Unlike many entrepreneurs, Cindy Luken doesn’t have much space for romanticism in her business:
“Basically, I stated this business [lük beautifood] because I wanted another business and I thought this could make money and fit around my life.”
It’s a bold and ambitious statement but, when you consider Cindy’s experience and pedigree, it is easy to see she has something of a magic touch.
From a degree in food science, Cindy tumbled into the world of catering and has numerous claims to fame, including cooking for Princess Diana and Prince Charles and taking credit for developing Sara Lee’s Sticky Date Pudding. She was also the founder of the internationally successful biscuit company Luken & May, which cemented her reputation as one of the country’s inspiring female entrepreneurs.
It would be easy to think that something has been sacrificed on this journey to greatness, but Cindy has always been a firm believer in maintaining a work-life balance, eventually selling off the biscuit business to focus on being a mum.
“The most important thing was being there for my children, giving them the support and the confidence they need for the future,” she says. “When I started this new business I was determined that it would fit around my children, not the other way around.”
Enter Luk Beauti Food, an online business focused on promoting the idea of natural beauty by using food to create make-up products – “it’s not a traditional beauty business,” she stresses. “It’s about nourishment and ensuring people are aware of what goes in and on their bodies.”
It may seem a seismic leap for a food scientist and biscuit queen, but Luk Beauti Food is still grounded in Cindy’s life-long interest in food and her firm belief that the right ingredients can make us beautiful inside and out.
“We know the link between eating food and health, so it seems obvious that if we care for our bodies on the inside we need to start feeding our skin outside in,” this enthusiastic mother of two explains. “And I happened to get the opportunity to see lipstick being made and realised what a simple and cheap process it was.”
While the potential of this lucrative idea was quick to accost Cindy, she didn’t leap straight in, developing her product for four years before launching it “very quietly” September 2012. The website – a combination of online store, recipe index and beauty blog – followed in August 2013 and has since grown in size and audience.
“I am usually all for grabbing opportunities and seizing the moment,” she laughs, “but there were other things going on that slowed the process down, so I took my time with this” she admits.
Those ‘other things’ were caring for two young children, partaking in an extended holiday on a barge in France, and the arranging for her product to be manufactured to her specific requirements at a specialist in Melbourne. Plus there was Cindy’s strict regime to insure the family always came first.
“I am still very strict about the time the business takes up,” she says. “If I want a holiday, I take a holiday.”
That isn’t to say the business doesn’t absorb multitudes of Cindy’s voluminous supplies of energy, not to mention an emotional commitment that gives her product an appeal in this undeveloped corner of the market.
Cindy seems poised for success with the unique combination of nutrition, make up and healthy eating that will certainly tap into the current need for organic produce and an increased awareness in what we use and eat.
But success is perhaps measured in a different way for Cindy. Yes she is looking to turn a profit – she doesn’t shy away from admitting she chose her product with profitability in mind – but a real achievement would be securing those two elusive attributes that drive us all: freedom and choice.
“I want to be a position to have freedom and to have choices – that’s why I went into business in the first place,” she says.
“This is not a hobby – I want to make money, and money buys you freedom. And isn’t that what we all want?”
Visit her site at www.lukbeautifood.com.
What one piece of advice would you give?
It’s hard to give just one! I’d say, build a profitable business model before you start. However much passion and enthusiasm you have, the numbers have to stack up.
What has been the most unexpected aspect of the process of starting a business?
A business makes you feel fabulous – from the people you meet, to those you inspire and all that you achieve.
What has been the best thing to come out of the process so far?
The potential/opportunity of “healthifying’ the beauty industry. I never foresaw that there would be such a massive swing and online support/conversation to ditch toxins in personal care products and therefore position mainstream beauty products as not being sensitive to a woman’s true beauty and what is important to her.
What has been the biggest challenge?
Running a business is one of the hardest things you can do, other than motherhood!
What do you think has allowed you to be successful?
It sounds strange, but I have always looked after myself – I have the right nourishment which has given me a good physique, I am sporty, and this gives me confidence. It also enables me to balance the stress of a situation so it doesn’t get overwhelming.
I also know how to say no, and how to follow the path that is right for me.
What keeps you going when it gets tough?
One of my biggest motivators is to make this business successful so I can get back on the speaking circuit and say “ladies…you CAN do whatever YOU WANT.” The online world has changed the way we shop and share, it’s facilitating a new way of working, make the most of it. What are you waiting for? We also have a mad dream to take a year off in 2017, pull the kids out of school and tour around Australia. My business needs to accommodate the vision.
I’m Ingrid Thompson and thank you for reading this post.
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