Interviews, insight & analysis on Ecommerce

How we built it: Oliver Mennell, CEO and Co-Founder at NEOM

We ask Oliver Mennell of Neom to tell us how he built his brand

  • Give us the elevator pitch. Tell us about your brand.

NEOM sits at the intersection of wellbeing, beauty and lifestyle, where we see a gap in the market. We are at the fore of building the wellbeing product category, which we call the fifth pillar of beauty. 

NEOM is a disruptive brand – our innovative products are often industry firsts and harness the power of their natural ingredients to maximise efficacy and best support our customers’ lifestyles. We were developed as a digital first business, with an authentic mission to boost our customers’ wellbeing.

What inspired you to set up your company? 

I co-founded NEOM with Nicola Elliott, who was the Entertainment Editor at Glamour Magazine at the time and was looking for ways to help combat her stressful lifestyle. We were family friends and always said we’d go into business together one day. The seed money came from Nic selling her car and some savings I had from winning a Chris Evans game show! 

NEOM now sells a range of wellbeing products including essentials oils, home fragrance and personal care such as skincare, bath and body products – all with 100% natural and where possible organic ingredients. NEOM is very focused on sustainability as well and we’re in the final stages of our B Corp application and working towards being carbon positive (not just neutral) by 2030.

What was your biggest challenge in year one? 

There were so many challenges in the first year. We were doing it with only £30k of savings and had to get a supply chain set up, warehouse logistics, and a basic finance function before we sold anything. After that, from a sales perspective we needed a website, a customer care function and a way of marketing to customers. 

Doing all of this with limited funds was a huge challenge and invariably we ended up doing a lot of these functions ourselves and spinning a lot of plates. The biggest challenge of all was probably creating and manufacturing the products, as we were well ahead of our time with the concept of a natural wellbeing brand in a market that is otherwise dominated by synthetic formulas and fragrances. 

What would you say has been your biggest marketing success?

I don’t really think of things as being related to marketing success but more the things we do at NEOM to really create a deeper connection with our brand. 

I’m very proud of the community first approach we take at NEOM, which is all about helping customers take small steps to better wellbeing. We do all sorts, from live Q&A sessions with other leaders in the wellbeing space to podcasts, free yoga/breathing/meditation classes and wellbeing festivals. It all comes from a place of wanting to supercharge people’s wellbeing as a whole; we place huge value on the privileged position we’re in to support people on this journey. 

What has been the biggest mistake you made? 

From my perspective there are no regrets in business, as every mistake contains within it a valuable lesson that you wouldn’t otherwise learn. We’ve made many mistakes along the way but ultimately, we’ve built the market leading wellbeing brand in our category. 

I would say that in the early years there were lots of exciting opportunities coming to us in markets outside the UK, some of which we pursued but ultimately caused more distraction. The lesson was to really focus on going narrow and deep into the UK, which we did before expanding overseas.   

Tell us about your plans for the future?

We are extremely excited about our plans for the future, as we continue to grow strongly and look for new opportunities. We have a number of very exciting avenues for future growth, including continued innovation and new product development/category and product expansion; further capitalising on the accelerated consumer shift towards digital by using data to improve the customer experience; international expansion, both in territories where we already have a position (US) and other fast-growing markets; and increasing UK brand awareness.

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