now we see large pallets going to Sweden and Japan."
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The team has continued to flourish, with nine members now part of the business, one being Vikki's husband Arfan, who looks after the operations.
Now, the Hessle business success story, which is named after Vikki's sisters Lisa and Lorraine, wants to continue to grow and increase its brand.
"We want to take the brand as far as we can. We want to get the turnover to £5m in the next three years," Vikki said.
Lily Lolo began after Vikki, who trained as a beauty therapist when she left school, ordered some mineral make up from America and started selling a few products herself.
She ordered some products from the States and when it arrived, could not believe how good it was.
At the time, mineral make-up was virtually unheard of, with none of Vikki's friends or family knowing what it was.
So she decided to sell some products herself, which led her and Arfan to devise their own business.
The businesswoman, who previously worked in Leeds for a company that gave grants to small businesses, is confident others can also launch their own business.
Vikki said: "I would say to anyone that if they have an idea they believe in, give it a go. There are plenty of people who talk about starting their own business and there are few reasons they wouldn't succeed. I think you should go for it.
"It was very scary to launch it but it is the best decision I have ever made."
East Yorkshire may not be the first place people think of as a cosmetics hub but this hasn't been an issue for Lily Lolo.
"The business has gradually grown," Vikki said.
"Being based here hasn't caused any problems. In fact we have just taken on a fashion and marketing graduate and this is her dream job, so I think it is good for the area to have a business like ours – it's something different."
About 55 per cent of Lily Lolo's business is online and it also has a distributor in Denmark. It distributes in Japan and Sweden and France is also becoming a big market.
"We have grown organically year on year and we have always been profitable," Vikki said.
"It has been a brilliant journey and we have learnt so much about cosmetics and the industry.
"I absolutely love it."
The East Yorkshire business, which sells cosmetics made only from natural products, has made a number of appearances in glossy magazines and on TV. It also had a recent recommendation from Girls Aloud singer Kimberley Walsh.
The popularity of mineral make-up has soared but this hasn't had a negative effect on Lily Lolo – it's had the opposite.
Vikki said: "This just gives us a bigger market and makes our lives easier. We are a very positive business.
"When we first started it was more about education but now everyone knows what mineral make-up is. This is good for us."
Mineral make-up is made from natural, crushed minerals and contains no harsh dyes, preservatives, waxes or fillers.
Lily Lolo products are stocked in five salons in the region, including Beverley's De Lacy Spa and Hull's Baker Street Retreat.