Claire Shread: How I Co-Founded Haircare Brand Umberto Giannini

interview claire sheard umberto giannini

Having clocked up over 20 years' experience running expert haircare brand Umberto Giannini within the ever-changing world of beauty, Claire Sheard is a force to be reckoned with. In this interview, she breaks down her thoughts on female friendships, being a businesswoman, and her future goals...

Tell us the story behind starting Umberto Giannini? What inspired you to launch it?

The brand was launched in the 90s alongside my partner Umberto Giannini, a celebrity and award winning International hairdresser. We wanted to make it more achievable for everyone to get the salon quality results at home with game-changing products that transform the way you look and feel and to make you love your hair!

After over 20 years we continue to create transformational products that take the style secrets from the salon and session world into innovative formulas that really work.

From the start, as a lifelong Vegan, I wanted to champion animal welfare and so we always have and always will be 100% Vegan and Cruelty Free.

What’s the best thing about being a businesswoman in the beauty industry?

UG is a brand that aims to empower women to feel the best version of themselves whether that’s using our products or working in our organisation. The beauty industry is better than most for recognising the achievements of women but we still have a long way to go to be truly considered equal.

What’s the hardest thing about being a businesswoman in the beauty industry?

The worst of inequality reaches through every industry, women are still massively under-represented on boards and in ownership.

Since launching Umberto Giannini, what’s been your most rewarding moment?

Gaining B Corp certification which is validation of all the hard work that we put behind the scenes to create and maintain a brand to have a positive impact to the planet and people. It has not always been the easiest route for the business, but myself and the whole team are incredibly proud of the achievement to uphold the highest standards of social and environmental impact with the business we do, we call it doing good business, beautifully!

Tell us about 3 women you look up to and couldn’t live without?

I couldn’t possibly pick only 3 but they would be from my circle of amazing friends who I count as family. My mother died many years ago but she continues to be my inspiration and my role model in almost every situation.

What are your go-to skincare essentials that help you to feel your best every day?

I’m a big fan of Weleda, a fellow B Corp beauty brand, and very lucky to have a lovely talented friend who does the most amazing Weleda facials and massages (she also runs our Friday afternoon team meditation sessions!) she has been educating me on a lighter touch approach to my skincare regime and I can really see the difference in the quality of my skin.

How would you define a strong businesswoman?

The same way I would define a strong businessman! There is no difference in definition and we should be careful to not frame women in business any differently to men, we are equal in all aspects of business.

Why are your female friendships important to you?

As I get older I become more aware of divine feminine power and the incredible collective power of women. I cherish the unspoken understanding of female friendships.

What are your top 3 tips for aspiring businesswomen wanting to start their own beauty brand?

  1. Know your numbers, the most exiting and creative brands will fail very quickly if you don’t understand the commercial aspects of the business.
  2. Be slow to hire and quick to fire, an old cliche but so true. Good people make good businesses, don’t compromise on this.
  3. Get experience with a business you admire before you launch out on your own, not only will it be invaluable training but they may become an important partner and ally to you in the future. One of the joys of being in business is the collaboration and friendships you make with other business owners.

What are your goals for the future? Anything exciting in the pipeline for 2022?

Deliver on our goal mission to be 100% recyclable and recycled across our full range. Continue to build the global community of UG and help people to love their hair through accessible mindful products. We have some exciting innovation launching this year which I am very excited for - so watch this space!

Claire's Most-Loved Umberto Giannini Products

1. Umberto Giannini Volume Boost Shampoo

2. Umberto Giannini Scalp Scrub

3. Umberto Giannini Grow Mask

Shop the full Umberto Giannini haircare range now at Face The Future and treat your locks to nourishment, hydration, and shine. 

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