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Real dilemmas, real solutions – from our real-life superheroes. This month, Marcia Kilgore, founder of some of the world’s most exciting beauty brands, including the water-saving Soaper Duper, has recycled 50 tons of plastic bottles and has a crush on her husband (now that he has a new beard)


Q What makes you feel wild?
A A very steep mountain under my skis. And tequila. Definitely tequila.

Q What are you doing to make the planet greener?
A Recycling 50 tons of plastic to make the shower gel bottles for my clean and green, bath and body range, Soaper Duper. Being the first beauty brand to request recycled plastic in our makeup compacts (which inspired our packaging supplier to source recycled plastic) at Beauty Pie. Trying not to buy single-use plastic bottles. And in general NOT ENOUGH.

Q Where does your soul most happily reside: city, countryside, or both?
A City. I love the energy I get from the interactions, the creativity, the friction, the buzz of the hive. For me, other people are like batteries – they give me energy. However, I equally enjoy climbing up a mountain alone, on my skis, blasting music in my ears.

Q The DJ fails to show up. What’s your go-to track to get everyone dancing?
A “Got To Give It Up” [by Marvin Gaye] on very loud. I could go on here, for like, hours, if you need a list…

Q Who is the hero or heroine you’d be tongue-tied to find yourself sitting next to at a dinner party?
A Once you’ve cleaned out Oprah’s T-zone [Oprah was Marcia’s client at her first New York day spa, Bliss], it’s difficult to get tongue-tied by a heroine. Maybe Daniel Kahneman, the economist. I’m a huge fan and might not even know where to start because his grey matter is so damn advanced!

Q What would be your message to your younger self?
A DO NOT LET YOUR SISTERS TOUCH YOUR EYEBROWS. Or, never miss a party if you can help it..

Q Which world conflict would you like to see resolved first?
A That would be the one between civilisation and our reliance on oil and gas. If we could resolve that conflict, I think a lot of the others might just go along with it.

Q You’re on a raft adrift in the ocean and the sharks are circling. Who is your companion to get you to shore safely? And who would you feed to the sharks?
A My companion would probably be my son Louis, who has watched every David Attenborough documentary on sea life there is, and will be most likely to have committed to memory some kind of shark distraction technique. He’s also a keen scuba diver, so will probably stay calm when surrounded by big fish. To the sharks? Nobody. A feeding frenzy would only attract more of them, which would exacerbate the issue!

Q What qualities would you look for in a deputy?
A Optimism. Pragmatism. Determination. Creativity. And a good sense of humour. (A good singing voice is a bonus.)

Q And what’s the key requirement for a lifetime partner of the romantic kind?
A Patience (apparently very necessary).

Q What’s the retirement plan?
A To keep connecting the neurons in the brain in new ways. Learn more languages, read, practise yoga, travel and maybe teach?

Q What’s your favourite lazy-at-home dish to cook?
A Cook?

Q You’ve started, built and in some cases sold, several beauty brands. How has being a female founder changed since you started? And how have you changed since you started?
A I have been so absolutely immersed in every project I’ve had that I never stepped back to think about what it was like to be a “female” founder. I have never compared myself to my male counterparts, but rather to other entrepreneurs doing new things, building new brands, etc, whether male or female (or anywhere in-between). I think I’ve learned to be more measured, to think a few more steps in advance. Business can be like a chess game, and the longer you are at it, the more you realise that it’s all about thinking about short-term cost versus sustainable upside.

Q What is the most important thing you learned about the environment from building the sustainable brand Soaper Duper?
A That sustainability is so much more complicated than most people realise. And there are no easy answers – one solution causes another set of problems. It’s not really the material, it’s what happens to the material which is not treated responsibly. And, as with everything, success comes with education.

Q Career high versus career low?
A I like this one for that: I never lose – I either win or I learn.

Q Career advice for the Marcia wannabes?
A I have yet to find a shortcut, of any kind, and I’ve been working for 30 years.

Q What do you wish you had said to someone who has departed this earth?
A I am very sorry I didn’t get to spend enough time with you

Q The last time you prayed, what was the occasion, to whom did you pray, and were your prayers answered?
A I like to think my prayers are always answered – and I figure out what good comes out of discomfort. It’s said that discomfort is your greatest teacher, it makes you grow. So I take that and try to learn how to be comfortable in an uncomfortable situation, and it stretches me. So my prayers are answered!

Q Who do you currently have a crush on?
A My husband, who has grown a beard and looks particularly dashing at the mo!

Q What would your Tinder profile say?
A Oh no. That would take me some time to figure out… necessary for today?

Q What superhero power would you most like to have and why?
A A photographic memory, which would be a precursor to all kinds of superhero DIY – planes, speed trains…

Q Where do you get your therapy from?
A Intellectual stimulation, which makes the trivial stuff seem like mental detritus.

Q Rescue dog or pedigree?
A Rescue cat, actually. We just said a sad goodbye to our 18-year-old rescue cat, HQ, who lived in four different countries with us before kicking the cat bed. He’s hard to replace.

Q Your book at bedtime?
A I just finished Bad Blood about Elizabeth Holmes and the Theranos fraud and am halfway through Creativity Inc by Ed Catmull. I am also carrying around a phone full of digital books I have downloaded but haven’t gotten around to reading. Hundreds of them, in fact.

Q Your epitaph?
A Ain’t no mountain high enough.

Q What did you learn from the toughest time in your life?
A That I can survive pretty much anything.

Q And from the happiest?
A That people are the reflection of your happiness.

Q You’re blowing out the candles on a cake. What do you wish for?
A Another birthday, and repeat!

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