Ayrshire College’s female STEM network – Ayrshire Connects – held its second annual meetup, ‘Girls with Grit’ ,on 19 June 2017. To continue the theme of the event we will be interviewing a series of ‘girls with grit’ across Ayrshire and beyond.
My name is Melanie Blane, Founder and Director of vegan Skincare brand White Rabbit Skincare, based in Kilmarnock. I have recently won the Scottish Young EDGE competition, winning up to £10,000 in grant funding.
I started White Rabbit Skincare after being diagnosed with the skin condition psiroasos as a teenager. I wasn’t keen on using steroid creams long term, and thought the only way to guarantee the origins, ingredients and cruelty-free status of products was to manufacture it myself! Other than doing chemistry for two years at secondary school, I am entirely self taught in product manufacture and still learning every day – 3 years on!
Where did your career start?
I left secondary school after 6th year, and went on to go to university for four years. Whilst at university I worked as a Technical Records Officer for an aircraft maintenance firm, then moved to England for around 6 months and worked as an office assistant at a food production company. When I moved back home I got a job as receptionist in a welfare to work organisation. I’ve never really known exactly what I wanted to do for a career, but working in different industries gave me great insight, as well as experience.
Did you attend College/University?
Yes – I am a graduate of The University of Strathclyde, and proudly boast a 2:1 Honours Degree in History!
Although I am not doing anything directly relatedly to my degree at present, my time at university taught me:
- It’s not what you expect
- You’ll become so independent
- It’s much more than about ‘the degree’
- It’s what you make of it
- You’ll lose friends, and gain friends – and hobbies!
- How to be resilient – you can juggle everything and anything!
Is there equality in this industry?
It’s no secret that the beauty industry is geared towards female consumers. However despite that fact, most high-level decision makers in the industry are men. Though the beauty industry fares better in comparison to other sectors such as health, banking, technology and energy, beauty brands still have an average of just 29 percent female leadership across boards and executive teams. I want to help change that, and by directing my own company I aim to inspire other young women to take charge of their own careers.
Do you have any career secrets or tips?
There are endless amounts of ‘tips’ I could share, but if I had to pick:
- Get comfortable with being uncomfortable. The best things happen where you are pushed right out your comfort zone!
- Every new person you meet is a potential route to opportunity. Build bridges in both your personal and professional life and you never know where they’ll lead!
- Similarly, never be afraid to ask for advice. Create a good network of mentors or acquaintances you can call upon.
- ‘Thoughts become things’ – believe you are strong, inspiring, open to new opportunities. You can do so much more with a positive attitude than a negative one.
- There will never be ‘a right time.’ Take chances, live in the moment, and don’t let feelings like ‘I’m not ready’ get in the way.
Find out more about Ayrshire Connects and how you can be involved here.