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LASH REALITY

I was in the bottom set at school and teachers wrote me off, now I’m 21 and make £200,000-a-year

EXAM season is nearly over, and parents will be hoping their kids get results that set them up for college or university.

But if you’re worried about grades, don’t panic — aged 21, Millie Goodwin is proof being an A-star student isn’t everything.

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Despite being in the bottom sets at school, then quitting college, Millie Goodwin now turns over £200,000 a year from her make-up businessCredit: Paul Tonge
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Millie, now 21, built up her success in her bedroom at 14Credit: Not known, clear with picture desk

Despite being in the bottom sets at school, then quitting college, she now turns over £200,000 a year from her make-up business which she built up in her bedroom from the age of 14.

After mum Tina, 52, and dad Paul, 56, a DIY shop owner, refused to buy her pricey cosmetics she began making her own with the help of YouTube videos.

Seven years on, Millie’s firm, With Love Cosmetics, is now a roaring success — and she even employs 26-year-old sister Holly.

Millie, of Boston, Lincs, says: “I wasn’t very academic and none of my teachers thought I had much potential. I was really into my make-up and they wrongly assumed someone like me would end up in a dead-end job.”

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Mum Tina adds: “By secondary school, Millie was getting up at 5am to put a full face of make-up on. I’d say, ‘You can’t wear that, you know it’s not allowed’.

“In the end, we gave up and let the school deal with it. They’d make her take it off but she thought it was worth it.”

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Instead of studying for GCSEs, Millie spent hours in her bedroom trying concoctions she made herself from old make-up palettes. Tina says: “I worried because she was never very academic, but she really wasn’t interested. At exam times, I was always saying, ‘Millie, you’ve got to study, otherwise you’re not going to do very well’.

“Friends’ kids would be studying so hard they sometimes didn’t have time for tea. I’d be thinking, ‘Millie is sticking eyelashes on’.”

But Millie says: “I didn’t want to go to uni and become a doctor or vet, and teachers weren’t interested in me. None told me I would fail, but I’m sure they all thought it.

“When my GCSE results came in, they were a mixed bag — one A, then Bs, Cs and Ds. But it was better than I had expected. I went to a grammar school and my friends were very academic, focused on going to uni. I didn’t really want to stay at school for a moment longer than I had to.”

She now had her sights set on becoming a make-up mogul and was sharing photos of her DIY creations on social media. She says: “It started with me experimenting with colours, scraping old make-up out of palettes and mixing them.

“When I was 15, I shared a photo of one of my home-made shadows on Instagram and a friend messaged asking if they could buy it.” Initially, Millie’s parents contributed a few pounds to help buy powdered ingredients and containers. The business became a side hustle alongside a business diploma at college.

I would be awake till the early hours, doing everything myself — through from making the products to packing the orders. It was exhausting but I was determined.

Millie Goodwin

As she then began making a small income, her parents invested £1,000 to cover the cost of packaging — and a year on, Millie had dropped out of college to focus on her make-up enterprise.

She says: “My parents didn’t agree with me dropping out — but said if I worked hard and could cover the cost of the ingredients, they were happy. I got a job as a carer on around £9 an hour, often working 50 hours a week. I volunteered to do nights to earn double pay.”

By age 18, Millie was charging £2.50 to £5 for eyeshadow and began selling on Etsy. In 2019, she started a website — and turned over £160,000 that year.

She says: “I would be awake till the early hours, doing everything myself — through from making the products to packing the orders. It was exhausting but I was determined.” During 2020, as the country went into Covidlockdown, Millie’s turnover rocketed to £300,000 — higher than she expected.

As Covid restrictions ended last year, sales returned to normal and turnover for 2021 was £200,000. This year brightly coloured cosmetics are back and Millie’s products — all certified by PETA (People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals) — are selling fast.

The business now runs from a 150sqm premises converted from shipping containers and some of the products are made in China and America, using Millie’s formula. But the pressed glitters which she first began making in her bedroom are still handmade by Millie and her sister.

Over 350,000 followers

Mum Tina adds: “Still to this day, if she gets a big order, I help with the pressing. I also use all her products. I’m 52 but go out with glitter eyeshadow on, and highlighter.

“I’m immensely proud of Millie. Her determination is outstanding. It goes to show — what does she need all those qualifications for? It’s not to say they aren’t important, but Millie hasn’t needed them.”

Millie, with more than 350,000 followers on social media, adds: “There’s lots of box-ticking at school and it doesn’t teach you how to be an entrepreneur. Friends I went to school with are leaving university with around £24,000 debt and can’t get a job. I know people working in Tesco after three years at university.

“One girl I know applied for a job as an intern with me.

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“I still live at home — I’ll be here until the parents chuck me out. But I don’t have to worry about uni debts, or be stuck in a job I don’t love.”

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Instead of studying for GCSEs, Millie spent hours in her bedroom trying concoctions she made herself from old make-up palettesCredit: Paul Tonge
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Millie says: 'There’s lots of box-ticking at school and it doesn’t teach you how to be an entrepreneur'
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