The road to success in business is far from easy, as Deborah Mitchell discovered when she set out on a journey to launch her now iconic skincare range, Heaven.
In this exclusive interview, Deborah reveals how she created her unique brand, took the beauty industry by storm and earned a legion of celebrity fans on her way to becoming a global success.
A driving ambition was there right from the start when, aged 17, she joined Tettenhall-based hair salon Mr Nicholas.
“Although I’m a sensitive person, I’ve always been incredibly ambitious and keen to move on to bigger, better things,” explains Deborah.
And it was this ambition that pushed her to leave to set up as a mobile beautician.
“I knew what I needed to cover my mortgage and quickly picked up several clients, but because I had little money to buy products, I decided to make my own.”
Her clients were delighted with her homemade products and soon Deborah was inundated with customers.
“When I created my After Soother cream – which calmed inflamed skin – I decided to send it off to be professionally packaged. When I got the finished product back I excitedly showed my then husband, who was less than interested, so, I decided to throw him out.”
Ending her marriage meant Deborah faced new challenges.
“I couldn’t afford to pay the mortgage on my own, so I rented the house out to a lovely Chinese businessman named Henry, who shared a great deal of business knowledge with me, and moved back in with my parents.”
More motivated than ever and keen to transform her situation, Deborah began working even harder and became ever more focussed on the business.
“To focus my mind I’d often ‘imagine my mountain’; thinking about where I wanted to be and how I could achieve my goals.”
With her business expanding, Deborah needed to find a location to work from.
“I needed a treatment room, so I started treating clients at the Holiday Inn, unfortunately, the only space available was their disabled toilet.”
Despite the less than ideal treatment room, Deborah made a massive success of her time there, ultimately earning £12,000 a month before the company decided to run the operation themselves.
In 1998 Deborah married her current husband, Chris Cox – the son of one of her former clients at Mr Nicholas – and moved to Oaken. The couple later had two children, Ella and Christopher.
“I opened my salon in Shifnal as I was about to give birth to my second child, I renovated the building but I couldn’t afford to install a staircase. Although my father-in-law offered to lend me the money, I refused, knowing that facing difficult situations always made me come out fighting.”
In fact, Deborah thrived on the challenge:
“I managed without a staircase for some time and when I finally could afford one, it was incredibly rewarding.”
And there were similar challenges to come.
“The handmade bottles, used for one of my early products, leaked in transit to Hong Kong. I purchased new packaging but again didn’t have enough money, so I re-mortgaged the house I rented out in Newport, bought a cheap house in Wellington and then re-mortgaged again to raise funds.”
The investment was worth it, as Victoria Beckham took notice of Deborah’s brand and became a massive fan.
“I was working at Beatties, doing treatments and selling my products from there – in fact I was supplying 16 of their stores. My brand was the highest earning on their beauty department, pulling in £10,000 a week, and Victoria Beckham often phoned up to purchase my products.”
Deborah’s Age Defiance cream was now gaining a massive following.
“The formula contains hydrochloric acid – effective at both treating spots and giving the skin a youthful look – so teenagers looked better and adults looked like teenagers.”
Business was booming but, as a result of carrying out so many treatments, Deborah injured her wrist.
“Obviously my hands are massively important, so at the time I insured them for £100,000. Now they’re insured for £15million, half the pro rata turnover of the business.”
The Heaven name was starting to become known internationally and Deborah was invited to Dubai by a buyer.
“The buyer purchased £5,000 worth of products and paid for my flight. During that week in Dubai I made huge progress and was really able to take the brand forward.”
Premature ageing of the skin is inevitable for those living in a country that has an incredibly hot and humid climate, so when Deborah’s incredible anti-ageing range hit the market, it was a phenomenal success.
“On immediate contact with the skin my products make a remarkable difference to dehydrated, sun damaged skin, so everyone was interested.”
As a result, Heaven even caught the attention of the royal family of Dubai.
Back at home Deborah maintained the pace and continued to make products and promote the brand. And, it wasn’t only the royal family of Dubai that were keen to find out more about Heaven.
“I had a phone call inviting me to Buckingham Palace to do a treatment for the Duchess of Cornwall, she was really impressed with the results and asked me to come back again.”
“Whilst I was treating Camilla I noticed that I had a prominent frown line and decided I needed to do something about it.”
Not keen to opt for Botox, Deborah instead decided to create her own solution.
“I focussed my mind that evening and woke up in the morning with an idea; bee venom.”
Deborah’s sister kept bees, so she headed straight to the hive.
“There I found abeetoxin, a botulism toxin, which would relax the facial muscles.”
Along with Royal Jelly, another natural product found in the hive, Deborah created the product that she’s become best known for.
Not only did the treatment serve to fight the tell-tale signs of ageing but it also nourished and illuminated the skin.
“My clients loved it, Camilla tried the treatment and she was really impressed too.”
Deborah perfected the formula and her clients reported even more benefits from the product than expected.
“It wasn’t just proving to be an alternative to Botox, it was also healing skin and conquering allergies.”
Clients noticed their scars disappeared and they were able to keep breakouts at bay.
“Gwyneth Paltrow started asking questions about bee venom and Victoria Beckham wanted to know why I hadn’t given her the product yet. Meanwhile I was still regularly treating the royal family.”
Even the press noticed that the Duchess of Cornwall was looking better than ever and they contacted the palace for comment.
“When I saw that the press had got hold of the story, I knew it hadn’t come from me. It turned out that the palace had told them – as they never lie to reporters – so soon it became well known that I was doing the treatments.”
Everyone wanted a piece of the action and soon there were many copycat companies trying to recreate Deborah’s revolutionary product.
Even more interest developed in the Heaven brand and Deborah received a call from a buyer in China who wanted to buy her products.
“It turned out that the buyers’ father was the CEO of Shiseido. I was able to strike-up a lucrative deal with them, thanks to the skills I learned from Henry.”
And Deborah’s products would make an appearance in hundreds of countries across the world in the years that followed.
“I was looking out of the window of my Marina Plaza office in Dubai when I remembered ‘my mountain’. Although I’m somewhere near to where I wanted to be, I still feel that I’m only on the first step as there’s still plenty more to do.”
As passionate as ever about the business, Deborah has recently created an exciting product using Heaven’s latest Prism Light Defiance TechnologyTM – Prism Age Defiance Cream, to help improve the DNA of the skin structure, boosting collagen and elastin to protect against UV rays that come from sunlight as well as infra-red (IR) light from computer, tablet and phone screens (VIS).
“My latest product is perhaps the greatest I’ve ever created. It’s a natural sun filter – that’s organic and completely free of chemicals.”
Never before has the skincare industry seen a product that is activated when it comes into contact with spectrums of light.
“The cream is a revolutionary anti-ageing moisturiser that generates smoother, tighter skin and reverses the signs of sun damage, something we never thought we could change!”
As with all of Deborah’s products the results are amazing. Prism Technology even has its own App that can be downloaded using your mobiles light to create a home facial. Available from the App Store and Google Play.
Thanks to Deborah and her outstanding range of products, we can all hold back the years and enjoy looking younger for longer.