Seven Secrets of Wellbeing: Susan Gerrard
Susan Gerrard loves everything about beauty. She has dedicated 26 years to the professional beauty industry, has seven award-winning beauty brands under her belt – including Jessica nail care - and won a lifetime achievement award for her work in the spa industry.
She is also the guiding spirit behind Mii Cosmetics, which was born from thousands of women saying what they really wanted in a make-up line – easy to understand products that are totally wearable, recommended by a beauty therapist they trust. Mii is now sold in 21 countries worldwide. (Sarah is a big fan.)
Now 73, Susan insists on always looking forward: ‘It keeps me young at heart and young in mind.’ This year sees the launch of her eponymous Beauty Academy in Hertfordshire, which will offer a high standard of training in the professional beauty industry, so students can gain in-depth knowledge and the confidence to pursue a career in beauty.
Here are Susan’s secrets:
Never waste precious time worrying. In 1992, when I was 46, I launched a new career on a whim. I brought Jessica natural nail care over from the States to the UK, completely revolutionising the nail industry from artificial to natural nails. My enthusiasm overtook any negative thoughts like ‘Can I really do this?’ I’ve always thought the word ‘if’ a waste of mental energy. In 1993, I was diagnosed with breast cancer but I stayed strong because I knew it was treatable.
Appreciate nature. Aside from beauty, one of my passions is gardening and I love spending time outdoors. I’ve learnt to stop and take time to appreciate the changing seasons – from seeing the first spring crocuses, enjoying the scent of summer blooms and watching the autumn leaves fall. A poem I learnt at school by William Henry Davies reminds me regularly to stop, inhale and reset: ‘What is this life, if full of care, We have no time to stand and stare.’
Make lists. Before going to bed I write a list of what I need to do the next day. It gives me a sense of order so I don’t lose. I count up in my head what I have achieved that day and what I hope to do the next day. Writing a list helps to clear my thoughts - and when I tick things off it gives me a great feeling of satisfaction.
It’s never too late to learn something new. Seven years ago, I decided to learn to play the piano. I couldn’t read a note, but after many lessons learnt to read music and play the tunes I love. When I sit at the piano it’s all I focus on, which helps me to shake off stress.
Laugh! I love to really laugh especially with my family. We’re very close and we all work together in the company. I also like to collect joke-y birthday cards. I have a stack in a drawer at home - which is often raided by my children and grandchildren.
Document your life. It’s important to remember where you come from, so I wrote a book about my mother’s life and proudly presented it to her on her 90th birthday. I’ve also written a book on my own life and career path. It felt very fulfilling to write down my story and memories. It helped me appreciate who I am today.
Keep sparking your interest. Expand your knowledge or practical skills of whatever floats your boat and discover what a great feeling that can be. You never know where it may lead. When I changed direction from being a secretary to training as a manicurist, I never in my wildest dreams thought I could ever start my own beauty business. Now I sometimes have to pinch myself to believe it all.