Inspirational Woman: Sophie Hughes | Founder & CEO, glowb

Sophie Hughes Sophie Hughes is a British plus-size model and Founder of skincare brand, glowb.

After her nephew spent months on the transplant list Sophie stepped forward, flew 10,000 miles from Australia, agreed to donate part of her liver and then went on to launch her skincare brand, glowb.

First launched back in 2020, glowb turned over £2.1 million in the first 12 months and Sophie has since seen her company continue to grow into a successful empire.

Although physically and mentally gruelling, both made a full recovery and post-procedure Sophie’s weight changed and she was left with a seven-inch scar down her midriff – riddled with insecurities and refusing to let anyone see it. 

Having modelled for ASOS, BOOHOO and Superdrug – the scar acted as the catalyst for launching the skincare brand to help other people feel confident exactly as they are and really start their self-love journey, 

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

I’ve been modelling since I was 15, I worked at The Priory in daycares and domestic violence units before I went travelling and ended up in Sydney.

While in Sydney I worked as a nanny and carried on modelling. I’m currently the Founder and CEO of glowb, a collection of British made and vegan skincare products that transform your skin and remind you of your self-worth.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career?

With modelling, it was something I was scouted for – I think with a plan and an actual decision with my career was when I decided to study psychology in university. I had been living in Australia for 5 years when I got a phone call to say that our worst fears as a family had come true and that my baby nephew was severely ill. After he spent months on the liver transplant list I agreed to donate part of my liver and flew 10,000 miles from Australia back to Manchester.

We both made a full recovery and post-procedure my weight changed and I was left with a seven-inch scar down my midriff. I was riddled with insecurities after the operation, refusing to let anyone see it. This was the beginning of my body positivity advocacy and I now wear my scar with pride. This essentially led me to my new career and launching glowb. Our mission is to redefine beauty and help people love themselves exactly as they are. We are building a brand that breaks the mould and encourages people to step into their own self-love journey.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

First talks of launching glowb came in early 2020 when the pandemic hit I, like everyone else, had no idea what was going to lie ahead.

We launched in September 2020, and honestly, launching a business in the middle of a pandemic was not for the faint-hearted, global supply chain issues almost crippled us. With little to no experience starting a business, no outside investment and a global pandemic it was a huge risk launching glowb – there was just so much uncertainty.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

Donating liver to my baby nephew to save his life is my greatest personal achievement but it was also the catalyst for my greatest professional achievement – launching my own company in a pandemic and selling £2.6 million worth of products in the first year.

After donating part of my liver, I was left with a seven-inch scar running down my midriff and crippled with insecurities after the operation I initially refused to let anyone see it.

However, now I wear her scar with pride and I’m on a mission, through glowb, to show others that everybody is beautiful – it’s just having the ultimate treat-yourself moment with clean, gentle, uncomplicated products. As a plus-size model, my scar was also seen in a global lingerie campaign for all to see in shop windows all over the world.

Sophie Hughes, glowb

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

Grit and determination – passion and unwavering persistence, I saw a gap in the market, a way to drive body positivity forward, and I wasn’t willing to give up.

You’re all about body positivity which we love – how can we all start becoming a little kinder to our bodies?

A simple step you can take every day is to list all the things you DO love about your body and celebrate them for me it’s my scar.

Also, learn to catch your negative thoughts about your body. I always think I would never speak to my best friend in this way so I wouldn’t dare think to speak to myself that way. When it comes to social media I unfollow accounts that make me feel bad about myself or question my worth instead my feed is a sea of like-minded individuals who celebrate the skin they are in.

Do you have any advice for any budding entrepreneurs?

Nobody is coming to save you. I say this to myself multiple times a day, if you want to be wildly successful it’s on you, no one is going to do it for you, the people around you will support you, love you and pick you up off the floor but it’s on you. Get to work.

Follow your gut. Thanks to trusting my gut in my professional life it leads me to where I need to be and launching my brand. I’ve used my gut when making a six-figure business decision which means I can make decisions quite quickly and be cut-throat but as an entrepreneur, you have to be. I encourage everyone to lean in and trust their gut when making decisions. It has not failed us so far and within the first 12 months of launch, we turned over £2.6 million.

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

That we look beyond the traditional restrictive binary and acknowledge that organisations and activities need to be more inclusive for non-binary people too!

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

You are enough. Remind yourself every day because sometimes others and even yourself will fill you with self-doubt and will try to keep you small. You have to be bold and know your worth and your own capabilities, you are enough and you can do this.

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

I feel having a body care routine is just as important as having a skincare routine, so we’re looking at launching a body moisturiser and scrub duo with a fun new scent all packaged in the aluminium tubes similar to our “Not Another Pink Mask”. I’m aiming for glowb an internationally recognised brand, stocked with some of the biggest retailers in the world and encouraging everyone to love the skin they’re in!

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