By Amy Anderson
Lush is, without a doubt, one of Britain’s most iconic cosmetics brands. They sell thousands of their fresh, handmade products every day, have a cult following and their shops can be found all over the world. The thing I admire about Lush is their unwavering commitment to the environment and their high ethical standards that have never changed, despite their success. The company point-blank refuses to test their products on animals, buy ingredients from any company that does and is actively involved with several campaigns.
However, things didn’t always go so smoothly for the successful brand. Danger! Cosmetics to Go is a new book which tells the story of the rise and fall of Cosmetics to Go, the ill-fated company that preceded Lush. Written by former Lush Saturday girl and self-confessed enthusiast Mira Manga, the book offers a rare glimpse into the origins of the company that we’ve all grown to know and love. I was lucky enough to have a chat with Mira to find out about where it all started, why she decided to write the book and what fans can expect from the book.
Hi Mira! Could you tell me a little bit how you got your first job with Lush?
I was a big Lush fan and would pop into the Carnaby Street store most Saturdays. The team in there were always enthusiastic and friendly so I really enjoyed my trips there. One day in November I was being served by a stunning and friendly girl called Nicola and I asked if there were any jobs going. I was only an intern at MTV at the time and on a very low wage so it made sense to try and get some additional work. She told me that they were hiring Christmas temps and I ran off back to the MTV office in Oxford Street and printed a CV and cover letter. The rest, as they say, is history!
How did your first day go?
My whole first day seemed to speed by – it was a bit of a blur but full of smiles, demos and fun customers.
What was it about working in a Lush store that made you want to go on and pursue a career with the company?
I loved the camaraderie, compassion and friendship of my colleagues. It’s not often that you get to work with people that inspire you. I also loved the fact that Lush is a truly ethical company and that they stand by what they say as that makes me feel ever so proud to be a part of it.
What have been the best and most challenging things about working for Lush?
The best thing is that I get to work alongside like-minded, inspiring people who care about the issues that I care about. My Lush colleagues are supportive, kind and awesome people. The most challenging thing about working for Lush is being able to keep up and stretch myself to bring in more creative projects.
You’ve recently written the first ever book about Lush. How did the book come about and what made you want to write it, personally?
The company had been trying to write a book about Lush for a long time but nothing had ever come together. At the same time Mark, the company founder, was trying to figure out what my new role would be. After a colleague passed him some chapters of a book I was writing about disastrous dating, he decided to give me the opportunity to have a go at writing a book for Lush. I guess my dating disasters must have made him laugh!
What do you hope Lush fans get out of reading the book?
They’ll get to hear all about the origins of our most iconic products and how we started from humble beginnings. All the founders, staff and customers I interviewed gave me so much of their time so I’ve been able to tell lots of untold stories and reveal some behind-the-scenes secrets, too!
You spent nearly 2 years carrying out research to help you write Danger! Cosmetics to Go. What was the most fascinating thing you found out during this time?
The project took 23 months from inception to publication so I finished it in just under 2 years. The most fascinating thing I discovered was just how long we have been a campaigning company – we have always cared about the issues close to the heart of Lush such as animal testing and environmental issues so to see the genesis of this in Cosmetics to Go was wonderful.
In keeping with Lush values, each copy of the book is printed on 100% recycled paper. How important was this?
Super important because I love reading but don’t like the thought of swathes of forest being destroyed for our reading pleasure. I read a lot and I prefer to borrow from my local library as that’s one of the most wonderful forms of recycling!
The imagery in the book is amazing! Can you tell me a little bit about it?
The design and imagery in the book all comes from the Cosmetics to Go archives and the designers from there helped us to realise our vision. CHS are a creative design studio who produced all the original Cosmetics to Go catalogues and they helped enormously – without them, I don’t think we would have achieved such a beautiful book!
Tell me something that I won’t already know about Lush….
You’ll find out lots of things you never knew about Lush inside the pages of Danger! Cosmetics to Go…