MIRA started her association with Lush, the natural beauty brand, as a 'Saturday Girl'. Working full time in the music business, she found being in the largely female environment at the weekends to be refreshing. "Going to work for Lush after a long week soothed my soul and restored some much-needed loveliness," she says. She's the author of Danger! Cosmetics to Go, Lush's first foray into book publishing, and she talks about the genesis of the intensively researched, exuberantly written and designed book here.
HOW DID YOU FIND OUT ABOUT COSMETICS TO GO?
I was aware of Cosmetics to Go as some of our Lush products had their origins in that company, and we'd learn about them in product training.
HOW DID THE BOOK PROJECT COME ABOUT?
A friend at work passed Mark Constantine, founder of both Lush and Cosmetics to Go, a chapter of a novel I was writing on my dating disasters. Mark found it very funny. I found it mortifying that he'd read it. It all worked out, though, as we ended up in this conversation about the Lush book. He'd been trying to get a book about Lush off the ground for ages. Customers were always asking if we had one and wanted to know more about us.
I pitched my ideas to him, and we quickly came to the conclusion that we needed to start the Lush story from the beginning and first tell the story of Cosmetics to Go.
So many of our products, ethics and the way we invent and create came from Cosmetics to Go – it would have been a huge disservice to cut this out of the Lush story. It's also a pretty compelling, almost unbelievable story in its own right, so it deserved to be told.
WHAT'S THE MAIN MESSAGE OF THE BOOK?
First and foremost I think it's a book of origin stories – just as you discover that a radioactive spider bit Peter Parker, making him Spider-Man, I get to reveal the circumstances that led to the invention of some of our most iconic products like the bath bombs, shampoo bars, massage bars, and fresh face masks. They're all great stories, which delight Lush aficionados.
AND IT'S SOMETHING OF A CAUTIONARY TALE, TOO
The business seemed to have everything: creativity, fun, uniqueness, exclusive products, and yet it managed within a few tough months to spectacularly lose it all. It outlines the mistakes that were made, but also shows how easy it is to get something wonderful off the ground if you are passionate and creative and surround yourself with similarly enthusiastic people.
What advice would you give to an author just starting out?
My advice is simple. Just keep writing. Every day. Even when you hit a block with your narrative, or things aren't working as you wanted them to, just keep going.
If you trust in the words and let them out on to the page, they have a way of building into a finished story. That's when you have to get the pruning shears out and trim back.
Danger! Cosmetics to Go by Mira Manga is €24.95 **** and available from Lush shops or online at lush.co.uk
Let's all have a beautiful year!
SoSueMe: Secrets to Blogging, Fashion & Beauty by Suzanne Jackson Blackwater Press (2013) €19.99 ***
Jackson's success on the internet is formidable, and she's found just the right tone for that medium. Here, the translation is a bit hit or miss: the sort of things that work as posts don't work nearly as well as editorial. This is, however, great for aspiring bloggers who want a proper look behind the scenes of success.
Making Faces by Kevyn Aucoin Little, Brown & Company (1999) €25.99 ****
STILL extremely amazeballs after all these years, Aucoin made up the most famous faces of his time. I look at this the way I'd look at an art book: the images are spectacular, but I doubt I'd even try any of these looks myself. It's the standard by which all haute couture beauty is judged.
Style and Fashion by Lisa Fitzpatrick Blackwater Press (2013) €11.55 ****
I FOUND quite a few helpful tips and tricks in this book. Fitzgerald's tone is friendly and authoritative, and she's quite open about her own issues throughout. So, nobody's perfect, but why be perfect when you can be stylish and comfortable? The design lets it down somewhat: it could have looked to high fashion magazines for more guidance. See fitzpatrickstyle.com to get your copy.
It by Alexa Chung Particular Books (2013) €18.99 **
I CAME to this saying to myself, "I'm not going to be put off by the intended uber-coolness of this project, by its in-crowd vibe and its hipster sophistication." And then I got irritated by all of the above. It really is well designed, though, so if you have a fancy-looking book fetish, you'll enjoy this.