It’s the sweet smell of success for entrepreneur Rachel’s launch

GLAMOUR Rachel Lowe holding one of her bags
GLAMOUR Rachel Lowe holding one of her bags
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There’s a motto which encapsulates the grit, the determination and the fortitude of those who use it.

That motto is He Who Dares, Wins, and is used by the men of the SAS.

GAMES Rachel with two of the Destination series

GAMES Rachel with two of the Destination series

It’s not something to be taken lightly, and its ethos is now being used by a businesswoman who herself went to the brink and had to fight her way back.

That woman is Rachel Lowe, who, in May, will launch her She Who Dares range of perfumes, clutch bags, and other accessories.

The name has been inspired by her own business history.

Rachel is well known in the city for her Destination series of board games – a Monopoly-style game where players travel around various places by cab.

To cut a long story short, Rachel had to put her business into liquidation, lost her home and her health, and had to start again from scratch.

One of the things that saved her, she says, was receiving an MBE for services to business, ironically at the same time her business was folding.

She said: ‘I didn’t think I should accept it, how could I?

‘But I spent a long time on the phone to my dad who told me the Queen doesn’t give them out for nothing, and it was about what I’d achieved, the time I’d given to help other people.

‘How getting that MBE made me feel was that I had a sense of self-worth again, even when I’d lost everything, and that was a real present, a real gift.’

It took Rachel some time to recover from her setbacks, but once she had she found she was determined not only to relaunch her Destination business, but also to launch her new business and create the She Who Dares range.

‘This is all about never giving up,’ said Rachel.

‘Even when it seems imposs-ible.’

Her idea is simple – she wants to see women being rewarded for doing great things.

Her ideal, she adds, is to see a woman wearing a necklace with her business’s stylised rose logo, like the one on top of the fragrance bottle (pictured) and to know that that woman has done something extraordinary that the people in her life wanted to thank her for.

‘That would be amazing,’ added Rachel.

The national launch for the new business is being held in Gunwharf Quays because, as Rachel says, she wants Portsmouth to be the first city to know about her products.

‘It’s really important for me to launch in my home town.

‘This was where it all started.’

Rachel’s business is within the Lakeside North Harbour Business Park in Portsmouth.

And she’s keen to keep things local with her products, too.

With her two fragrances, she is using Waterlooville firm Hampshire Cosmetics to mix the perfumes and fill the bottles, which were also made in England.

‘It’s something I’m really passionate about.

‘The bottle cap comes from Essex, and the bottle comes from Henley.

‘I could get everything made in China for a fraction of the cost, but this is now my chance to put something back into our local economy after I lost everything.’

The road to recovery has not been a short one.

‘It’s taken two years to get the product ready,’ she said.

‘I always thought I was successful with the games because I was very patient with it, and I’m approaching this in the same way because this, too, is very personal to me.

‘My own journey has been part of the process and I’m really proud of that.’

Rachel has been lucky enough to have been able to attract the help of so-called ‘Twitter Dragon’ Simon Dolan, who not only is her financial backer but someone who has let her use her own intuition for the business.

That has meant scrapping scents which Rachel wasn’t happy with, and getting a bespoke mixture blended just for her.

She also designed the bottle and cap herself, after being unhappy with a previous version.

She said: ‘It’s been a very expensive and time consuming process, not just for the scent but also for the packaging as well.

‘It had to be absolutely right.

‘Basically Simon is the sole investor in the company and he funds everything I do.

‘We have regular meetings but really he has helped me get my confidence back by letting me take my time and getting things absolutely right.’

So will we see Rachel’s perfume in Portsmouth’s department stores?

Not straight away, she says.

‘I don’t have a fashion house or a celebrity background, which you need to launch in a department store,’ said Rachel.

‘I am talking to Boots to stock my fragrance, but it’s really the independent department stores which are interested, the ones where the manager makes all the decisions. We don’t have any of those in Portsmouth.

‘But the reason I am starting my regional launch programme at Gunwharf Quays is because I’ve had so much support from my home town and I will be very proud to do it here.’

STORY OF A FRAGANCE

RACHEL said one of the best things about launching her business was being able to watch the perfume she created being put into bottles and packaged up.

She didn’t have far to travel to see the process, either, as it is happening at Hampshire Cosmetics in Waterlooville.

‘For the people working on the production line it’s probably just something else they have to do in a day,’ she said.

‘They can’t possibly realise how important what they’re doing is to me.

‘I’ve spent two years developing this and I wasn’t just watching fragrance go into a bottle – this has been my journey for that time and to see the finished product has been amazing.

‘To be able to watch it happen has just been incredible.’

For Rachel, both her businesses have been very personal things, inspired by her own life whether it’s paying her way through university by driving a cab, or by picking herself up, dusting herself off and starting everything again.

She said: ‘My take on business is that it is personal.

‘Business is personal to those who sacrifice everything and take the risk.

‘Things don’t always work out as you expect them to and dealing with the setbacks is something you can never fully prepare for unless you have been through it.

‘Business is very much like life itself – unpredictable.

‘Success is achieved in stages.

‘No one can ever take away the successes you achieve on your journey.

‘Just getting a product to market is an achievement, even if break even is a couple of years away.

‘The realisation that nothing is impossible is surreal.

‘Once you open your mind to the possibilities, life will never be the same.’

Rachel’s first fragrance to launch is called Eminence, with the date for it still to be set.

A LIFE IN BUSINESS

Rachel launched her business after famously getting ripped apart by the dragons on TV’s Dragons’ Den.

Undeterred by their withering assessment of her idea to develop a board game, she ploughed on, launching the Destination series eight years ago.

They were inspired by her part-time job as a taxi driver, which she had while studying law at the University of Portsmouth.

Destination London was followed by Destination Portsmouth and a further 19 editions of the game. Then a deal was struck for Rachel to launch Destination Hogwarts in 2008.

But the Harry Potter film the game was to tie in to was delayed, the recession hit, and the banks would not help Rachel out even though her business had been successful up to that time.

She lost everything.

She said: ‘It was totally devastating. I’d worked incredibly hard for six years trying to do it, from winning the university’s enterprise challenge award when I was 25.’

Rachel fought her way back from a complete emotional breakdown, and alongside Simon Dolan got the rights back to her business and, finally, launched that Destination Hogwarts game.

She also won the rights to Destination London 2012, one of only two gamesmakers to do so.

‘Getting the Olympics licence and the Hogwarts licence has really helped me with She Who Dares, because I’ve been able to strike a deal with Swarovski to be able to say my clutch bags have their elements in them.

‘They’re obviously happy that my products are of a good enough quality to put their name to.’