If you’re a makeup addict, the chances are that you already own a set of Spectrum makeup brushes, or at the very least have seen their colourful designs all over your Instagram feed.

Sisters Sophie and Hannah Pycroft started Spectrum Collections from their garage in Barry, Wales (yep that would be the same Barry Island you remember from Gavin and Stacey), and in less than four years have grown a company that is worth an estimated twelve MILLION pounds.

Cosmopolitan UK caught up with Hannah to find out how the sisters became the ultimate girl bosses and why starting your own company could be a very real possibility.

Life before Spectrum


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We were 24/25 and both working on a freelance basis in digital content creation. Sophie was a full time photographer covering weddings, fashion shoots, photoshoots, while I was dipping in and out of different graphic design jobs.

The lack of job opportunities in Wales was the main driving force for starting Spectrum, we could never find a job that was a substantial career for us here. There was nothing more we could do without moving to London, which isn’t what we wanted.

We wanted to work together because we both have complimentary skills, and always tried to get jobs together as much as possible when we were freelance. So we started thinking about what our business could be.

Small beginnings

Our company had to be fashion or beauty orientated for us to really love it and put all our energy into it, as that’s where our passions lie. We looked into fashion first but because of the range of clothes you need to form a substantial collection, we couldn’t afford to do it without investment.

That’s how we decided on makeup brushes. We felt all the ones on the market were really boring and we could do it without external help.

We invested £15,000 each from our savings and that basically covered the stock and the cost for us to start shipping. Everything else we did ourselves; the product photography, the website – we didn’t really have any other overheads. No overdrafts, no loans, nothing.

To this day we still haven’t taken any investment from anyone else.

The garage

We moved the business into my garage because there was no other option. It had no windows, no ventilation, it was just a box really. But we could close the door, put the radio on in our dressing gowns and get cracking.

We would print off everyone’s orders and labels, manually pick out all the brushes, quality check them, pack them, load them into our ford KA and take them to the post office. We were doing that up until 2016 when we finally outsourced fulfilment.

Spectrum makeup brushes
Hannah and Sophie in the garage where it all began


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I’m reluctant to ever leave this house because I’m so emotionally attached to the garage. I’m pretty sure if it wasn’t for the garage I would be separated from my partner because we there were makeup brushes EVERYWHERE.

The big break

For about six months our mum and dad would say, ‘Have you sold anything today?’. They would ask if we were going to carry on, but we never had any doubt in our minds. We did have a few ‘oh shit’ moments when we realised we had to pay tax and VAT but still couldn’t afford to pay ourselves. We were still freelancing on the side to make money to reinvest in the company so it was bloody knackering.

But then, the Glam Clam happened.

That product launch was the turning point. It was loosely inspired by the The Little Mermaid and we came up with the bag idea first because it was something we have never seen before. We had a load of people turn up to the launch party and then press and social media interest really picked up. It was amazing.

Don’t forget your roots

We now have a team of nine people and will be moving into a bigger office next month. The team is made up of some of our most skilled friends. They’ve seen the company grow from nothing and so have just as much passion for it as we do.

Our office, houses and the beach are all within five minutes of each other, so the commute to work is really easy. There are so few opportunities for creative people in Wales, so we want to help provide jobs and employ local. We just love Barry!

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The future for Spectrum

Private investors keep emailing us but we’re not interested, we don’t have an exit plan. That’s why we haven’t grown the business bigger than we’re able to manage, we don’t want an outsider questioning our decisions as business women.

I think this year is going to be a huge turning point for us. We will be expanding into Boots stores which is just so exciting!

We’re working really hard at being as environmentally conscious as we can. All the packing on our products in Boots is biodegradable and we’re proud to prove that cruelty-free vegan products don’t have to be brown and made of a bamboo.

Hopefully in the next three years we will have a couple of stand alone stores. We’re also hoping to expand our international customer base, starting with America and then Australia and Dubai. If Sephora want to give us an email that would be great!

Advice for others

When we started the business, we never went above and beyond what we knew we could physically do ourselves. Do things gradually – we still worked freelance for two years when we first started Spectrum, working all day and all night. A lot of people think they are going to start earning mega bucks straight away but success is down to how hard you’re willing to work for it, you have to be self motivated.

Listen to your gut, realise your limitations and surround yourself with a good team. If staff see you working your arse off they’ll follow your lead.

Nothing beats the freedom of creating your own products and brand.

Follow Laura on Instagram.

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