Maria Salichou, 29, applied to the Marie Claire Inspire & Mentor campaign in 2010 and was paired with L’Oreal scientist Julie McManus. She has just launched her own personalised skin care business
‘When I applied to the Marie Claire Inspire & Mentor campaign I had a business plan but I needed someone to give me that extra push,’ says Maria Salichou, a 2010 Marie Claire mentee and founder of personal skincare company In Situ Cosmetics.
‘It was always my dream to develop skin care that was personal and would address certain issues and skin concerns,’ says the 29 year-old. ‘It frustrated me that the industry is very ‘one size fits all’. As a scientist, I know everyone’s skin is different.’
Gaining a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Oxford, Maria worked in the research and development of anti-cancer drugs but wanted to combine this passion for science with her interest in business.
Maria says she had everything in place to launch her business but Julie gave her the reassurance and confidence to believe her business could be a success. ‘I was stalling and she just told me, ‘It’s now or never’ and to stop wasting time.’
‘I’m a perfectionist, but Julie helped me understand that building a business is an ongoing process and tweaks can be made once things are up and running. And she was right. I know now that the best way to improve something is by giving it a go.’
Since launching In Situ Cosmetics in March, Maria has introduced an online platform to enable customers to live chat with expert scientists and help them make more informed choices about their skin.
‘We’ve also just launched our ‘Aroma Care’ line which is based solely on customer feedback,’ she says. ‘I want to know what my customers want and deliver a product they love.’
‘Marie Claire and Julie have helped me combine my passion for chemistry and skin care and turn it into the first company to offer a completely personalised approach to skin. I’m not sure I would have been brave enough to take that final step on my own.’
Although the 2011 mentor scheme is finished, Maria says she still regularly meets with Julie to catch up on the latest developments within the cosmetics industry. ‘Or just to chat about chemistry over a coffee.’