We sat down with Aisha Latif known to many as Ash, about her business – Ash Cosmetics (newly crowned Business of the Year in the under 10 Employees category for the Greater Manchester Business Awards) and the journey so far.

Ashcosmetics began its Journey in 2014 and officially launched a range of cosmetics in 2016 . The Founder and Creative Director Aisha Latif (Ash), developed a luxury cosmetics brand with a focus on active ingredients, modern design and exceptional functionality. Ash brings with her many years of R&D and commercial experience, her background is in Biomedical Sciences with expertise in the Life Science Sector. But that is just skimming over the story……..

Ash’s background has always been in science after completing a degree in Biomedical Sciences and becoming a specialist in clinical biochemistry and genetics, Ash took the option to take out a gap year from her degree.

Ash took a position at Johnson and Johnson wound management in Skipton (now known to those in the industry as Systagenix). She worked in various areas from cell culture, micro testing to looking in to
how to stimulate cell proliferation in wound healing.

Systagenix was acquired by Scapa in 2018

It was here that Ash came up with an innovative on increasing wound healing and reducing scar tissue the same time, this idea was unique it was eventually filed as a patent. Ash had been bitten by the Entrepreneur’s bug without even knowing it.

After completion of her year at Johnson and Johnson, she went back to University to complete her degree. Following her graduations, Ash worked as a full-time scientist for various companies from QC lab testing to Pharmacokinetics.

After a few years Ash took on a hobby in makeup artistry which at the time to those closest to Ash, seemed to have no connection to do with her highly technical science background. Ash insists she was pursuing this as a Hobby, but it’s hard to see this as its clear from the conversation we had that Ash throws herself fully into all tasks and outcomes. It was in this pursuit that Ash was again hit by the Entrepreneurs bug and developed a new idea for a Foundation Stick Formula with non-oxidising properties.

This opened up a new gap in the cosmetics market, Ash threw herself at the task and delved into the Market Research that makes and breaks new ideas. Countless conversations and meetings with Professional Make Up artists and consumers followed. Ash wanted to create a product that was loved by professional artists as well as customers who want flawless skin.

This year the formula has been approved by dermatologists which is a monumental feat of success. It means it can be used on anyone with atopic skin (eczema).

Prior to this Ash had launched a range Glitters which helped create the Ash Cosmetics Brand. As part of a test of the cosmetic Market, the Glitter products were a huge success. The glitters contain 3 Dimensional reflective qualities, when used in combination with the special effect glitter adhesive – it amplifies the sparkle not only to the naked eye but on camera, something important to many professional Make-up artists. The launch of this product at the IMAT’s (International Makeup Artists Trade Show) London in 2016 went viral online. Not content with just making profit, Ash invested this money into the business. The profits generated provided the finance to fund the development of the HD foundation formulation. In 2017 Ash Cosmetics won the Best Beauty Product of the Year for this range.

Ash Cosmetics were recently crowned – Greater Manchester Business of the Year 2019 in the Under 10 Employee Category

It’s not all been easy going though, Ash Cosmetics found itself at the centre of the National Media, after an email containing a racist term sent in error to Ash. The Media questions was something Aisha admitted she wasn’t ready for and took a lot of time to deal with, and also the dealing with the offensive email as well.

However, the silver lining was the huge outpouring for support for Ash and Ash Cosmetics online following the initial comments.

The BBC picked up the story on the offensive email by the Business Magazine.

Ash was keen to insist that stepping into the cosmetic industry was not a plan, it just happened! Her passion had been the main driving factor in all of this … I love how she does this with a drive for excellence and has driven the Ash Cosmetics Brand far in 5 short years’ time.

Not only this but the Entrepreneurial drive may well rub off on Ash’s three young children (who are now 3, 5 and 7) and show many that you can combine passion and technical knowledge to create something to be truly proud of.

Journalist – James Caldwell