Used on the brows of top A-listers from Beyonce to Billie Eilish, Soap Brows hit the beauty scene in 2016 with phenomenal organic growth to become a bestselling beauty staple.
Co-founder, Kimberley Cattin had been working as a make-up artist on tv/ film and fashion sets when she spotted a gap in the market for a soap-based beauty product to keep eyebrows in place, prompting the launch of the company, West Barn Co, with her mother and co-founder, Donna McCann-Turner.
Kimberley Cattin, Chief Executive Officer, West Barn Co. said: “So many people think we are from LA! A lot of our customers are from the USA and we have a lot of clients who are LA make-up artists. I travelled a lot when I was a make-up artist, particularly around the UK, and bigger cities like London and Manchester are usually the go-to hub to be based when you are in the makeup industry. But there is so much talent in the North East and we knew we wanted to be based here. We created an innovative product, and we’ve shown it can be done successfully while maintaining our base in the region.”
Outsiders may raise a brow of surprise that this global beauty brand is manufactured and dispatched from a small northern city in the UK, but one step into the newly refurbished 11,000sqft head office in County Durham and you can see how this brand has escalated on the beauty scene. The slick, fresh and vibrant energy is infectious, with the talented and dynamic team of 27 behind the scenes ensuring the brand presence and distribution globally to over 60 countries.
With over 15 years’ experience as a professional make-up artist, Kimberley is immensely well-travelled around the globe, but when it came to setting up a HQ for the growing business there was no place Kimberley would rather be than in her home region.
Kimberley added: “I think there is so much potential in the North East and we received some great support during our journey from the Chamber of Commerce, DIT and RTC’s Scale Up programme. We were also fortunate to have some great mentors who saw the passion in the business, and we were
able to learn from their expertise.
There was also the scope to learn from their mistakes as they’d been there and done it, it’s so important to learn from others and absorb as much information and expertise as you can when you’re on your business journey.”
Although a huge product in the USA and the Middle East and stocked in high-end outlets such as Harrods, Liberty London and Urban Outfitters, the importance of playing homage to their northern roots is very evident in their everyday operations, with the product colour range named with regional references of Coal, Sand, Brew and Clay.
The company’s heart for the North East is clearly as heavy and vast as the tree (yes a real tree) which they had shipped on site as part of their luxurious refurb, standing dominant in the centre of the site in the quirky chillout area complete with swings. It’s the ultimate design statement and coming in at half a tonne in weight, like the company it is there to stay.
A strong family dynamic weighs heavily on the company with a host of family members involved in key roles including Kimberley’s twin sister Kirsty McCann, who is Events and PR Manager through to other family members involved in Creative Design, Packaging and Distribution.
Kimberley added: “When you own your own business, you do eat, sleep, breath the business, so the business can creep into homelife, but we do try and set boundaries between work and family life. I’m much stricter with my sister as we are best friends, and we have the same friendship group so we make sure there is no work chatter when we are out, but I’m not always as strict on this with Donna (Mum)!”
Although it is a strong family affair at West Barn Co. it is clear that the dynamic links intrinsically with the nonfamily members of the team, creating a strong and innovative culture.
Kimberley added: “The team is very much one big family (related or not), and we need to ensure that anyone we recruit is a good fit within not just their own team, but also across the company. This has been key to creating the empowering culture that we have across West Barn Co. and has strengthened our growth substantially.”
With an array of brow and skin prep products now in their impressive portfolio, there was an extra buzz in the air when we visited as the team were in the swings of final preparations for an innovative new ‘top secret’ product, which is due to hit the beauty market at the end of June 2022. Our lips are sealed but this new addition is set to complete the brow collection – and given the organic high-profile endorsements for the brand to date it looks like another hit is brewing.
Kimberley said: “We have some amazing new products coming out over the following months, they’re
really innovative. The line will have a ‘full face’ of make-up feel with all the products needed and a no make-up, make up vibe. It’s all about dewy, fresh skin and enhancing your individuality, your natural beauty. We’re really going inside out on the make-up, it’s really exciting!”
Alongside the high-profile product range, the company is now also creating waves in the aesthetic beauty market with their newly launched WBCo. Clinic, which is nestled next door to the luxury HQ. Exceptional growth is in the pipeline for this newest diversification, and it is a source of huge excitement for Kimberley who had previously qualified and worked as a nurse.
Kimberley said: “I’m really passionate about the next phase of growth and the development of the
business and WBCo. Clinic is a project which is very close to my heart. I loved my nursing degree and work, but at the time the new business was growing so I needed to step away from nursing as I really believed in the business. The plan had always been to do aesthetics, and with the new clinic I’m able to interject the knowledge from nursing combined with our products. To get our products into professional hands is incredibly unique and in the medical arena our unique and holistic approach to
patient consultation through our 6-step process is a really innovative approach and turning heads.”
Their holistic approach helps to uncover clients’ skin aspirations and goals, using a range of professional treatments to boost confidence and overall feeling of wellness, carrying forward the mission of empowering natural beauty and individuality. In essence, clients will have the opportunity to sign up to a yearly plan to support them to work towards wellness goals with treatments matched and complementing each intrinsically to ensure the best and most costeffective results. From HIFU targeted treatments through to beautifEYE treatments, a menu of treatments are on hand to help clients become the most confident version of themselves. 2022 will also see the roll out of the WBCo. Clinic concept launched in other clinics and salons across the UK through a franchise model, with talks with the USA reps advancing quickly. This will run alongside the launch of the renowned WBCo. Signature Facial hitting notable spas imminently.
As a further growth trajectory gets set to build momentum and the mammoth amount that has been achieved to date at West Barn Co. Kimberley reflected on her standout moments to date.
Kimberley said: “It’s hard to pinpoint an exact moment. The celebrity and influencer endorsements
have been amazing, but for me when we get validation from industry professionals and previous peers that really is wonderful when they tag us and it’s in their makeup bag!
I must also say I was a bit overwhelmed when Beyonce’s makeup artist had used it on her, that was an
OMG moment. But the moment that really hit me was when I was in my favourite shop, Liberty London and it was stocked there right in front of me, that was a really nice surreal moment.”
West Barn Co. is already one of the region’s most exciting and innovative businesses with their vibrant
and innovative approach to product development and expansion. They are most definitely one to watch for future global growth and we are sure the team will be raising brows for many years to become one of the flagship success stories for North East businesses.