At No7 Beauty Company we thrive on curiosity. Our brands’ rich history makes them national treasures in the UK with global appeal. Millions of people trust our products because for more than 85 years we have shown that our formulations work, and because we value authenticity. For us this starts inside our company, that’s why we have a team whose role it is to preserve it.
We caught up with Company Archivist Sophie Clapp, who answered 7 questions on her role within No7 Beauty Company.
We think a job delving through the archives of all things beauty sounds fascinating! Can you tell us a bit about what you do and why you love it?
I can’t deny it, it is a fabulous job and one which I’ve been doing for 20 years now. My role is ultimately about preserving, growing and promoting our archive and heritage collections and providing an information service for the business and our customers. We also use the archives to show the authenticity and culture of our brands, to underpin brand claims and even to inspire future products. I love the variety within the role as well as the chance to dig deep into our past and share our stories more broadly. So many people have connections with our company and our brands. It’s such a privilege to find material which can help people relive memories.
What about its history to you think makes No7 stand out as an iconic brand?
The growth of No7 really represents the story of every woman’s experience of beauty. Available on the hight street, across the country and at an affordable price, No7 became a well-known, much-loved beauty brand, trusted by generations of women. Women grew up with it and grew old with it. The brand has also adapted to stay relevant, modern and accessible and with its strong scientific credentials, I’m sure it will continue for many generations to come.
There are so many beautiful examples of No7 advertising throughout its history. What’s your personal favourite and why?
It’s so hard to pick just one, but there’s a No7 poster from the mid-1960s titled ‘Alluring You’ which I just love. It features on our head office heritage wall and I think it’s such a stunning image which epitomizes the era. The glitzy golden No7 packaging from the 1952-1971 range is my absolute favourite and the women featured in this poster just oozes glamour and confidence.
Is there anything you wish you knew about the start of No7 that’s missing from the Archive?
Whilst the No7 archive is rich in product information and visuals, it’s much harder to reconstruct what the experience of selling, purchasing and using the products was really like. I’d love to have some oral history recordings of the first No7 consultants talking about their role, their beauty routines and their views on how it made our customers feel. Unfortunately, we can only imagine those private conversations, but I like to think of them patiently listening and encouraging women to be brave.
Is there any part of your job at No7 Beauty Company that when you started on you archivist career you never imagined you would get to do?
Well I have to say being an archivist in a beauty company does offer more glamorous opportunities than I had ever imagined. Working with such enduring and iconic brands has meant that I’ve supported national and international press events, VIP visits and appeared in a few TV documentaries. One of the great joys of being a corporate archivist is that you have the potential to influence brand development. A few years ago I was involved in the development of a retro-inspired beauty range and that was pretty special.
We know Florence Boot was passionate about her beauty display. What do you think she would make of the beauty halls we see in Boots stores today?
I think Florence would be absolutely thrilled by the prominence, range and stylishness of Boots beauty halls. I’m sure she’d be amazed and delighted by the importance of beauty to the business to today – it absolutely proves that she was right.
We could talk to you about this all day but one last fun question to finish on. We love the anecdote about Florence and Jesse arguing over what (beauty or healthcare) should have the best space in the store. What anthem do you like to imagine Florence could have been listening to as she installed her giant beauty mirror, thus having the last word?
Great question! I have on more than one occasion been reminded of the classic Aretha Franklin and Eurythmics sone ‘Sisters are doin’ it for themselves’ when thinking of Florence Boot – perhaps it’s the line “behind every great man there has to be a great woman.” You can find out more about Florence, Jesse and No7 rich heritage here on our website, as featured in the mail on Sunday.