My QVC story and best bits


Alison YoungBefore QVC started, the beauty industry was very much a closed shop or secret club – only understood by qualified beauty insiders, like me.

The consumer, and even the qualified professionals and journalists, didn't really know the difference between high fashion, retail or salon brands and often bought purely by price point and image of a brand. In those days ingredients had only just been started to be printed on boxes! So the consumer was not yet savvy on ingredient importance.

Computers were not mainstream and brands didnt' have websites, so consumer information was limited and, in my opinion, often misleading or completely illegal!

When I heard about QVC coming to the UK 20 years ago, I saw it as an opportunity to dispel the myths of the beauty industry, to share my secrets and results I had seen in private treatments, and to explain product developments to a wider audience.

This would allow everyone to be a ‘clever shopper’ and know what they were buying, along with what results they can expect.

Well, walking into the big impressive London offices, at the time just over the bridge from my Knightsbridge and Mayfair head offices – famous in my industry – was very impressive!!

This meeting with the CEO should have been nerve-racking, but for me, it only confirmed the eagerness of a new retailing opportunity for customers all over the UK. I remember waiting for my meeting on the top floor in the executive suite (wearing my best Louis Feraud  navy suit my mum had bought me especially! I was watching a video of the USA shows and some of the UK rehearsal shows with Julia and her curly hair!

Alison Young nowSuffice to say, the meeting went well and we parted with a handshake which mean that if I could bring brands to QVC, go on air, and the viewers liked me, then we could do something! Well, the rest is history!

The QVC world and UK launches of products and brands mean that we are a destination of excellence and a respected retailer, looked up to by the highstreet who all thought it wouldnt last!

The 20 year journey has been amazing, but the starting point was always higher than any other retailer then, and still today.

The legal departments who check product ingredients and claims allowed an honest approach to beauty that mirrored my own ethos: ‘you don't need to buy every product, just the right one for you’. Different price points are okay, as long as the ingredients and results improve if you spend more money.

In the early days, you had to understand your own skin and beauty needs before you could choose the correct product and get that ‘wow’ result.

Funny stories along the way

Well we have all, pretty much, laughed for 20 years! The giggling fits, the exploding products, the unintentional innuendos that make you pause (as the crew are crazily laughing in your ear and behind the cameras).

You rewind in your head what you’ve just said, embarrassingly realising it wasn't quite as innocent as you thought! That's resulted in a lot of extra breaks, unless a particular producer likes to see your mascara run for ‘entertainments sake’ or to get a piece on ‘It’ll Alright On The Night’, thanks!!

My husband Simon saw me on air and then a chase - via Julia Roberts - ensued as he was the favourite and one of the most successful players for Crystal Palace F.C.

Personal life aside, two things stand out for me: the on-going importance of the viewer and the knowledge that I am helping you.

Then the fantastic ‘home grown heroes’ behind the scenes, many of whom started with us as teenagers or in their early 20s and have been promoted to be our bosses, because they hold dear the importance of honesty and customer loyalty too.

I am only as good as my product, and you’re only as good as the team that supports you. We have the best team which I am proud to be part of, and, of course, the best product.

Here’s to another 20 years as the number one! xxxxx

1 Comment

  1. Maria Royle October 2, 2013 at 8:33 pm -  Reply

    Hi Ali
    Great blog, really interesting and honest!
    I know you come across sometimes as a ‘bossy boots’ and ‘there’s nothing I don’t know about beauty and well, everything’ but I like your straightforward manner, tell it how it is, nitty gritty style. I bet you’re a good mate to have and ready to help if someone’s got a problem.
    Congratulations on 20 years, keep up the good work and let’s have more programmes like Ask Alison, the slots on Sunday Supplement and Perfect Partners.

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