21 May 2019
Those terrifying two words made famous by Lord Sugar were thrown in Susie Ma’s direction in the final of the 2010-11 series of The Apprentice.
The nation watched with baited breath to see who would win the first £250,000 business investment in the series But behind the scenes, Susie’s future was on the line. What was entertainment for thousands of watchers, was real life for the 21 year-old. She’d put it all on the line to secure Lord Sugar’s backing.
Susie, however, was never one to give up. Now, almost ten years down the line, Susie is Lord Sugar’s business partner and Managing Director of Tropic Skincare.
In the past year, Tropic turned over £29 million and now has 12,000 ambassadors and more than 3 million customers. The numbers are astonishing when you consider that Susie started the business on her mum’s kitchen table at just 15 years old.
Having moved from China to Australia, Susie and her mum then found themselves starting a new life in London. They were far from the lush greenery of the natural world that Susie had grown up in. London proved expensive and whilst her mother was entrepreneurial herself, her mother soon found that they were struggling to make ends meet.
Determined to help out, Susie took her knowledge of the natural world to create a body scrub. It was all natural, cruelty-free and home-made. She took the scrub to Greenwich market where she made £980 on her first day, paying the rent and more. The stall escalated and Susie began making £600-700 per day, paying friends to hold stalls in other markets too. She made enough to put herself through university.
Mind Your Own Business
I met Susie in Morocco a couple of years ago. We were part of a group to take on the Strive challenge with Sir Richard Branson. The challenge was cycling and climbing i the Atlas Mountains to raise money for Big Change. On the edge of a sharp drop as we climbed the mountain, Susie collapsed. I threw myself forward, catching her head before it hit the rocks we were stumbling over. It was an experience that neither of us will ever forget.
Despite suffering horrendously with altitude sickness, Susie persisted and completed the challenge. I knew from that point on that Susie was one to watch.
So this week, I am excited to share the interview that we did recently for the Mind Your Own Business podcast.
It’s a compelling story, sharing her journey from the lessons she learned from her extraordinary grandma, to The Apprentice, to sitting at the head of a multi-million-pound cosmetics firm with a firm focus on cruelty-free products.
Listen to the latest episode and let me know what you think in the comments below.