Robyn Gilling, our Product Manager from the UK team, talks about how she coordinates between brands and internal teams to move a project from concept to launch, and her exciting experience in helping to launch the first indie brand!

1. Tell us a little about your role as a Product Manager in the UK and what your team does?

Overall we are tasked with providing bespoke customer account management to create, manage and implement concentrated and efficient critical path timelines, to help customers achieve the quickest route to market. Internally, we fall under the Commercial team where we collaborate with all of the different teams in the business (including Chemists, Packaging, Demand, Procurement, Planning & Operations) to lead throughout the lifecycle of all new product development projects. Externally, we act as the face of the business for each individual customer, and are their main contact throughout the duration of the project. I know in other parts of the industry, and even other parts of the business, this role is usually split into two, but at the Trowbridge site we manage both the customer facing and internal facing aspects of the projects, allowing for seamless visibility and coordination across the management of each project – which is something I personally enjoy about this role!

2. What are some of your favorite things about your job/role?

Liaising with both the customer and the manufacturing team means you oversee the whole product timeline and you take full ownership of the project internally. It is really satisfying to see a project through from concept to launch, especially when you’ve invested so much time and energy into the creation process. I always feel like it’s a personal achievement.

Innovation development is a key part of our role and for me personally, this is where my true passion lies. Being a part of the product innovation process gives you an opportunity to really evaluate the market, consider where the gaps or opportunities are, and conceptualize these into a product or a range. That’s why when you have the opportunity to work closely with brands on the front end of their conceptualization and their brand origination, you have an added level of pride in your work. I was lucky enough to launch the first true indie brand within Meiyume and it will always be one of my fondest achievements because we had the opportunity to work so closely with the brand in the first stages of the initial development.

3. It’s exciting to know that you introduced one of the first indie brands into the business! Could you tell us a little about how that came about and how it can be different from working with some of the more established brands?

It’s clear to see the true opportunities posed by ‘Indie Brands’ and how they have continued to disrupt the beauty industry in such innovative and exciting ways. I’m grateful Meiyume were keen to invest and explore this further. With our own mission to empower and disrupt the beauty industry, it felt like the stars aligned when this brand came to us with an original concept and a fresh approach to the cosmetics industry.

Of course, introducing this new kind of partnership was never going to be without its challenges, and there were plenty! I think the main difference in working with an indie brand is a heightened requirement to ensure that we are flexible, resourceful and supportive earlier in the development and even throughout the process. We had to ensure that we could service all of their unique needs and support them to create their brand and bring their vision to life. We really had to focus on new ways of working at every milestone and every single team within the business did an outstanding job thinking outside of the box to implement fresh and innovative approaches to unfamiliar issues. As a result, we were able to establish new processes and ways of working that are still being used throughout the business now.

4. At Trowbridge, you and your team are situated closely to our manufacturing site, how has this arrangement allowed for a unique way of working?

Starting right at the beginning of product development, our Innovation & Development Center of Excellence is always a great place to take our customers as the laboratory always has so much going on. The space itself is very impressive, complete state-of-the-art technology to create award-winning formulas.
If time permits, I love to take customers to see this area as it gives them the opportunity to be more involved in their own developments, whether it be color matching, a fragrance workshop or even perfecting the texture of their formula. For some customers, the opportunity to be hands-on really adds another level of value to what we can offer because it creates a unique experience. When you scale that up and consider the actual manufacturing side, it’s always such a pleasure to host customers in the factory because then they can really see their developments come to life. I’ve worked on this site for around 4 years and I’ll never not be completely amazed by all of the activities going on in the factory – watching all of the lines absorbing components on one end and producing perfect products on the other is something that will never get old for me!