‘Legology is the result of a long voyage to realise a dream. Ever since I started writing about beauty some 25 years ago I’ve been fascinated by legs and their wellbeing.
I wanted to develop a dedicated brand that offered inclusive support for leg shape, comfort and health.’
Meet the inspirational founder of Legology, Kate Shapland. Award winning journalist, cult beauty brand founder and co-founder of the British Beauty Council. We loved this wide-ranging conversation. And we know you will too.
First, tell us a little bit about you and the founding of Legology. What motivated you to start the business? What principles drive its evolution?
My background is in beauty journalism and like most beauty writers I had developed a special interest over the years – although not in any of the usual areas like fragrance or bio-chemistry,and skincare technology: my obsession was legs. Legs, legs, legs – and the lack of innovation and support for our pins – drove me in the direction of Legology, although the concept didn’t become real for many years. I was also fascinated by brands generally and the way ideas were conceived and evolved; the examples I grew up with in the business – and which inspired me most - were the likes of Liz Earle, Bliss and Bobbi Brown, which grew from personal places to incredibly successful international core brands. So I suppose I had a latent entrepreneurial gene that ultimately couldn’t be contained and actually I learned recently that I had one very entrepreneurial great great grandfather, so it’s not altogether surprising. My beef with leg care was that it had become all about cellulite, and while that is an issue it’s not the only issue legs have. A lot of women, including myself, suffer with heavy legs – especially with age, and I wanted to understand more about this and why no one had developed anything that properly addressed it.
In my research I discovered that the lymph – at the time little talked about – to be integral to the formation of cellulite because it impacts on the environment around the fat cells, yet no one was talking about this. Everyone was talking about fat, when the issue is not about fat, it’s about flow and the way fluid flows around fat cells. The more I understood about that the more I understood the role of the lymph in our body shape and sense of wellness.
So I found myself an independent French chemist and went to her with a brief. I knew exactly what I wanted my first product, Air-Lite, to do (promote the lymph), how I wanted it to smell, feel and look. Most importantly I wanted the product to make the wearer feel good – not hate themselves or feel miserable over a bit of cellulite or puff – and to use the product almost in spite of itself. I wanted the brand to bring joy to women’s lives, be properly uplifting and charming, and help women understand that improving on issues like heavy legs and cellulite needs a lifestyle approach that – importantly – is neither hard nor miserable. All that came easily – it was the net result of my day job – years spent reading studies, talking to scientists, seeing products and how consumers engaged with them, and I’ll always be there pushing innovation, new understanding and messaging on great leg care. It’s personal in case you hadn’t guessed!
How has your own menopause transition influenced your outlook towards work and life?
I think, honestly, it showed me how vulnerable we can be no matter how resilient we think we are. If someone had told me in my thirties or earlier that I would find myself in a meeting in my early fifties where I couldn’t process what other people were saying in order to input on the conversation, form a sentence or be crippled with anxiety about how I’d get home without crashing my car, I’d have laughed.
HRT and supplementation saved my sanity.
How do you define success for your business and yourself individually?
Success for me is when all the cherries on the slot machine line up across my business and home life. So I guess a week in which the sales are up on last year, the team are all content in their work, the sun has shone and I’ve managed to make my bed and give my dog more than an hour’s walk every day would be a defined as success.
Has your definition of success changed over time as an entrepreneur and individual?
I think success once meant being very out there with visible achievements. Now it’s about doing things quietly to contribute to a group effort to grow something or mentor someone. After a career working for myself I’ve realised that being part of a team is a joy. It’s fulfilling and exciting to get something created from scratch together and I’m as proud of the Council and all its achievements as I am of Legology.
What correlation, if any, do you see between age and ambition?
The younger you are the more ambitious you can be because you have energy, fewer commitments, less to lose or be scared of losing.
What are your aspirations for your business over the next 24 months?
Growth in our direct to consumer business, first steps into the professional side of beauty (which we have modelled but obviously not been able to follow through with) and greater ability to scope out and evolve key areas of the business that we have not been able to prioritise until now. For me that means more creative input than ever before in new product, treatment and digital offering. Very excited about that.
What do you wish your younger self had known about health?:
I do rather wish someone had taken me to one side when I was in my thirties and forties told me that I didn’t have to work so hard. That this could be a fast route to depression and sense of isolation. But looking back I can see why I did (and sometimes still do) work like that and that it served a purpose for me.
What would be your key advice to women transitioning through menopause today? What practical steps could they take to better support their bodies and minds?
We are so very lucky because of the breadth of advice and support we have on menopause now, but then we are the generation who have really driven this awareness and that speaks for itself. My advice to anyone transitioning through menopause would be to listen to yourself – don’t brush off feelings of sadness, anxiety and loss of confidence because these are all meaningful at this time of life. Get the supplements and the HRT , talk to your friends, listen to the podcasts, read the books, keep moving forward and laughing as much as you can about it. I’ve found that it really is so important to find some humour in life’s most challenging things. Exploring diet and supplements helped me come to terms with this chapter in my life too.
Your Meno-Boost Bio-Stage No2 was one of my early discoveries and I’ve continued to take it alongside HRT because its impact on my energy and memory has been so profound.
Is there anything else you’d like to share with the MPowder community about our second spring?
Don’t beat yourself up on down days. We all have them, despite the endless pretty pictures on Instagram.
Finally, we all know that stress can exacerbate menopause symptoms and we’re all living with a constant underlying anxiety right now. What have you done to better support yourself in the last 10 months?
Built a brilliant team around me and started delegating. It has been a revelation!