By Lorraine Wilson
At a time when the world is simultaneously more united and more distant than ever before, being able to draw on knowledge of how businesses can work on a global level is vital. It also depends on agile thinking and working together to respond to 
extraordinary circumstances. 

This experience has helped Jacqui Gale, as CEO of Wax Lyrical, to guide the luxury candle and home fragrance brand through this current pandemic and find new ways of working.

With more than 30 years of working at the top of some of the world’s best-known brands, as well as running her own company, Jacqui brings a combination of business and mentoring experience. 

She was due to appear at the Entrepreneurial Summit, scheduled to take place at Gleneagles on April 2, but has been postponed to April 2021.

Jacqui is also part of the GlobalScot network of experts, who help Scottish companies to find a place in international markets.

Wax Lyrical was swift in transforming its business to serve current and pressing needs, as Jacqui explains.

“With the increasing pandemic, Wax Lyrical made the decision to transform the business,” she says. “We repurposed the factory from home fragrance manufacturing to the production of sanitiser to support the NHS and other health services.

“I’m so incredibly proud of the team who together adapted and turned around  in a very short time frame. As a result we manufactured one million units of sanitiser within the first four weeks of production.” Edinburgh-born, Jacqui says her first ambition was to be an astronaut. There’s nothing like aiming high.

She went on to study chemistry at university, “To learn how to make things”. “Following graduation, I decided that I needed to take that practical knowledge and put it into learning how to sell things,” she said. 

Her first role was with  Estée Lauder, from where she was headhunted by Revlon.

In her next role she was responsible for launching Pretty Polly lingerie to complement the business’s hugely successful hosiery business. From there she moved to Lambeth Howard where she eventually became Head of Global Sales and Marketing for Lulu Guinness.

Moving to Falk&Ross GmbH not only saw Jacqui move into a CEO position, but also, create her own textile brand in SG.

Another CEO came at Crabtree & Evelyn, then another at Arran Aromatics before deciding it was time for her own company, and with JG International she provided consultancy services for retail chains, big box retailers, global brands, and private equity. 

It wasn’t too long before Portmeirion, parent company of Wax Lyrical, came calling to ask Jacqui to manage the development of that brand. 

Jacqui knows that teamwork is more important than ever in the current crisis. “Through hard work and the support and collaboration from many other businesses, we’ve been able to maintain a high volume of production and now whilst we continue to provide sanitiser to the NHS, we’re also making this vital product available to a range of businesses who are returning to work.”

With responsibility for expanding Wax Lyrical’s reach, her global experience is vital. Of course, working internationally can run into problems, particularly when the world is closed off.  

She has advice for companies looking to trade when we can eventually travel internationally for business again. “Technology can be great but there’s nothing to replace face-to-face meetings, especially in some cultures.”

As CEO of Crabtree & Evelyn, she saw conflicting cultures when it was owned by a Malaysian couple and by a Middle eastern family. “Although the interesting boardroom meetings were a great lesson for the future.”

This is one of the areas in which Jacqui gives GlobalScot talks. “I ask companies if they have considered the culture when launching into a new market. It can be something as basic as the colours you wear. 

“It’s about showing respect for the local market. If you do that comes back tenfold.”
It may also prove invaluable when she finally applies to NASA.

As part of its ES Momentum Series, Entrepreneurial Scotland is hosting a webinar tomorrow, Wednesday, May 27 on the theme of Untapping Your Mind’s Potential with guest speak Dr. Aaron Turner.

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