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Incredible Women series: Ruby Hammer MBE

Ruby Hammer MBE is an international make-up artist and brand founder; I remember feeling so excited when I discovered Ruby&Millie lipsticks in the late 1990's - they had a gorgeous range of colours for my skin tone which were easily accessible on the High Street.

I'm delighted that Ruby agreed to be part of my Incredible Women interview series, she tells us about her business role model, her proudest moments and what she has learnt in over 30 years in the beauty industry.

What was your first job? I was a sales assistant in Harrods from my teens.

What did you want to be growing up? I wanted to be a doctor, like my dad. I always thought we would have a clinic together but I wasn’t very good at the sciences at school, so changed to focus on social sciences instead.

Who was your work role model? Probably my father who always worked hard, gave his best and was respected and great at what he did.

How did you find your niche and start on your career path?

It came after I got my degree in Economics; I met a make-up artist in 1984 and became her assistant, I had no previous experience or formal training in make-up but I was with her for a couple of years, then started doing my own test shoots, found an agent and gradually advanced my career as a make-up artist in my own right.

What do you struggle with in business?

Finding time for everything! Technology, social media… Like everyone else I’m sure trying to find time for everyone and everything is a struggle! Navigating social media and getting to grips with new technology doesn’t come easily to me.

What has been your proudest career moment? In a long career there are many moment to be proud of; some highlights include shooting with Vogue for the first time; creating Ruby & Millie and getting my MBE from the Queen in 2007… but there are many, many others.

What things have you learnt along the way? You learn things every day – from how to not make the same mistakes again, to negotiating better for myself, to take advice but to trust your own gut first… at the end of the day, nothing beats focus and hard work; pray for a bit of good luck too!

If you had been anything else, what would it have been?

Maybe working in the diplomatic core, or in the UN like my late aunt.

What has entrepreneurship taught you about yourself?

It is an extension of my personality, I like to be helpful to others and like to see what can be brought to market.

What helps you to stay motivated and focussed? I love what I do, I have a passion for it and that’s what motivates me. I like to finish what I have committed to.

What’s the favourite book you’ve read this year? The God of Small Things by Arundhati Roy

How do you unwind? By spending time with my loved ones, reading, watching films, listen to music. I also love having massages, meditating and trying to work out. I love being by the sea when it’s warm on holidays.

Finish the sentence: “my business allows me to….” Do what I love and make a living from it. It is a blessing that I can do what truly interests me and can inspire others and I am being inspired all the time.

What do you think you bring to your business that is unique? A lot of passion and experience; I am a creative with a commercial head, too. I can notice things from many angles and I get the bigger picture. I know what I like and want and I am able to go for it.

What would success look like to you in 5 years’ time?

My brand would be successful and in this crisis we are all worried about our very existence; I would like to be global and I still love doing photoshoots as a make-up artist – so I want to still be doing those!

What has been the most profound piece of advice you’ve been given?

You are never as great as you think you are and you are not as bad either…

If you could share career advice with graduates looking to get into your industry, what you it be? Enjoy the doing. Not just looking for the rewards it will bring, like money or getting to travel to wonderful places or mixing with celebrities. This will all come if you love what you do and stay focussed and work hard. It is a very competitive industry so don't kid yourself; teamwork is also vital to succeed.

Learn more and shop Ruby's collection of beauty tools and accessories at

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