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Challenger Interview with Victoria Young, General Manager Europe of YES To

By Matt Dallisson, 24/04/2018

Victoria Young is General Manager of Europe for the challenger brand Yes To, who create natural, innovative, fun and efficacious beauty solutions from head to toe, ‘free of all the nasties and filled with all the goodies’. Founded 12 years ago, the brand is an early pioneer of the natural beauty phenomenon which is now enjoying huge success in the USA as the number 1 face mask brand across both natural & mainstream beauty, with double the share of its nearest competitor. In the natural category Yes To contribute the largest amount of growth versus any other natural brand, and they have recently secured fresh funding from Viking Global Investment LP.

Established in the UK just 4 years ago, their growth has been exponential. In the last year revenues have doubled, and distribution points have grown by 88%. A multitude of high profile awards have recognised their challenger success including the Beauty Oscars CEW, Pure Beauty, and Beauty Shortlist, whilst also being finalists for many more.

Much of Victoria’s experience has been with large multinational organisations including Heineken, Unilever, Mars, and Danone where she was Sales Director. The switch to an entrepreneurial challenger was inspired by the potential of the Yes To brand, it’s award winning innovation, and the opportunity as a challenger to shake up the skin care category. Victoria leads the Yes To mission to empower millennial women to both discover and celebrate their natural beauty, inside and out. What do you say Yes to?

View others parts of the interview with Victoria here

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What leadership characteristics do you look for when you are recruiting? What’s the most important skill set for successful leaders to develop?

So I think there’s a couple of things here. The first one I would definitely say is hire the best people and then let them tell you what to do. I find that incredibly useful. Get some great people into your business that really understand your organisation, your culture. Support them. Develop them. But really give them the opportunity to bring insights and new ways of thinking into your organisation. It’s incredibly helpful.

The other area I’d call out is resilience. And I guess, being more serious for a second, it can be quite lonely at the top sometimes. And therefore really identifying how you manage your energy, how you keep your resilience up, and how you use a network of people around you. And also to make sure that you’re supporting your team through all those times with moments to celebrate success.

The main things I look for when we’re recruiting, especially as a challenger brand is people that have the agility and the entrepreneurship. I think what’s really interesting, having been through this process, is that I’ve interviewed quite a few people now who really think they’re comfortable with the dynamic of working for a challenger brand but when you probe under the surface, what you start to find is actually the security blanket of a big organisation isn’t there.

And whilst the highs are exceptionally high, the lows can be low. And I think it’s really important to get under the skin of that and help people really understand that it’s a very different set-up to a big corporate organisation. So that’s definitely one area I really, really focus on.

And then I guess the second would be a bit of self-awareness as well because it’s so helpful to really understand what makes you tick and how you come across to others. So the question I always ask is what’s the toughest feedback you’ve ever had. And really probe that self-awareness and just hear how people have absorbed that. Why it’s been so tough for them and how they’ve taken action accordingly.


If you were to start from nothing with what you know now, what would you have sought more help with?

So for me, this one is really easy to answer actually. It’s ask for help. Always ask for help. Because I’ve learnt, right the way through my career and right the way through my personal life actually, that the sense of coming across that you’re in control and you don’t need to ask anyone for help, and it could look bad if don’t, is actually really self defeating.

And so what I’ve really tried to do is learn from that and understand that people are there to help you. Joining this business, I reached out to lots of different people to get advice, help. Having come from big FMCG organisations, I didn’t really know much about the challenger world and I’d never worked in beauty before. And I really started to reach out. And what was fascinating was how many people wanted to help me, how many people really supported me and went far above and beyond what I thought they would.

So I think, from a business standpoint, I would absolutely really advocate that. And then, personally, it’s been really helpful for me as well. So I got married five years ago. And after our honeymoon, my husband had a very bad motorbike accident and was severely injured. And just that learning of being able to ask people for help and support was incredibly helpful and powerful and really got me through it.


Which business achievement are you most proud of and why?

So of my achievements to date, the ones I’m most proud of all relate to Yes To. I’m really thrilled to have recruited and got fantastic team around me that have great credentials as a team but really embody the Yes-To culture. And they go out there, and they make it happen. And I’m really proud of that. And I’m really proud of the success that we’ve achieved in the last 12 months.

We doubled our turnover year-on-year, and we’ve grown our distribution points by 88%. Really I am very pleased with that.

View more of the interview with Victoria and view other interviews with leaders here

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