Meet: Tumi Siwoku
Having spent the years since she graduated working for several big cosmetics brands in a wide variety of roles, in 2021 Tumi took the plunge and set up her own research and development laboratory, Beauty Science Labs. As Creative Director it’s a chance for her to combine her creativity and entrepreneurial skills. Her goal? To make the market more accessible to indie brands.
Tumi spoke to us about her career to date, and how it feels to be managing her own laboratory.
Why did you choose the BA (Hons) Cosmetics Science course at LCF? What was your experience like?
I completely fell into it. Being from a family of medical professionals my late paternal grandmother had asked my mum to make sure I studied something related to medicine. So, I did, but after doing a dental placement and looking at the careers available in that field, I knew it wasn’t for me.
So, I started browsing UCAS one day to try to figure out what I wanted to do. I settled for pharmaceutical science and mapped out; I would just do it as a backup degree. Whilst applying I saw BSc Cosmetic Science in the column, clicked the link and at the time, LCF was the only university offering cosmetic science. It was really in alignment with my interests as a budding makeup artist and my A-levels in Chemistry, Biology and Maths. I knew it was the right course for me, and was right; I absolutely loved it, every topic was interesting to me. I learnt so much about myself and the tasks that scared me the most, things like public speaking/presentations have grown to be one of my favourite things to do now.
What were the highlights of your time at LCF?
How connected to the fashion world we were. I ended up doing some TFP (time for print) modelling shoots which I really enjoyed. I also bagged a job in Bond Street as a counter manager for L’Oréal within Boots Sedley Place which was fun, working on Oxford Street which was a stone’s throw away from uni.
I also made great friends who are still within the same industry after 13 years. It really was a nice mix of socialising, community building and learning.
Have you always had an interest in how make-up and cosmetics are created?
Makeup was a big interest of mine from a young age. When I was 14 friends and family would encourage me to help them out, as I was good at doing my own make-up. By the time I was 17 I was shadowing make-up artists and eventually started my own make-up artistry services. This was a huge area of interest for me so when the course came to my attention, I grabbed the opportunity with both hands.
You graduated in 2011, what have you been up to since then?
Since graduating I went straight into working. I worked for a popular cosmetics brand in north London and very quickly realised that I didn’t enjoy the development side of make-up/cosmetics. Coming home with glitter in my hair and dye between my nails wasn’t ideal. So, I very quickly looked into other routes within the product development space, and I was offered a chemist role in the West Country.
This was one of my favourite roles to date, working for a contract manufacturer that worked with many popular mainstream brands, from The White Company to REN and some celebrities including the boy band One Direction. This was a role that stretched me a lot and developed me the most as a chemist. I really enjoyed living and working in the West Country which was such a huge contrast from the big city that I grew up in – London!
After 8 years I returned to London to be closer to family. Having worked in contract manufacturers I transitioned to raw material sales and worked as a Regional Account Manager for almost 4 years. It was a great opportunity that developed my business acumen and commercial awareness, but I was really missing the formulation side of new product development. I love being in the laboratory, developing and creating. So, I decided to return to my roots and launched Beauty Science Labs, a research and development consultancy that helps indie brands to develop their own products.
You mentioned that you launched Beauty Science Labs earlier this year. Can you tell us more about this?
We’re a small laboratory space in south-west London. Our office is quite small and is split into 3, a laboratory area, meeting area and office desk space area. We’re a team of 3 so this is the perfect size for us for now. We help brands design their own bespoke formulations for their products and allow them to retain the intellectual property for the formulations designed. Our remit is quite wide as we are currently working on haircare, skincare and body care briefs but can do most things within the personal care space including cosmetics. Thankfully Catherine our lab technician is passionate about this line of work, so with my support, she’s really able to thrive in this area.
How does it feel to have opened, and now be running your own lab? Any other proud moments?
It feels amazing, as someone who identifies as both a creative and entrepreneurial this is a good combination of my strengths. No day is the same and as a team, we all look forward to coming to work, it’s so fulfilling as it’s something we’re all passionate about.
What are your hopes for the future of Beauty Science Labs UK?
At the moment, we’re just focusing on building trust and rapport with our current customers and continuing to develop our processes so that we can continue to offer our services to brands, both in the UK and overseas. Hopefully, in future we could potentially look at what manufacturing partnerships we can form so that we can offer more; but for now, we’re just taking each day as it comes as there are many possibilities to explore.