Taking 10 with...Susan Gerrard

Taking 10 with...Susan Gerrard

Sunday 11th March 2018

By Michelle Hammond

Q1 - How did your childhood influence your work ethic and attitude towards business?

I had a normal, happy and stable childhood with my father having his own business which was successful. Also, together with a group of men he started a youth club locally and so I was always very proud of him. I have always wanted to follow his example. In those days, just after the war, some things were in short supply so our expectations were not high and we appreciated what we had. We were not short of anything but we were also never over-indulged. And even as a child and certainly as a teenager, I always wanted to do the best I could. Perhaps it was also because my sister and brother both went to Grammar schools and I failed what was then called the ’11 plus’ and so I wanted to show them that I could succeed. I have always been competitive and so I did succeed by studying hard and equalling their results in the O levels (which is now GCSE’s) and also gaining an A level.

Q2 - What do you believe the principles of a successful business are today?

The principles of a successful business today, I believe, are to understand the market that you are aiming for and to find a gap. Know and understand your competition and be ambitious, optimistic but realistic about what can be achieved. Make sure that you are surrounded with a good team each of them strong in their own expertise and don’t feel threatened if they are better than you are because that is always a good thing.

Never stop learning. It is important to always keep an open mind and be prepared for changes to be made along the way. And of course it goes without saying that you have to be passionate about whatever business you have. After balancing out the positives and negatives of any decision, I normally listen to my heart and follow my gut instinct which thankfully has mostly been right.

Q3 - Looking back, what was your best business decision?

Looking back my best business decision was to bring Jessica to the UK and introduce the brand to the professional market which was at that time hugely underdeveloped in manicure and pedicure. I felt that manicures and pedicures deserved the same status and support as was given to skincare. I travelled the whole country and successfully put the Jessica brand into spas and salons and then personally trained all of their teams in a much higher standard of manicure and pedicure. I then returned on a regular basis to help them grow their business and train any new members of staff. I attended promotional events both daytime and evening where I held nail advice clinics, performed manicures and gave home-care advice which in turn created great retail sales.The numbers grew and grew and so I then employed a sales team nationwide, all of whom had to be beauty therapists, to further increase the business, look after our spas and salons and train them in the Jessica technique. All this completely revolutionised the natural nail industry and took manicure from just a manicurist sitting on a stool in a hairdressing salon and performing a basic manicure to a complete service performed on manicure tables in all beauty salons and spas offering a much higher standard with retail opportunities. It was unique to the industry. I firmly believe that education is key and that one cannot have enough training.

Q4 - Who has influenced you the most through your career?

Many many years ago my husband and I owned 2 hair and beauty salons and he suggested I learn to manicure so that I could work in the salons. So I enrolled at the famous Revlon School of manicure (which was the best at that time). That shaped my future career although I would never have known how many changes were in store for me. From then until now I have had the very good fortune to work with and meet so many people who have influenced my career and continue to do so. My sales director and best friend Mandy who has been with me for 25 years, our daughter Lisa is our managing director, daughter Danielle who is our international sales manager and has grown our Mii brand internationally to over 20 countries, our son Paul who leads our marketing department in all areas, our incredible team of over 100 both sales and head office and our wonderful clients. You have all had a massive influence on me and have helped to make my journey happy, exciting and successful.

Q5 - What was your most difficult / worst business decision?

My worst business decision was possibly not agreeing to feature on QVC when it was in its infancy many years ago but to be truthful at that time I wasn’t willing to risk our
relationship with our salons – so maybe it was the right decision. Nowadays, with the internet - all buying power and expectations have changed.

Q6 - What would you say was the single most advantageous character trait for success?
The most single advantageous character trait for success is to listen.

Q7 - What happens when you’re stressed or overwhelmed?

I never really feel that stressed but unfortunately I am a migraine sufferer so maybe that is telling me something?

Q8 - How do you invest in your own wellbeing. How do you look after yourself?

I am lucky that I love what I do and I love our industry. I never think of this as my well-being or looking after myself, but I enjoy baking, cooking, anything to do with the garden and I also play the piano. But mostly I love being with my children and

Q9 - If you could change one thing about the spa and wellness industry what would it be and why?

Change anything about the spa and wellness industry? I am lucky that we are given the time to train and re-train their teams in manicure and pedicure. The importance of retail and how to make the most of it is just an extension of homecare advice. I would like it not to be so understated and I would like the emphasis to be more on the ‘final touch’ such as nails and makeup so that the client leaves not just feeling the best she can but by looking the best she can. It is that ‘look good feel good factor’ which gives an instant uplift and should be promoted and I firmly believe that ‘retail therapy’ is part of the experience.

Q10 - Finally, What’s your favourite quote or the best advice you’ve ever been given?

My favourite quote would be ‘in sales, there is no tomorrow’ and that would also apply to life. I have always remembered that Joan Collins once stated ‘this is not a dress rehearsal’.


1. What’s your favourite book?

I really enjoy all Philippa Gregory novels about the Tudor kings and queens.

2. What’s your favourite film of all time?

I so enjoyed Pretty Woman but also loved watching Dirty Dancing. Both films are about a girl who rose from nothing to something.

3.If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?

I would love to have dinner with the Queen because I so admire her.

4. You get taken to your favourite place to be, where are you taken?

To be truthful I love my home but if I was actually asked where I would most like to go, I just love to be beside the sea preferably in a warm climate and not too far away.

5. Your perfect dinner is?

On the healthy side my perfect meal would be seared tuna. Not watching any calories then a herbed rack of lamb would be great with dauphinoise potatoes!

6. Your go to drink is?

I am known to drink a Pinot Grigio or two – but no more!!

7. Your favourite sweet treat is?

Thank goodness my sweet tooth is on its way out, but if I was asked what my favourite dessert is then I would find it hard to resist cheesecake.

8. What’s your favourite essential oil / scent?

My perfume is Clinique Aromatics Elixir and I have been wearing it for years. It is almost my trade mark.

9. You go for a treatment - what do you have and why?

I always used to do my own pedicure but now I have given the task to someone else!! I have to say it is far more enjoyable.

10. What’s your favourite flower?

I like most cottage garden flowers especially lupins, delphiniums (but unfortunately the slugs like those too) and peonies.

11. You want to sleep deeply, what do you do?

I have never slept deeply even as a child. But I rarely get tired.

12. You want to energise fast, what do you do?

I always have too much energy so I don’t need to energise fast.

13. The theme tune to your life is?

The theme tune to my life I suppose would have to be My Way??

14. What makes you laugh to your belly?

I really laugh when my family all get together and joke with each other. I also enjoy a good laugh when I read a really funny birthday card and consequently I have a stack of them at home which is often raided when the family come round.

15. What’s your favourite season?

I love the summer and the sun when it shines.

16.  What’s your favourite colour?

Coral is a warm, summer happy colour which I love.

17. Your favourite time of day is?

My favourite time of day is 3.00pm when the whole afternoon is in front of me.

18. If you could have been anyone or anything else, what / who would you be?

If I had to be anyone else it would be Estee Lauder for all that she has done for the industry and for her amazing taste.

19. What’s your current TV guilty secret?

My not so guilty secret is Corrie which I have been watching from the very first series!!! I feel I know them all.

20. Magic dust - you can learn one new skill instantly, what is it?

My magic dust skill would be horticulture of which I am self-taught but am never really sure that I know enough.

Susan Gerrard, Chairman of Gerrard International, brought Jessica to the UK over 25 years ago, when she introduced the professional market to natural nail care. She personally trained thousands of manicurists in the Jessica technique – the first of its kind for natural nail care in the country, and helped to raise the quality and status of the professional manicure. 

After helping women to achieve naturally beautiful nails, Susan wanted to give women a makeup range that would take the guesswork out of enhancing their natural beauty. In 2011 she went on to create her own cosmetics brand - Mii Cosmetics, a full makeup line including brows and tanning - for spas and salons. Mii is now available in over 700 spas and salons throughout the UK and has spread its wings to beauty lovers in 20 countries. 
In 2016, Susan was awarded the Scratch Stars Lifetime Achievement Award for her contribution to the professional beauty industry. At the ceremony, she was described as an ‘industry icon’ who, alongside her family, has built an empire that is to be admired and celebrated.

Follow Jessica Nails on Facebook and Twitter: @jessicanailsuk  / @JessicaNails 
Follow Mii Cosmetics on Facebook and Twitter: @MiiCosmetics

Want to learn more about what’s possible, practical and beneficial in the treatment room for those with chronic health conditions?

Visit the tpot website

Spa Life UK

We’re proud to be the education partner to Spa Life International

Visit Spa Life Website