Back to the complete issue
Thursday, 29 September 2022

My Morning Routine: Lydia Schoonderbeek, founder and CEO of Source Beauty and chief creative officer at Egyptian Cosmetics Company

Lydia Schoonderbeek, founder and CEO of Source Beauty and chief creative officer at Egyptian Cosmetics Company: Each week, My Morning Routine looks at how a successful member of the community starts their day — and then throws in a couple of random business questions just for fun. Speaking to us this week is Lydia Schoonderbeek (LinkedIn),

founder and CEO of source beauty and chief creative officer at Egyptian Cosmetics Company. Edited excerpts from our conversation:

My name is Lydia Schoonderbeek and I’m the founder and CEO of Source Beauty and the chief creative officer at The Egyptian Cosmetics Company (ECC). I'm half-Dutch and half-Egyptian. I was born in the UAE, but now I live between Cairo and London. I love being in Cairo — it's where I lived most of my life. I love being here with my team and my friends but I'm also very much at ease in London. My husband is English, and between the two of us, we have four boys and two golden retrievers.

I’ve always worked in the luxury industry. I worked in luxury fashion for 15 years including at Harrods, Harvey Nichols, and Vivian Westwood. Retail has really been ingrained in me from the day I started working.

The idea behind Source Beauty really came from the fact that I like to be dependent on products that are accessible to me locally. People shouldn’t have to buy beauty products abroad and that’s not feasible for everyone. Beauty products should be more accessible. The devaluation of the EGP and recent changes in import rules have made it more expensive and difficult to obtain products from abroad. As a result, these amazing local beauty brands started popping up.

But even local brands weren’t all available in one place. They either had a shop on Facebook, were selling at a Saturday market, or had an Instagram page. I decided to bring together all the beauty brands that I love, that are based in Egypt and are locally sourced, under an umbrella that would serve as a marketplace for all these products. Source Beauty started off with 10 beauty brands with around 300 SKUs. Now, we have 85 beauty brands with over 3500 SKUs.

I wake up between 5-5:30am every day. I am very much a morning person — I’m always the first one to wake up at home, so I get to enjoy quiet me-time. I take this time to review social media, check my emails, and read Enterprise. I do an outdoor activity one hour before work, either taking the dogs out for a walk or rowing on the Thames when I’m in London.

My work day always starts at 9am with an hour-long call with my team. Each member updates the rest of the team on what’s happening within their roles. It's a great way to give everyone on the team ownership of their tasks. It also really ensures that we’re all communicating since communication is not really my strong suit. It’s something I’m working on, especially since I frequently work remotely.

The fun part of our work is discovering and being introduced to new beauty brands. Our office in Cairo is like a Disneyland for beauty lovers, with rows upon rows of beauty products. We also closely monitor our KPIs, test the beauty products, and spend a lot of time fine-tuning our customer service experience from a customer’s first interaction with the website, through the ordering process, to receiving their package. Something that I work very hard on is creating a personal experience for the customer. Having worked at Harrods, I appreciate the detail that goes into the best customer service experience. And I’m very passionate about recreating that experience online.

The beauty industry in the Middle East is growing at a really quick pace. One trend that I am seeing in the industry is an increase in women-led brands, which is giving women a voice and an outlet. A lot of the brands we work with are small female-led businesses. It is really amazing being a part of these brands’ journeys and witnessing their growth, both personally and professionally.

Inclusivity has also been a major trend. Certain brands speak to a certain Egyptian consumer. Big beauty brands like L'Oréal and Maybelline used to have a top-down approach, wherein they would tell customers this is the way they need to look. But these days, the trend has shifted and consumers are telling the brands, this is the way I want to look and these are the products I need, so it’s become more of a two-way conversation.

My new role as chief creative officer of ECC, and ECC’s investment in Source beauty have kept me really busy. The investment has kick-started our growth plans. We’re looking to grow the Source Beauty team quite substantially so I’ve been recruiting. My role at ECC has been an amazing outlet for my creativity since ECC develops brands and handles the formulation and packaging. Developing new ideas and seeing them come to life has added an exciting element to my job. Letting go and delegating certain elements of growth to members of Source Beauty has been very difficult because for the last four years, I've had such a firm hand on every single detail.

I am not a TV person and generally not too big on screens, so I prefer reading. I am currently reading the Paper Palace. A book I highly recommend is Americanah by Nigerian author Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. It’s a fantastic book that really moved me quite a bit.

Some really good advice I came across is to take an interest in and invest in relationships with people that you meet throughout your career, especially early in your journey during university and your first few jobs. Those people become your greatest lifelong friends, allies, and supporters. It’s very easy when you’re young and in a hurry to not appreciate those important connections. Making sure you stay in touch is very valuable.

Enterprise is a daily publication of Enterprise Ventures LLC, an Egyptian limited liability company (commercial register 83594), and a subsidiary of Inktank Communications. Summaries are intended for guidance only and are provided on an as-is basis; kindly refer to the source article in its original language prior to undertaking any action. Neither Enterprise Ventures nor its staff assume any responsibility or liability for the accuracy of the information contained in this publication, whether in the form of summaries or analysis. © 2022 Enterprise Ventures LLC.

Enterprise is available without charge thanks to the generous support of HSBC Egypt (tax ID: 204-901-715), the leading corporate and retail lender in Egypt; EFG Hermes (tax ID: 200-178-385), the leading financial services corporation in frontier emerging markets; SODIC (tax ID: 212-168-002), a leading Egyptian real estate developer; SomaBay (tax ID: 204-903-300), our Red Sea holiday partner; Infinity (tax ID: 474-939-359), the ultimate way to power cities, industries, and homes directly from nature right here in Egypt; CIRA (tax ID: 200-069-608), the leading providers of K-12 and higher level education in Egypt; Orascom Construction (tax ID: 229-988-806), the leading construction and engineering company building infrastructure in Egypt and abroad; Moharram & Partners (tax ID: 616-112-459), the leading public policy and government affairs partner; Palm Hills Developments (tax ID: 432-737-014), a leading developer of commercial and residential properties; Mashreq (tax ID: 204-898-862), the MENA region’s leading homegrown personal and digital bank; Industrial Development Group (IDG) (tax ID:266-965-253), the leading builder of industrial parks in Egypt; Hassan Allam Properties (tax ID:  553-096-567), one of Egypt’s most prominent and leading builders; and Saleh, Barsoum & Abdel Aziz (tax ID: 220-002-827), the leading audit, tax and accounting firm in Egypt.