Entrepreneur interview: Lyma Life

06 October 2023

Please note: Barclays Private Bank does not endorse any of the companies or individuals referenced in this article.

The Driving Seat

In the first instalment of our new entrepreneur series, ‘The Driving Seat’, Shehreen Quayyum, Director in our UK team, interviewed Lucy Goff, the Founder and CEO of Lyma Life. Find out why she’s on mission to shake up her industry, and how she’s turned a one-person start-up, into a flourishing global wellness company.

Hi. My name’s Lucy Goff and I’m the Founder of Lyma.

What’s the best thing about being an entrepreneur?

You can literally do anything. You can start off with a little seed of an idea, and there is absolutely nothing stopping you from achieving that. The only thing that’s blocking you, is yourself. It’s not like being constrained by a big corporate or a legacy business. The power to change is infinite, you know, and it’s within your capability.

Biggest lesson learnt when building a brand?

You have to start out with products that genuinely work. If you don’t have products that really stand on their own, and really provide a point of difference within the market, then you don’t really have a leg to stand on when competitors or the industry comes in to challenge you. 

And I think if you’ve got a really robust suite of products, that are life-changing or are world-class, then you can always fight whatever challenges come your way.

Best piece of advice ever received?

Don’t listen to anyone that is not in your camp. Don’t listen to comments on social media. Don’t listen to journalists that have been paid by other brands to say something that’s not true about yours. Don’t listen to anyone that is not within your core team because you are then going to be affected by the noise around you. It’s going to derail you from your initial plan, and it’s not going to serve you in anything other than feeling muddled and de-focussed. 

So, only listen to people who you really trust and then you need to listen to them, because if you don’t listen to the people that you really trust, then that’s another set of problems that you don’t want to go down.

How do you cope with setbacks?

Every day you get setbacks, every hour you get setbacks. You know, that’s part of having a business. I think, you know, don’t look at anything as a setback. Don’t look at anything as something that you can’t overcome. And if you’re agile, which is something that I’ve really learnt since starting Lyma, then you can actually find a way to overcome anything. It might not be easy, and there might be days where you think ‘I’m never going to work it out’, or, you know, ‘this is too much’. But you know, anything that’s really worthwhile, is going to feel too much at times. 

But ultimately, if you’ve built it in the first place, then there’s actually very little that can totally derail you. And it’s a matter of sitting down with the team until you’ve worked out what the best solution is. So, I think, having the strength to think nothing can derail your business plan that you set out to achieve. 

One word to sum up your entrepreneur journey so far?

Probably, ‘unbelievable’, because I sit down everyday and I just think at times, ‘how did I even get here?’. 

You know, I started at my kitchen table five years ago on my own, with nothing other than an idea and a hope that it was going to work. To think about what I’ve achieved now, when you know, in our amazing headquarters, we’ve got a global brand…you can look back and think, that really was unbelievable. 

Shehreen Quayyum (SQ): Lucy, great to have you with us today.  Tell me about your business and what it’s all about?

Lucy Goff (LG): Funnily enough, I actually started Lyma Life by accident, having suffered major complications following the birth of my daughter. I was in hospital battling life-threatening septicaemia, and my body was at rock bottom. I couldn’t function as a Mum, or even as a person.  

Then I went to a clinic in Geneva and met a longevity professor, who ended up sharing his concerns with the state of the supplement industry. In his view, it underplayed the potential placebo nature of many of the products being marketed as health treatments. 

It led to me taking some supplements that he recommended, and within two weeks, I felt re-vitalised. Before that stage, I couldn’t function and didn’t have faith or hope in the pharma or supplement industries. And I remember thinking that if I felt that way, then surely thousands of other people must do too.   

All of that was the catalyst for Lyma Life. We launched in 2018 as a test, selling a wellbeing supplement priced at £150 a month. Within two weeks we’d sold out, which was when it dawned on me that we were on to something amazing and needed to scale-up rapidly. 

Today, we offer three products. A third of our strategy focusses on health, and two thirds focusses on beauty. Our products include a laser that we launched in 2020, which is a tonic to the current ‘light device-at-home’ industry which can be overly reliant on potentially flawed LED technology.  

SQ: You spoke about your daughter earlier – would you say she was your inspiration to set up the business? 

LG: Yes, absolutely. My post-birth healthcare issues were the spark that led to Lyma. Before then, I’d been happy in my PR job but I also felt that I’d never quite fulfilled my true purpose in life, and didn’t fit in. Even at school, I didn’t really fit in because I was so dyslexic and was frustrated that I couldn’t achieve what I knew I was capable of.  But thankfully, all that’s changed with Lyma.  

SQ: And have you always been entrepreneurial? Or did it come later in life?

LG: For me, it came later. Sitting in hospital in a life-threatening situation makes you re-evaluate every aspect of your life.  I was in hospital, my daughter was being brought in to see me each day, and I didn’t know if I’d make it out. It’s funny how you remember certain snippets of your life and I will always remember the Doctor’s expression when my blood reports were being read. Nothing was moving in the right direction and I could always see it before they said it. 

Sometimes, certain people need those ‘life jolts’ to find their purpose. It’s makes you sit up and realise that you don’t want to keep going on that same path over and over again, and that you want to do something different.

SQ: And how have you gone about growing Lyma to where it is today? 

LG: I would say that sticking to the original plan has been key. You need to have agility to grow a business from scratch, but you also have to stick to the original plan because that’s what everyone’s brought in to in the first place.

I also believe very strongly that it’s vital to learn when to say ‘no’ to ideas and requests. Be confident in your strategy and stay true to its purpose. Your ultimate product proposition defines you – it creates your confident success, and without it you lose your direction.  

SQ: I’m interested to know more about the hurdles and challenges you have overcome so far. Can you tell us more?

LG: I think it’s two-fold. First, the industry that we’re in has a number of factors that we need to navigate, including consumer mindsets. Before Lyma, customers might have spent £15 on a supplement, and then we came along and asked for £150. We have a constant job to do in educating consumers about the value that we think we’re providing. 

As an example, if you’re a menopausal woman or peri-menopausal with bad sleep and skin problems, then you’re keen to find something that might help. And if you find it and it costs the equivalent of £5 a day, then my argument is that it’s worth it. 

Likewise, why would a consumer spend £2,000 on the Lyma Laser without the education? Helping people understand that this device is 100 times more powerful than your typical LED mask. By explaining that the LYMA Laser is the first ever FDA cleared clinic-grade laser that you can actually use on your sofa at home, we can help people understand why it's worth the investment1

And on a totally different front, I would say that team building is a challenge. You quickly realise that your team on day one, looks very different to your team a year later. Your team needs to evolve in line with the different skillsets needed for different stages of the business’ journey. 

SQ: And conversely, what have been the biggest positives? 

LG: Without a doubt, I would say it’s our products. To have curated three products, which I personally believe are unrivalled in the marketplace, and having started with a blank piece of paper, is something special. I feel fortunate to have done it. 

SQ: More broadly, what do you think is the recipe for success for an entrepreneur? 

LG: Sticking to the original business plan. At Lyma, we have it on one piece of paper in the office. I remind the team every day that if their work doesn’t align to it, then they shouldn’t be afraid to stop what they’re doing. Saying yes to everything is where too many businesses go wrong. 

Despite needing to stay loyal to the original plan, you do also have to budget some space for pivoting, when new avenues emerge that might get you to your goals in a better way.  

SQ: On a personal note, what would you say is your style of leadership and management?

LG: For me, leadership and management are two separate buckets. For the business we’re in, inspiration has to be the key driver. If you don’t inspire your team, then they won’t hit their targets and help your plan. 

Management, however, is a very different skillset. It’s about giving the team confidence and helping the team along the way. Unless everyone truly feels confident, they are not going to be able to achieve what they’re capable of. It’s about sitting down every day, having a tactical pitstop, and identifying the solutions to your challenges. 

SQ: How has your role changed as the business has grown? 

LG: It’s changed massively because at the beginning, it was only me! I was customer service, product development, founder, everything. As the company has grown, my role has become more focussed, partly because I’ve been able to bring in more experts who can free me up to focus on watering the seed that started the business.

SQ: And lastly, what’s next for your business?

LG: We haven’t reached the end of our journey. We originally set out to create products that worked, and that consumers knew weren’t just based on hype. Today, we have a great set of products that are cutting through the noise and the marketing fluff of alternative products elsewhere. That’s the most exciting part for me, and a reminder of our reason for being.

Every week I sit down with the concierge department, which is the touchpoint with Lyma’s amazing customers, and I diligently go through the feedback. To hear the stories of so many people whose lives have been changed, is the part that fuels me to carry on.

SQ: Lucy, thank you for sitting down with us today. We look forward to seeing how Lyma evolves in the years to come. 

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