Sophie Watson on working for LUSH

After three years of travelling, I returned to the UK and decided to move to Bristol. I was looking for work and I saw that LUSH Cribbs Causeway was hiring. I’d always been a fan of the brand and thought it would be a good fit.

In just two weeks of working at LUSH, I felt incredibly valued and knew it was the working environment for me. I’d never been in a role where I was given all the tools and support to be the best I could be.

Wild card

I have been a store manager since April 2018 and some would say I had quite the eventful progression within the company.

A few weeks into my Christmas temporary sales role, I applied for a trainee manager position, as the store was relocating to a bigger unit within the shopping centre. After a competitive recruitment process, I was successful.

That is one thing I have always valued highly within LUSH; you don’t have to work your way up like more traditional centralised career progressions. If you can demonstrate you’re the perfect person for the job (even if you have only worked for the business for a couple of weeks) then you might be right for the position.

My manager and at the time, and now close friend, always described me as her ‘wild card’ as I was so fresh to the company.

Making a move

After working for LUSH as a trainee manager for a year-and-a-half, the store manager vacancy in Brighton became available. It definitely caught my eye. I’ve never entirely been fixed to one place and always been quite opportunistic. I’m definitely a right place at the right time sort of individual.

Brighton definitely seemed like the right place and two years on, it still is. The sense of community here is so tangible, and while the beach and sea views are incredible, it’s the people that make it the amazing place it is.

Giving back to the community

My job is unlike any other retail leadership position I’ve ever had. As the manager of my store, I have a lot of autonomy around the shape and direction my business takes. My day to day job involves a lot of community management and engagement, whether this is with a local grassroots group, collective or our local council.

One of the values I try to live by is to be a keystone species, giving more back to the local environment than you take – an orangutan is a great example of this!

Read more: Why volunteering is so worthwhile

My work involves a lot of reaching out and liaising with other groups, creating lasting working relationships and planning events. For example, we held an immersive experience in February of this year with the Gatwick Detainee Welfare Group. This is an organisation that supports those held in detention at Gatwick airport and campaigns against the fact that the UK is the only country within Europe that can hold people in detention indefinitely.

What I love about working for LUSH

The job involves all of the above, combined with the day to day running of a retail business. I’m very grateful to be surrounded by an incredibly talented and capable team who are involved with every aspect of our business. We like to run our shop like a collective where everyone’s input is valued. The success of our store comes entirely down the individuals within it who are so passionate about the brand and our ability to positively impact the lives of people within our local community.

Working for LUSH, I love that I have real autonomy on how to shape my business. Every manager at LUSH really gets to create a vision for their store and are given the space to make it happen. I’ve never had a leadership role with such trust that allows me to be the best leader I can be.

I really enjoy recruiting and finding great people to join our team. Our recruitment process allows people to celebrate and be their true authentic selves which means we have a really vibrant working atmosphere.

My go-to LUSH product

My favourite LUSH product is Candy Rain Conditioner. It is the richest and most conditioning hair product that leaves your hair feeling in the best shape and smelling so sweet.

Looking after the environment

We started the plastic grabs in autumn 2019. This followed from a feeling of desperation within the team from the summer where the beach was covered in litter. We decided to make it a daily practice in the store and within everyone’s working week that 20 minutes would be spent on the beach picking up trash.

We then started to collaborate with an incredible beach clean group here in Brighton called Pier2Pier founded by Amy Gibson, who ran bi-monthly public silent disco beach cleans. The public was encouraged to get out onto the beach and, whilst having a good boogie, clean up our local seafront. It’s an incredible initiative that really shows the power within community action, and through a shared responsibility we can all see a collected benefit.

 

This also allowed our store to showcase the wide range of packaging-free options we have as a brand; from solid shampoo to facial serums and even plastic packaging-free shower gels! It’s been wonderful to connect such a positive action with education on how small changes within your day to day can have a big impact.

A shampoo bar is an equivalent to 80 to 100 washes and approximately three 250g bottles of shampoo. That’s a lot of plastic you as an individual can save with this alternative.

Amplifying black voices

I’d love to take this opportunity to amplify the voices of some incredible black women in Brighton that I’ve had the opportunity to work with over the last few months.

Aflo The Poet (@aflo.thepoet) and Priss Nash (@prissnashpoetry) have recently written and produced an incredible Black Lives Matter film called WAKE UP, which is a spoken word performance on peaks and troughs they’ve felt through the world rising up for the BLM Movement, only to being disengaged now it’s stopped ‘trending’. It’s a film I believe everyone should watch (trigger warning: it does showcase police brutality and loss of black lives).

As a store, we have made a commitment to be the best allies we can be so are showcasing local black creatives in our store with our artist residency space through our collaboration with The Seigfried Collective (@seigfried.co). We want to use every opportunity we have to amplify black voices and all impacted through systemic racism. 

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