Aimee Connolly, founder of Sculpted by Aimee, has been named the 2021 EY Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year for her four and a half year old cosmetics brand.
“This was my first year taking part and it was such an honour to be a finalist and amazing to actually win it. We had a really great category of very ambitious brands this year and I was told that I’m the youngest finalist to win it, which is quite a shock,” she said.
Sculpted by Aimee has had a dedicated store on Dundrum’s main street since the summer of 2019, and it holds personal significance for the Dubliner. “I’ve always been affiliated with Dundrum shopping centre, I’ve grown up in the area and I loved the location and the community feel. When the space became available, it was a no-brainer.
“It hasn’t been the easiest road since opening, like many retail stores, it was closed for a long time with Covid. The shop has kind of represented a 360 degree shift from where I started out, working on beauty counters. I wanted customers to have a space where they could go for bespoke Sculpted ambassador advice, be it on a product or a full makeup lesson”, she explained.
Having started out as a makeup artist, it still leaves an impression on the beauty mogul to see her name alongside long-established brands or in spying someone pulling her products from their makeup bag. Having launched in Boots UK, the brand has its sights set on the international market for 2022.
“I think Ireland as a country is very ambitious; we have a great business sector and great entrepreneurs who really go for it. Irish brands are really rivalling global competitors and it’s fantastic to see homegrown brands doing so well. The Irish are very passionate about supporting Irish and that loyalty is such a great springboard for brands.
“Sculpted by Aimee is very much only starting our international journey, focusing on the UK initially. We will be launching in the Middle East at the start of next year and then the longer term plan is to break into the U.S. However, I think it’s so important to acknowledge what we’ve grown in our home country and probably nothing will ever match that because the support of the Irish is genuinely unique. This has really instilled us with confidence and has encouraged us to look internationally”, she stated.
In November, Sculpted by Aimee was also decorated with the Cosmetics Award in the VIP Publishing Power of Women Awards. Aimee commented: “That award was such an honour from an industry perspective because you are being named against your peers and it was a lovely recognition of the journey of the brand to date, as I’ve never won in categories like that before.
“The Emerging Entrepreneur of the Year award was a bit different because we were non-conflicting businesses but of similar stages and I can’t describe how shocked I was when I won, I was quite speechless on-stage. So, both awards meant so much for those different reasons.
“The awards are also a great encouragement from a team perspective, showing them the result of their hard work. Regardless of the fact that I’m the one standing up to accept it, it’s because of the people standing behind me, also. The team has grown from one full-time staff member in 2019 to 18 now and that will probably grow to 25 next year, which is very exciting.
“If anything, those sort of awards make you pause and reflect on other achievements, whether that’s the first time we launched our Christmas gifting or when we launched into Boots UK. There are loads of little moments like that that mean so much and remind us that we’re growing. I’d be quite guilty of moving on to the next thing before I’ve even finished the first and sometimes it means a lot to stop and appreciate how far the brand has come.”
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