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The Interview: Millie Kendall and David Walker-Smith on the launch of British Beauty Week 2023

Sophie Smith
26 October 2023

British Beauty Week kicks off today, with events taking place from 26-31 October to shine a spotlight on the UK’s £25 billion beauty sector and the brands within it.

In this interview with, Millie Kendall OBE, CEO of the British Beauty Council and David Walker-Smith, British Beauty Week ambassador speak all about this year's celebration, its highlight moments and what they hope it will achieve.

British Beauty Week brings together brands, consumers, press and policymakers to highlight the influence of British beauty brands in the UK and overseas via a selection of in-person and digital events.

The objective is to drive growth and awareness among consumers, whilst also strengthening the reputation of the UK beauty industry with businesses and government. "We really want people to celebrate and acknowledge the benefits of the industry, its workforce, products, innovation and businesses," says Kendall.

"The aim is to celebrate British beauty globally and support business growth and innovation," adds Walker-Smith.

This year's celebration will focus on "The Power of Beauty" to engage with the industry across three key themes - Talent, Growth and ESG.

"We are representing these pillars through the activities taking place across the week, with many of our patrons and partners offering content that really showcases these themes," highlights Kendall.

To help strategise British Beauty Week 2023, the British Beauty Council appointed former Selfridges Executive Beauty Director and Fenwick Managing Director Walker-Smith as its first ambassador earlier this year.

"I’ve always wanted to work with Millie and was delighted to be asked. We worked together with the British Beauty Council team on the overall concept for British Beauty Week, The Power of Beauty, that both reinforces the council's pillars and engages the brands, surprising and delighting customers. I’ve loved it and learned a lot. I hope to be around next year too," says Walker-Smith.

"It’s wonderful to have a British Beauty Week ambassador this year, David has made the entire event much more well rounded and he really thinks like a retailer which I love," adds Kendall.

British Beauty Week 2023 kicks off with Wellcome Collection, which has now opened a new exhibition called 'The Cult of Beauty'. Featuring over 200 items, including historical objects, artworks, films and new commissions, the showcase considers the influence of morality, status, health, age, race and gender on the evolution of ideas about beauty.

The exhibition is free and open to the public from today, 26 October 2023 and extends past British Beauty Week until 28 April 2024.

Other physical activities will be primarily focused in and around London’s West End, with a spotlight 'Beauty Night Out' taking place this evening, from 5-8pm.

This will boast an extravaganza of beauty experiences, masterclasses, demonstrations and one-off events from businesses including MAC Cosmetics, Kiehl's, Too Faced, Aesop, Neal's Yard Remedies, Benefit Cosmetics and Boots.

"We have some amazing brand participation this year. I am particularly excited about seeing some of the Beauty Night Out events," enthuses Kendall. "The Beauty Night Out will be celebrated up and down the country with late night shopping activity at various retailers, as well as focusing on London’s Covent Garden for a real experience across the estate's beauty brands and retailers."

British Beauty Week has also opened a Trade Hub in Covent Garden, powered by Space NK, which is hosting a series of free panel discussions around key issues - such as sustainability, diversity, aesthetics licensing and the importance of responsible content creation - with various industry speakers.

Another element to the week is activity around the UK’s biggest beauty brands, with exclusive content profiling the unique people working in their businesses, engaging with young people to offer mentoring opportunities. This includes the chance to spend time with renowned makeup artist and British Beauty Council ambassador, Bobbi Brown, on a webinar designed to uncover her journey to beauty mogul.

"The Unboxing British Beauty concept aims to give students and young people the chance to access behind the scenes content from those working in the industry, whilst the panel talks are designed to really inspire the industry to be better and do better," finishes Kendall.

The full schedule for British Beauty Week 2023 is available here. 

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