Inspirational Woman: Hannah Russell | Founder & CEO, Glowday

Hannah Russell Hannah Russell, 39 year old mum-of-two, is founder and CEO of new Glowday – launched in August.

Dubbed the ‘Airbnb of aesthetics’, Glowday links consumers with stellar aesthetics practitioners who are certified doctors, nurses, dentists or specially trained pharmacists.

Just like Airbnb consumers can find, review and compare practitioners and clinics, as well as view the availability of the one they choose, and book appointments instantly.  Previously a Science teacher, Hannah created Glowday after having a ‘lightbulb moment’ which searching for her own Botox practitioner. Having trawled the internet and contacted many therapists, she realised there was a gap in the market for a one-stop-shop for consumers looking to book aestheticians, who were medically qualified.

Tell us a bit about yourself, background and your current role

I’m from a small mining village in South Wales.  I have two children and have been with my husband, Joby, for 21 years.

I am an ex-Science teacher.  And whilst I miss the buzz of being in the classroom with 30 teenagers, I’m glad I missed the homeschooling/exam result fiasco of 2020!

Currently, I am the CEO of Glowday.  I founded Glowday in 2018, he joined me in 2019 and we launched in July 2020…during the pandemic!

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

I did.  And if that plan had actually come into fruition, I’d currently be the Headteacher of a secondary school somewhere.

Up until I had my first child at 29, I had stuck to my plan.  Degree, Masters, PGCE, work in a tough school where opportunities for learning and progression were abundant, gain promotions, etc.  I worked my way to Head of Department and Head of Year positions fairly quickly.

And then I became a mum.  100% mum for 2 years and I loved it.  It felt like I was doing what I was meant to be doing.  My career ground to a halt as I was physically and emotionally not ready to return to work.

For those first two years I was totally fulfilled.  And slowly but surely, I began yearning for something else.  I returned to work.  Into a more junior role, as I’d been “out of the system” for a couple of years, so my confidence had taken a bit of a knock and I was an older, more expensive teacher with other commitments, so a less attractive hire.  Balancing teaching and a family is no mean feat.  People have this idea that the holidays make up for it, but I can honestly say, teaching is all encompassing during term time.  And when I had Will a year or so later, something had to give, so I went parttime.

By this point, my husband’s career had accelerated, we had kind of found ourselves in this old-fashioned set up where he was breadwinner and I was part time teacher/pot washer/bum wiper.  We then moved to Australia for my husband to set up Purplebricks.  So I followed him, thus further derailing my teaching career completely.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

The biggest challenge of my adult life was being in a gorgeous house in beautiful Sydney!  Poor old me!

I was there supporting Joby in realising his ambitions and dreams, not my own.  And, in reality, since having children, I had really taken the hit career-wise, willingly at first, then more out of necessity following that.

With this came resentment and frustration.

I spent my days cooking, cleaning and ferrying my kids to various activities.  I’d finish my day tired, irritable and dejected and Joby would get home from work enthused, buzzing and fulfilled.  It’s like we were living two separate realities in the same house.

Daisy, my eldest, was also struggling with our move, and after speaking to a psychologist about it, I made the decision to come back to the UK.  I can honestly say, apart from the birth of my two children, getting that plane from Abu Dhabi to the UK was one of the happiest moments of my life!  I don’t think Joby feels the same!

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Achievements are tricky to quantify and own.  Much of what I have achieved is primarily down to others believing in my vision, coming along with me for the ride, directing and advising me and forcing me to enjoy the view when necessary.

This collective effort is why I am hugely proud of building Glowday.  We have gone from an idea, to having a business that generates revenue, whilst creating a really positive place for people to work and creating a brand that clinics and practitioners are proud to be associated with.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success? 

There is one key factor which has contributed to my current position and it’s not having a safety net during my teens/twenties.

I vividly remembering, at around age 14, working out what I would need to earn to move out.  I looked in the back of the South Wales Evening Post to find out how much a car would cost, how much a flat would cost and worked out a budget.

Neither Joby nor I have had any help from family.  Emotionally, financially or in terms of advice and guidance.  At the time, it felt unfair and harsh, but now, Joby and I are each other’s support network.  We are a pretty solid ecosystem.  The stability we get from each other emotionally and the financial stability we have made for our family allows us to focus on Glowday without distraction.

That and the fact that I am an unrelenting pain in the arse until I achieve what I set out to achieve.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee?

In my previous life as a teacher, mentoring was a huge part of what I did.  Not only for the students I was teaching, but also, for student teachers who were in the PGCE or NQT years.  I found it a great way to not only help pass on what I had learned, but also, to inform, challenge and improve my own teaching.

I think women naturally, informally, mentor others in their circle.  I know that I take advice and guidance from friends and colleagues, about all aspects of life, parenting, work, everything.

Regarding, being a mentor in business, I suppose I feel like I’m in that funny place as a first-time founder, where I don’t feel I have sufficient experience to mentor anyone, but I would love the opportunity to be mentored by a more experienced female founder.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

I think these changes begin at home and they begin with challenging the norms set by how you were raised.

The model Joby and I had was, mum at home, cooking and cleaning, dad out working, making the financial decisions.  This is what we fell into when we first had children, because it is what we knew.  This model means that mums feel disproportionate and pernicious levels of guilt when they return to work, in a way that men just don’t.  It takes a huge amount of willpower and the willingness for all involved to battle this.  So, more children seeing mums work, make decisions, stand their ground and seeing dads pull their weight around the home and do the grunt work that typically falls to women is necessary to build the foundations of gender equality.

I’m also hopeful that the acceleration into working from home and the wholesale adoption of video calling due to the pandemic, means that women don’t have to step out of the workplace when they have children, because the workplace is no longer a place.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self what would it be?

Good enough is good enough!

I had a tendency to strive for perfection all of the time.  Then I had a pretty serious car accident in 2018 and it knocked that out of me, pretty much over night!

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future?

The next challenge is to continue to build supply side on Glowday whilst starting to put the marketing wheels in motion to generate demand.  We have that typical marketplace “chicken and egg” scenario which is a tricky one to crack.

By the end of 2020, my aim is to have over 600 clinics on Glowday and have launched a national TV marketing campaign, raising awareness of the necessity to choose medically-qualified aesthetic practitioners for Botox and fillers.

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