Many women of a particular generation will hear the name "Trinny" and will be met with a raft of positive memories and emotions. As one half of the "Trinny and Susannah" duo, she graced our television screens while delivering hard truths about outfits, always in a kind manner that left the women she (literally) touched - and all of us at home - feeling infinitely more confident and inspired about the power of an outfit.
Now, Trinny Woodall has turned her eye for entrepreneurialism to makeup – her first love. “Makeup is the first thing that women see in a makeover and I found that from 15 years of giving women makeovers, the huge impact it has on a woman’s confidence,” she said.
And in a market that is certainly not quiet, Trinny has managed to carve out a whole new space of her own. “I witnessed so many women get it stuck in a rut with makeup and how much it aged them,” she said, “Because a woman feels aged when she looks in the mirror and feels tired – and I think I will do everything to encourage women to find ways to feel fresh and energetic.”
Which is precisely what she has created with TRINNY LONDON – personal makeup kits to help women feel their best. “In a quest for the perfect tone and consistency, I would mix a stick foundation with a liquid, blend a lip tint with a gloss… I mushed up colours and decanted them into little pots. And then I thought, ‘there has to be a better way’,” Trinny said. And there was her niche: a portable, versatile range of makeup, with colours to suit every woman.
Having had the pleasure of testing the range over the past few weeks, I can confirm that TRINNY LONDON is so much more than just another makeup range. In fact, the little pots of colour have become the easy, dewy, glowing, flattering favourites in my arsenal. (The Honor Lip Glow deserves an honourable mention, in particular.)
We spoke to Trinny about the range, what led her to where she is today, and found out that when she’s stressed, we can find her organising her closet …
Can you tell us a little bit about your childhood? Where did you grow up and what was your childhood like?
I grew up the youngest of six children of which there were two families but we mainly were in one family and I always felt slightly lonely at home because my brother and sister went very early to boarding school when I was still about 3 or 4 and I went to boarding school when I was about 6 and a half so I don’t have a huge amount of home memories of my home like because I was spending half of it at a boarding school.
What drew you into fashion? And did you always also have an interest in beauty?
I’ve always loved fashion and beauty. I’ve loved fashion because I would find myself over the years of my career in industries where I had to dress well but I didn’t have the budget to do it so I was always thinking how can I take high street and change the buttons and take up the trouser and cut up a piece of fabric and make it look like a better-crafted garment. And in skincare and makeup, I had very bad acne 13-30 so was always after the cure and the way for my skin to look cleared up.
Many (if not most) women of a certain generation feel like we know you oh-so-well from Trinny & Susannah. What is it like to have hordes of women worldwide who feel like they know you? Does it ever get tiring?
It’s one of the most joyful things in my life actually, especially since I stopped doing ‘What Not To Wear’ and I had my own Instagram feed women feel they can approach me more and if I’m in an airport or down a high street and a woman comes up and she’s got a smile on her face it kind of never gets tiring.
Tell us about the launch of Trinny London. Why makeup?
Makeup is the first thing that women see in a makeover and I found that from 15 years of giving women makeovers, the huge impact it has on a woman’s confidence. And also by witnessing so many women get it stuck in a rut with makeup and how much it did age them as a woman – because a woman feels aged when she looks in the mirror and feels tired – and I think I will do everything to encourage women to find ways that they feel fresh and energetic.
Why now? After carving out such a successful career for yourself, did you still feel an entrepreneurial itch?
100% because when you do TV even though you are self-employed, you’re always the pest of somebody else. Starting your own business there’s a greater sense of responsibility but you have the ability to steer the ship far better.
What is the ethos behind Trinny London? In a market that is so crowded, you’ve managed to carve out such a beautiful, meaningful space.
That we are more than just a beauty brand, we are a way of life and a different way of thinking about yourself as a woman and the biggest thing we can do as a business is change the way a woman feels about herself and not just about the way she looks.
We love the stacking concept. Can you talk us through how this works?
Basically, you buy every single category of make-up in a singular part and they stack together. Some women’s stacks are towers and they carry around 6 or 7 of their pots. Other women are minimalists and they might just have a foundation, and a Lip2Cheek and a lip glow and they’ve nearly got their whole face. Most of our products are multi-purpose so you could be putting your cheek product on your eye and your lip product on your cheek and we love the idea that the formulas and the fact that they are cream-based allow a woman to feel that she can be her own makeup artist.
What does a typical make up look for you on a day-to-day basis, if there is one?
Yeah, there’s probably one where it is dominated by blusher because I think that blusher makes a woman look her freshest more than putting on a fake-tan and usually it would be quite a fresh lip it would be the colour of my lips but with a little bit more oomph in a sort of shimmer. And my eyes it would be something to bring out the colour blue, so it might be a slightly neutral shade with no eyeliner and with a good, strong brow.
Can you share with us how social media plays a role in the brand today, and how it played a role in building it originally?
I think building it originally it was a great way to discover an old audience who didn’t know where I was and create a new audience of people who just bought into my attitude to life and from that in a way that audience went on a journey with me as I got Trinny London ready to launch so by the time I launched there was an instant audience who had kind of understood the concepts of my belief system so they felt this is a range just developed for them and there was a very quick buy into the range and then they told their friends who told their friends so I think social media was fantastic in reclaiming an old audience and finding a new one and today social media accounts for over 50% of our sales because over 50% of our sales are organic through YouTube, Facebook, Instagram.
Do you ever feel overwhelmed by social media? Do you create boundaries for yourself?
No, I don’t. I’m quite disciplined about it. I hardly ever look at other people’s social media and I think when social media can be negative – you can go down this wormhole and kind of you look at somebody and you ponder … and I just sort of don’t do that because I haven’t really got time to do that anyway. So basically, my posts go up and I’ll probably spend 20 minutes to half an hour after they’ve gone up just answering some comments. 2 hours later I might just go and sit on the loo and then just answer a few more comments and then on my own Instagram I do answer all the comments and even though it’s grown a lot and the comments become more, it keeps me in touch with who my customer is and who my audience is and if I know
every day I read a few hundred comments I have a real sense of what women are lacking, missing and loving.
What does a typical workday fashion look like for you today?
Right now, I’m wearing a suit from Camilla and Marc, one of my favourite Australian brands, fantastically cut, everyone compliments me on this suit. I was interviewed by the head of Facebook and she was like “Where did you get that suit?”. I’m wearing it with stacked white trainers from Hogan. They’re the most comfortable trainers, I bought them a size too big which means they are very roomy on a day my feet feel swollen and I travel in them a lot. I’m wearing a River Island white shirt and I’m wearing a Giambattista Valli for H&M, leopard coat that I cut the collar out of and that look is my look, it’s a mixture, it’s sort of sportswear luxe, kind of. I like things tailored; I don’t like floaty.
How do you approach dressing each morning?
I generally think about how I feel and if it’s a dark, rainy, horrible day, I’ll definitely try and wear my brightest colours, because I think the weather can, especially in England, unlike Australia can really affect your mood. I think there is a tendency when it’s horrible weather you wear black but it’s like the day you should least wear black and so I tend to wear dark colours, if I ever wear them, on days when it’s summery and shiny and bright. They have a huge effect on my mood and I probably, in the morning, I’ll choose my outfit first and then I’ll do my makeup and decide on my makeup because of the outfit. In the evening I will look at my face and look how tired I am and see what makeup is going to make me the freshest and from that, I’ll choose my outfit.
Did becoming a mother change the way you viewed your career? Or changed how you approached your work?
Very much so. I think I learnt that a little bit earlier or I remembered the lessons I saw because when Susannah had babies throughout our career, and I couldn’t quite understand why she couldn’t get in at 8.15 in the morning every morning when she was breastfeeding. When I then had Lyla I remembered everything Susannah had told me and that really helped me to get a sense of balance and to know that she is the most important thing in my life, sometimes she will call me during the day insentiently, but I’ll try and always be there for her before anything else. She knows the importance of work, she would never want me to not work and not do what I do actually, and I’ve asked her a couple of times, and she says “What else would you do. You love it. What else would you do?” But you sometimes just want that reassurance from your child that all those classic, cliched thoughts you might have of an absent mother actually don’t exist because we are a tight unit Lyla and I and we are 1000 x closer than my mother and I were.
Do you experience mother’s guilt? If so, how do you deal with it?
I experience it rarely. I experienced it more when she was younger and I was flying abroad to do TV shows, but I also knew it was the only work I could get, and I had to pay the bills.
How do you decompress and destress? Do you have any vices?
I compulsively tidy my wardrobe. Sometimes. I find it very very relaxing, just kind of anally putting things in order and I think the more my head is in disorder and I’ve got too many spinning plates, the more I just want something that I know I can 100% control the presentation and the order of. So, I do like doing that. Other times I have a meditation that I do with somebody and I record the meditations and I play them again in the back of a cab or when I’m feeling wound up or upset or not being able to think clearly and that really helps me.
Where are some of your top places to shop today?
The Outnet, Matches, Vestiaire Collective, Zara and my wardrobe.
What’s on your current list of loves today?
- Zero recipes, because I don’t cook.
- My Wardrobe Malfunction which is a great new podcast from my partner Susannah, very funny, super guests.
- I’m loving going on Vestiaire Collective and finding things that are secondhand that I can love again because I’ve woken up to the fact that I really don’t give a shit about what’s in fashion, I just want to feel cool in myself. So, it doesn’t mean I have to buy what’s in fashion ever again. What a relief. I don’t think anyone else needs to either actually.
- I love the fact that I invented something that I love and value using on a daily basis which is Trinny London Stack because it makes life so much easier and I never forget that every single day that I’m anywhere on a commute and I’m doing my makeup in 2 minutes and I’m thinking I never would’ve been able to do this before I’d started the business. So, I love that.
- I love the fact that I got a laptop again after a while of not having one because I had an iPad Pro and I love the fact that recently I bought a mini iPad as well and I love the fact that I have a second phone. These are all really weird electronic things. I like the fact that I have a second phone because when I’m inpatient and something won’t load on one phone or I’m sending photographs yet again to someone on my social media team or they take my phone because they need it for something, I have another phone I can use! Because I spend a lot of my time using every element of my phone. All my notes from every meeting are on my phone. I could literally live my life by it, so I don’t see it as an addiction, I think how difficult it would’ve been to fit what I fit into my day if I didn’t have the technology of what a phone provides to me.