"Success is about learning to juggle and manage all parts of your life," says Fiona McIntosh, Creative Director and Co-Founder of , and former Editor-in-chief of ELLE magazine.
Hers is a story many working women (in particular working mothers) can relate to. Building a career, raising two daughters, and trying to look vaguely presentable at the same time.
It was this balancing act that lead Fiona to launch blow LTD. The concept was simple. blow LTD would be the Uber of the beauty world, providing salon experts to your door, as and when you need them. Pedicure in your kitchen while you eat breakfast? Sorted. After-work massage in the comfort of your own home? Done.
The idea seems so obvious, we wonder why we didn’t think it up first. But we didn’t, Fiona did. GLAMOUR finds out more.
My lucky break was at the beginning of my career
"I discovered journalism very young." Fiona tells us. "After leaving school, I was offered an apprenticeship at a Melbourne newspaper that I could complete alongside my degree. I think that was my luckiest break ever."
Fiona went on to forge a career as a newspaper journalist, before being appointed editor of magazine titles Company and ELLE. However, the peak of her journalism career was launching Grazia. "That was a huge highlight for me." Fiona reflects.
She never anticipated what would happen next.
Starting my own business wasn’t the plan
The idea for blow LTD came to Fiona while attending New York Fashion Week. "There are these blow dry bars that you just walk into, get a fast, professional service, and leave 30 minutes later. I wondered why we didn’t have something similar in London, but for all beauty treatments – not just hair." It wasn’t until Fiona met Dharmash Mistry (her future business partner) who had also spotted this gap in the market that the concept for blow LTD was truly born.
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blow LTD is for people who don’t have time
As a working mother of two, Fiona is all too aware of the time restraints women have. She quickly realised that if blow LTD was going to be a success, it needed to be available on-demand.
"The vast majority of blow LTD's clients are working women," Fiona tells us, "and 47% of our services are requested outside of working hours. It proves just how busy women are. We aren’t able to cram any more into our working day, so treatments have to be available either side of it."
Since its launch in 2013, blow LTD has gone from strength to strength, and is now leader in the UK for beauty services, with plans to expand internationally in the near future. But Fiona claims the company’s success is not all down to her.
I’m comfortable doing what I know
"I couldn’t do what our tech team does in a million years," Fiona admits humbly. "And I would feel massively out of my comfort zone if I had to." Luckily for her, she doesn’t. Thanks to what Fiona describes as a ‘yin and yang’ relationship with her co-founder Dharmash, business is covered and Fiona can focus on what she does best. The creative.
Raising daughters is the real challenge
For Fiona, success sits beyond her career. "The fact that I’ve built a brand from scratch does bring me happiness, however it’s how I fit that into my life as a whole that matters." She admits that it isn’t easy for mothers. "I think women are kidding themselves if they think you don’t compromise your career by having kids, because you do. You have to learn to juggle family and work, and that’s not easy."
As a mother of two daughters aged 15 and 18, Fiona is more invested then most when it comes to advising the next generation of working women.
Women shouldn’t stop working
"I brought my daughters up to know how important it is to be financially independent, in whatever they choose to do. It’s so important for their own self-worth."
Fiona doesn’t think it’s likely her daughters will follow in her editorial footsteps, and she’s certainly not disappointed. "I actually don’t know what advice to give girls going into journalism today. There are so many options and routes available, and it’s a lot tougher than it used to be. Now you need to create a personal brand and profile, have a fantastic social media presence, and be able to work across visual and have a tone of voice that appeals to people."
And what about her own ambitions? Has Fiona reached the final rung on her extraordinary career ladder? It seems not. "I’ve never stopped working, and to be honest, I don’t think I ever will."
At least now she can fit in the occasional treatment as well.
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