Lisa Hilton - CEO of Rehab London - Guest Speaker at the VivaWomen! Speakers event

05 Feb 2014




VivaWomen! is a unique internal women’s network set up by Publicis Groupe for all the women who are working within the Groupe.

VivaWomen! was created in order to help women to succeed in life and meet their career ambitions within Publicis Groupe. Like many companies, Publicis has a sizable number of female employees—they account for 55 percent of 57,500 people worldwide. At the top level of the company, Elisabeth Badinter has been chair of the supervisory board since 1996 and SMG global CEO Laura Desmond has been on the P12 executive committee since its creation.

The mission of VivaWomen focuses mostly on helping women to seize the opportunities that are available to them at work and inspiring them to achieve their goals. This can be done by providing practical help and support from women within the same company as well from women entrepreneurs or high-profile women working for external companies.

VivaWomen! focuses on four strategic areas: leadership, mentoring, career path/navigation and work-life integration. There are networks in five U.S. cities, as well as in Paris, London and Shanghai, with members participating actively in a range of training and mentorship.

VivaWomen! organised their first Speaker events to inspire women and guide them to take their career forward.

Lisa Hilton was approached by the Groupe and was invited to be their first guest speaker at the Coach store in New Bond Street last Thursday. The aim of the event was to connect women from different departments together and attend a speech by Lisa Hilton where she shared her success story and journey from being a professional hair and makeup artist in the TV and film industry to becoming a business entrepreneur.




The creation of Rehab London has not been an easy journey.

This is a highlight of Lisa Hilton’s speech:

“I began my journey here in London as a hair and makeup artist in film and TV […] My inspiration for doing my own skin care brand was being from this background. I decided to launch Rehab London natural men’s grooming in January 2008 before we realised the true impact of the global economy issues. I was ready to launch my first manufacturing run early 2009 and by this time my small business funding was cut in half as well as all options of small business credit.”

Lisa then explained how she handled the economic crisis which happened at the same time as the brand was launching. This was done by exporting a British brand to the rest of the world, Singapore South Korea behind Rehab London’s first major markets.

Lisa also shared with her audience her experience about finding an investor. “I approached Envestors who set up Business Angel events at Coutts Bank. When I first knocked on Nick Taylor’s door he smiled at my small business but felt it was a “niche” and L’Oreal had just bought out a men’s range.  I was reminded in this economy spaces were premium at a Coutts event and I was just too inexperienced.

Thanks to her persistence and ambition to build her own brand, Lisa managed to obtain a pitch at the event.

She proudly explained “I was the last person to present that night asking for £50k for 20% of Rehab and I was the only women presenting that night. After a very basic presentation (I had only been trading for 8 months!) I was then give a grilling Q and A.  I held my own through the Q and A and let my passion and belief in my product shine through! Only two of the 8 companies who presented that night gained finance, including myself and I am the only one still trading!!  I recently asked my business partner why he picked me and he said “simple – your passion!” “

Lisa Hilton pointed out that “As a woman, 6 years ago new to Entrepreneurism when I first had the brand idea I didn’t necessarily have the belief in myself – like many women don’t.  The belief in my product got me through and you know what I believe in myself now!”

Indeed, studies demonstrated that women-owned businesses only make up 29 per cent of self-employed people in the UK despite nearly half (46%) of the working population being female. Also small to medium businesses employ 14 million British people. Many female Entrepreneurs’ struggle to find finance for expansion or start- up funds. This is why they tend to focus on the service provider industries, as opposed to large growth/reward ventures like brands and franchises.

In a new report ‘Women in business. Female entrepreneurship: creating growth and dispelling the myths', the FSB is calling on the Government to learn from the US and other EU countries to encourage female entrepreneurship by breaking down the barriers to self-employment, promoting alternative sources of financing, encouraging mentoring, and promote female entrepreneurship role models.

Lisa closed her speech by adding “It hasn’t been an easy journey but surrounding myself with a female non-executive board has helped greatly […] It has given me a very positive sounding board for new ideas, and a great and much needed support network. At Rehab London we now run mentoring programs for developing women in relation to public speaking, accessing Board positions as well as working with hairdresser who want to open their own businesses based on the knowledge they have gained.”

Lisa encouraged women by sharing her experience and vulnerability to appreciate how women have a different approach about how to take decision at work.

“Take one decision per month, it is not always shoot from the hip, think and take clear and concise decisions”- Lisa Hilton, CEO of Rehab London


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