Behind every triumph there is a story to tell, which is why Mira Manga’s book ‘Danger! Cosmetics To Go’ makes for such an inspiring read. Everyone has heard of cosmetics company LUSH, but this story focuses on its fascinating predecessor, Cosmetics To Go.
Cosmetics To Go sadly went into administration in 1994 after a 17-year, rollercoaster journey. To focus a story on a company that no longer exists is a brave concept but this chronicle is so absorbing it makes you wish you were around to see it all take place. It also makes you understand why the story needed to be voiced – without the entrepreneurs and the inventions that feature in the book, LUSH and many other cosmetics companies, would not be the same, or here, today.
The co-founders of Cosmetics To Go, Mark and Mo Constantine and Liz Weir, are the protagonists of this retro-illustrated book. Their vision and passion is portrayed in every chapter. With each turn of the page, their team grows and their products develop. As you read, your mind is in awe of such a dynamic and pioneering team getting a niche concept off the ground. If this book teaches the reader anything, it is that hard work gets you everywhere and teamwork and creativity are key in this.
The evolution of ideas and branding are also key focuses. It offers glimpses into product development, the science behind beauty, logos and packaging, collaborations, events, publicity, environmental responsibilities and much more. Showing what did work and what didn’t, the book is more honest than any company account I have read before.
Perhaps the most telling chapter is the one dedicated to cosmetic chemist, Stan Krysztal. Again, focusing on the personalities behind the company, it is moving to read about icons that shaped the industry into what it is today. Much like LUSH and Cosmetics To Go, this book is natural, fresh and charming. Full of memories, letters and old photographs, it’s as if you are reading an autobiography, making this book one to treasure.
It is wrong to say that this book is a ‘history’ book, but once completed, you feel more knowledgeable about the beauty industry as it reveals the highs and lows any company can expect. Personally, I would like to see a larger focus on the business and entrepreneurial side of the story, offering tips for anyone in the same boots as Mark, Mo and Liz. I also believe a sequel on the rise of LUSH, from the ashes of Cosmetics To Go, now needs to follow to end on a high.
Overall, ‘Danger! Cosmetics To Go’ is a must-read for any aspiring beauty or business entrepreneurs. Although it may not protect you from learning the lessons every businessperson will eventually learn, it will make you realise why you started in the first place; the dream of a product and company you believe in, realised to make the world that little bit sweeter.
Reviewed by Kimberely Ho-A-Sho. Images © LUSH Ltd.