Trinny Woodall on learning to be strong in a business world of men

Kristine Tarbert
·Features and Health Editor
·6-min read

Between having a successful 20-year career in television as the original 'makeover queen' and building a $250 million beauty empire from her kitchen table, Trinny Woodall is a woman of many achievements. 

Cult products from her Trinny London range sell every 30 seconds globally and yet, speaking to Yahoo Lifestyle, the businesswoman and mum stresses she didn't get there on her own.

trinny woodall
Trinny Woodall is a successful television host, author and businesswoman. Photo: Getty

"I always felt that I would get to a stage where I would have my own business," Trinny tells Yahoo Lifestyle, remembering the time she ran a lemonade stand when she was seven.

She was already a household name thanks to iconic show What Not to Wear, and The Trinny and Susannah make-over show filmed in 16 countries. But it wasn't until four years ago that Trinny London was born.

Learning to be strong

It all started at her kitchen table with only herself, her COO, and a handful of interns. Now the brand employs 120 staff, and it continues to grow.

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And there are two women Trinny credits for mentoring her along the way, revealing that growing up she was inspired by her older sister.

"I looked up to my sister because she was four years older than me, which at that stage [14/15 years old] made such a difference," the 57-year-old says.

"She was confident, she had beautiful skin, and I had really bad acne, she had lots of friends. She had a sort of glamour and ease about her, which I found are inspiring."

trinny woodall with trinny london products
Trinny London was launched four years ago. Photo: Instagram/trinnywoodall

By 2018, Trinny was named one of the most successful female entrepreneurs at the NatWest everywoman Awards and presented with the Brand of the Future Award, which is where she met mentor Chrissie Rucker.

"A part of the prize was to have her as my mentor for a year," Trinny explains. "I went to see her at the White Company. She introduced me to members of her team - and my team and her team spoke, so I learned a lot.

"I find her an extremely inspiring woman because she mixes being a mother with being a career woman.

"But she's also a really feminine woman. I think it's incredibly rare that somebody can get to the top of their game, build up such a huge company, that she still owns 100 per cent.... and retain that femininity. 

"I'm sure she can be the toughest party in meetings, but I've never seen that side of her. I really admire that. Because I think sometimes when I'm trying to be really strong, I feel I have to be quite 'male'. She never does."

A business world of men

While there are more successful women in business every day, Trinny reveals she's had her fair share of negative encounters in the business world, but they don't 'stay with her'.

trinny woodall successful female entrepreneur
In 2018Trinny was named as one of the most successful female entrepreneurs at the NatWest everywoman Awards. Photo: Supplied

"I was seeing investors and venture capital funds where they just didn't get the concept of Trinny London," Trinny shares as an example.

"Maybe I didn't portray the concept well in that meeting. But I felt that as there were no women in the room, there wasn't really the opportunity, as my business is predominantly for women.

"They didn't think it was important to have that voice in the room.

"They hadn't gotten to a level of employment where they actually had enough women in that process, but that has improved in the last four years."

Since then of course, Trinny London has won numerous beauty awards, and is sold online in over 65 countries.

The brand has grown another massive 280 per cent from March 2020 through January 2021, delivering US$52.1 million in gross revenue over the last 12 months.

Trinny's social media audience has grown to over 1 million followers across Facebook, Instagram, and YouTube, and a devoted ’Trinny Tribe’ of 25,419 people are also highly engaged online.

Just last week, Sunrise host Samantha Armytage shared her excitement over a new delivery of Trinny London goodies, raving, "Very easy to apply. Especially love her concealer."

Sunrise star Sam Armytage shows off Trinny London makeup
Sunrise star Sam Armytage shows off her Trinny London delivery. Photo: Instagram/sam_armytage

Best piece of advice

When it comes to sharing what she has learned with other women interested in stepping into the business world, or taking on any challenge for that matter, Trinny says the best piece of advice she ever received was: "99 per cent of everything you worry about never happens".

She also stresses to not be afraid to ask for help from people you think can.

"If you're really tenacious, you'll find the people on the journey who will help you get there. You know, because, to me, it really is that level of perseverance," she says.

"If you think, 'I really think that this person could help me with my business' – maybe there's a supplier, maybe they're an investor, whatever – just think of the 20 ways you can try and get to that person to send them an email, and don't give up. 

"The worst thing they can do is not reply, which I'm trying to remember now to reply to all those emails where I can't help somebody instead of just binning them. One day, you'll get the right email back.

"But if you don't put that effort in, you'll think why isn't it happening? There's a real balance between you putting enough in to then see what's going to come back at you."

Trinny Woodall poses at the launch of the TRINNY London pop-up
Trinny Woodall at the launch of the Trinny London pop-up at Selfridges in London in 2018. Photo: Getty

Trinny believes IWD message can start with you

International Women’s Day on March 8 is a day dedicated to lifting up the social, economic, cultural and political accomplishments of women. It is also rooted in raising awareness of the issues women face across the spectrum and, accordingly, advocating for gender parity.

The day has a theme each year, and in recent years, those themes speak directly to the importance of pushing forward. The IWD theme for 2016 was Pledge for Parity. In 2017, it was Be Bold for Change. In 2018, the IWD theme was Press for Progress and in 2019 it was is Think Equal, Build Smart, Innovate for Change

This year, it’s #ChooseToChallenge.

"I would say always start with yourself. So #ChooseToChallenge is left beautifully vague - and it can be interpreted in any way you like," Trinny believes.

"But I would say, first thing is to do is challenge yourself, do you think you're in a job you want? Do you think you're with the person you want? Do you think you're in the life environment you want? 

"Challenge yourself on those fronts and think, do I have the courage to change one of them if I'm not happy, or if I'm not motivated? Or stimulated or giving what I want to give in life? So Challenge yourself."

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