In this moment of reflection, Jo came up with the idea for Scamp & Dude – a clothing and lifestyle brand with a full focus on helping others and sparking inner confidence and power. A few years on, with multiple awards under her belt, Jo is stepping back into beauty and collaborating with one of her first-ever clients, Cowshed. The concept? Using scent to spark your own superpowers.
Succeeding in your career is one thing, having true belief in it is something else entirely. That’s the conundrum entrepreneur Jo Tutchener-Sharp faced as she lay on her recovery bed following a near-death experience. Sure, being a high-flying beauty PR had its perks with an endless lipstick and liner supply, in fact it was her experience working with mega brands Estée Lauder, Ruby & Millie and Cowshed that persuaded her to set up her own PR business, but it was a heart-stopping life event that made her realise she had more to give.
GLAMOUR talks to Jo Tutchener-Sharp about the ups and downs that led her to start her own successful brand, and discovers why helping others has finally given Jo the purpose she craved.
Beauty was never a priority
I studied fashion at university, which (after a year of interning) led to my first proper job in fashion PR. I moved over from fashion to head up the beauty division after meeting makeup artist Ruby Hammer and beauty entrepreneur – now head of the British Beauty Council – Millie Kendall OBE, who approached us to represent their make up brand Ruby & Millie. It was these two brilliant women who changed my preconceptions about the beauty industry and made me realise it’s full of smart, creative, intelligent, interesting people.
Jo, surrounded by Ruby Hammer, Ruth Crilly, Caroline Hirons, Sam Chapman and Sali Hughes holding their Scamp & Dude Swag Bags
A career change made me crave creativity
I worked in PR for 7 years before moving in-house to become head of communications for Estée Lauder and Tom Ford Beauty. It was an absolutely brilliant place to work, ELC really care about their staff and being in-house gave me an understanding of business as a whole. The only downside was lack of creative freedom as most of the brand direction came from the US head office. I missed the creativity, buzz and excitement of the agency world.
Backstage pampering was my lightbulb moment
One creative project I did initiate at Estee Lauder was a beauty pop up backstage at The BRIT Awards. After leaving ELC to open my own PR agency, Beauty Seen in 2007, I developed this idea into a fully serviced backstage spa to entertain the artists, complete with massages, facials, manicures, hair and make up. The BRITs Spa was one of my first clients at Beauty Seen, along with Cowshed. Little did I know this would become a long-term relationship for me – I’ve just completed my 14th BRITs Spa!
That’s when it happened
A couple of years ago my life took an unexpected turn, I‘d just sold my shares in my PR agency when I developed a spasm in my face. I remember saying my head felt like it was going to explode, but the doctor told me it was severe stress. A couple of months later, I suffered a brain haemorrhage and discovered a lump that could only be removed with brain surgery. Everything changed at that moment. I found myself asking myself how proud I was of the life I’d lived. I had the time of my life running a PR agency, but I hadn’t actually done anything purposeful, and I definitely hadn’t helped enough people. It’s a horrible feeling to realise it might be too late. I made a pact that if I made it through the surgery, I’d spend my life helping others and giving back.
The business came to life on my recovery bed
The idea behind my brand, Scamp & Dude came when I was recovering in hospital. My kids were just 1 and 3 years old at the time and visiting me would have been terrifying for them – I looked like Frankenstein with one side of my head shaved, a large cut and 20 staples. I wished I could have given them a Superhero to keep watch while we were apart, so the first product I designed was our Superhero Sleep Buddies, £40.
These special little Superhero comforters have a pocket on the back to hold a photograph of someone they want to hold close, giving kids an extra sense of security when apart from their loved ones. But the best bit is, for every one sold, we donate another to a child who has lost a parent or is seriously ill themselves. We’ve donated over 1200 to children in need so far. Our slogan ‘a Superhero has my back’ reminds kids that someone is watching over them at all times even when they can’t see you, and our Superpower Button on clothes gives kids (and grown ups!) a burst of superpowers when they need it most.
The Scamp & Dude grown up clothing collection has surprised us all by becoming even more popular than the kids collection. Our signature leopard and lightning bolt print sweatshirts, from £50, have become a firm favourite of Robbie Williams, Emma Willis, Billie Piper and Liv Tyler.
Last year, we launched our Super Scarves, £28 which continue the ‘pay it forward’ philosophy – for every leopard and lightning bolt scarf sold, we donate another to a woman in need. It seems us grown-ups want a Superhero to have our back too and all need a burst of superpowers every now and again. After this, beauty seemed like the obvious next step.