After more than 25 years as a journalist and consultant in the beauty industry, Kate Shapland became an entrepreneur in 2013 when she founded Legology. She spoke to Fani Mari about the beginning of her brand, its global success and some of her favourite beauty and non-beauty items
You were in the beauty industry for many years as a journalist and editor, did this help with the launch of Legology?
In many ways it did, yes. Working as a print beauty editor gave me an eye for detail and an understanding of formula and the consumer mindset, which very much helped with the development of the brand. I knew exactly what I wanted Legology to do and how I wanted it to look. My contact book helped, too. I knew who I wanted to make the formula, who I wanted to sell it, and I had a lot of editorial support from my beauty writing contemporaries. In other ways, my professional background did not help. I had little experience in business or manufacturing and these areas presented very steep learning curves for me.
How did you create the brand and what inspired you to work on it?
I was inspired by my own interest, by what I knew consumers wanted but wasn’t available – a grown-up product for a deeply unsexy problem – and I went to an independent French chemist to get it made from scratch. Under no circumstances would my product be off the shelf.
What’s your desert island product?
Legology Air-Lite Daily Lift for Legs, especially if the desert island is going to be hot. It’s my hero, and I created it because I needed it and I knew a lot of other women did ‒ and it didn’t exist.
What is the process of coming up with a new product? How long does it take approximately?
I’m sure it’s different for everyone. It’s certainly different for every product. I had a very clear idea about what I wanted my brand to do and how I wanted it to look from the start, so it was just a question of finding people who could make my ideas tangible. That was easier said than done, however. The formula took years to get right and caused me great anxiety. But once it was perfect I had the basis for the rest of the brand – a unique deep drainage formula and light legs philosophy that would work across the other products I developed. Cellu-Lite Salon Secret for Legs, our newest product, was a simple idea – all the most powerful diuretic oils in one blend – but it turned out to be incredibly complicated to make. It can be challenging to stay in love with a new product throughout the development process. The romance of product development disappears pretty quickly with the practical disciplines of manufacture.
Do you have a favourite product from your line?
Air-Lite, always and forever. But I’m also pretty obsessed with Exfo-Lite Stimulating Salts for Legs, my double glow deep detox exfoliator.
What’s your personal favourite ingredient when it comes to skincare?
Aromatherapy oil. I love a good facial oil. I mix oils with creams and serums, with masks and exfoliators – I can’t resist them.
Do you think consumers are now more interested in ingredients and what goes into a product?
Many are; many are not. It’s a wonderful thing that so many consumers now take more interest in the ingredients that go into beauty goods and understand how they benefit the skin. But it’s important to be balanced in that understanding, to really know the background to ingredients and not ‘monster’ certain ingredients because of popular perception. Lanolin, for example, is a fantastic ingredient for skin, but it was unnecessarily viewed as public enemy number one for years. Parabens are not necessarily bad, either. Really, I urge you to read the full story on them from every side. But on the other hand, microbeads – recently banned in the UK – deserve a bad rap.
What’s your make-up routine like?
Quick. Tinted moisturiser mixed with face cream, blusher and lip balm or gloss. No mascara unless I’m going to a meeting. I love Beauty Pie and Bobbi Brown bases; I love Clarins and Guerlain lip colours (currently in my bag are Clarins Instant Light Natural Lip Perfector in 08 plum and Guerlain Gloss d’Enfer in 863), and I’ve used a Chanel blusher for years.
Any skincare favourites from other brands?
Rodin Olio Lusso jasmine neroli luxury face oil, Ebo Winter essential face oil, Amly Beauty Sleep face spritz, Pai Rosehip Bioregenerate oil ‒ all the oils.
How about the high street?
I’m never without Avène skin recovery cream, which I buy at my local chemist along with Wiberg Pine bath essence, Mavala nail polish, Vichy shampoo and supplements.
Where do you shop for clothes? And beauty?
SpaceNK, Liberty, Net-a-Porter and my chemist for beauty. Zara, & Other Stories and vintage outlets for clothes.
Do you cook? What’s your favourite meal to make? And favourite restaurant to eat at?
I’m a baker and bottler more than a cook. My husband is the cook; I’m better at making cakes and bottling marmalade and chutneys at weekends. Having said that, I make a good shepherd’s pie. My favourite restaurant is La Famiglia on Langton Street; Italian restaurants have the best atmosphere.
Legology is stocked from LA to Paris and, of course, at Net-a-Porter, which is super exciting. What’s next for your brand?
We’ve developed a signature professional treatment, the ultimate leg-contouring massage, which we currently offer via independent therapists, and we will be developing this side of our business further in the coming year. We are also working with SpaceNK on a launch in the US and with new distributor-retailers in Australia, Brazil, Germany, Switzerland and Austria, all key markets for Legology. Don’t even get me on to new product development…