Interview with Anna Brightman, Co-Founder of UpCircle Beauty

Have you ever wondered what your own version of success is? or even your friends? And that their version of success could mean something completely different to yours? We're not just talking about becoming the CEO of a a FTSE 250 (although dream big girls) but the real life honest versions of success.

As part of our mission to give you the confidence to conquer your world, we're investigating what that personally means to as many women as we can chat to, whether it's working a job that allows you to travel the world, saving enough money to move out of your parents house, bossing the boardroom or leaving at the end of your shift to enjoy the finer things in life. We're creating more transparency around success to help you realise your own version, inspire you to put a plan in place to achieve and execute it so you can conquer your world confidently. 

Today we read all about how Anna, a History of Art graduate, found the confidence to leave her job as a retail area manager for a big corporate company and join her Brother as a co-founder of UpCircle Beauty, a sustainable skincare company based in London.

Anna Brightman, Co-Founder of UpCircle Beauty

Anna Brightman, Co-Founder of UpCircle Beauty


What is your definition of success and what does it personally look like for you? 

Success is multifaceted. I believe our generation is starting to understand that success is not purely tied to monetary achievement. To me, success is living a fulfilled life where you are working in alignment with your values, achieving goals both quantitative and qualitative whilst having a positive impact on the world. I want to try and leave the world a better place than I found it. That, and having the freedom to spend time with friends and family, are my measures of success. 


What is your strategy to achieve your personal version of success? How do you plan to get there? 

As co founder of a company whose ethos is focused on sustainability and natural products, I ensure that all the energy I put into working and building a business is not at the expense of our natural world or other values with which I am not aligned (child labour, animal testing, furthering income inequality, deforestation). Building a start up is hard work, and every day presents a new challenge! But knowing that you are responsible for such incredible products, amazing customer experiences whilst also having a positive effect on the environment makes it easy to put in the long hours!

How different is your version of success from when you were in school? What did you want to be when you grew up?

Our education system is wonderful but unfortunately the curriculum is limited and often very linear. Success is typically measured purely as a monetary achievement with particular emphasis being put on mainstream subjects such as maths and science. As one grows older, they understand how diverse the world is and that true achievement and success cannot be so narrowly defined. Money is important for the choices and opportunity it can give you but it is important to realise that true happiness and fulfilment comes from much more. 

Growing up I always wanted to be a makeup artist, so my current job is actually not too dissimilar from my teenage aspirations! My obsession with makeup went hand in hand with an interest in skincare and so I am very fortunate to be able to say that I have been able to combine my passion and my work life.

What has been your biggest achievement so far?

 When you are running a business you are always looking forward - trying to grow the business in a sustainable way whilst meeting strategic and financial objectives. It is all consuming. Most businesses fail within the first 12 months and we have a lot to be proud of. We are trying to start a practice of occasionally stopping and taking stock of what we have achieved to date. I try to remember the saying ‘remember that what you now have was once among the things you only hoped for’ – I think this is very apt for both one’s personal and professional life. 

More specifically, one of our major UpCircle achievements was going on Dragons’ Den last year and receiving offers from 3 Dragons! Not bad.


When did you realise that joining your brother to co-found UpCircle was part of your life path and how did you find the confidence to do so?

 After working in big retail I soon realised that I could have a greater impact and achieve more for both myself and society if I was running my own business. Leaving the security of a stable corporate job is never easy. I had to trust that this was part of my path and that even if it didn’t work out, it was a necessary part of my journey. Every person and opportunity is there to shape your life, even the negative ones, despite that being difficult to see at the time! I had to just embrace the fear and go for it.

Anna Brightman and Will Brightman

Anna Brightman and Will Brightman

What is it like working with your brother? What are the positives and challenges of working with a family member?

I think in a way the positives are also the negatives. Working with my brother means we are both 100% real 100% of the time. There is not pretending, no niceties and no tiptoeing around. That can make for some difficult and uncomfortable conversations but that also make for the most efficient, honest and transparent relationship. We get things done, and we get them done quickly!

It's also a lovely added bonus that we can share our successes with our family, they’ve been so supportive from the start.

How would you describe UpCirlce and the brands mission/purpose?

Our mission is to deliver high quality natural and sustainable skincare products that deliver results, whilst also caring for the planet by promoting a circular economy. We aim to deliver products that consumers can enjoy using, with ingredients that they understand, and an ethos they can get behind. 


For those of us who are newly discovering UpCircle what can we expect to see in the upcoming months?

We are currently rolling out our new products in some exciting national and international retailers. We launched into Boots last week and have a couple more big name launches due in the next few months. We are also in the process of formulating some exciting new lines so watch this space! 

You must be a coffee lover then? What is your go to hot beverage?

I actually only recently got into drinking coffee, before UpCircle I had actually never drank a cup! (People are often shocked by this fact!!) I think being immersed in the stuff for the last 3 years has finally shown me the light! In the morning it has to be a coconut milk latte, if it is the afternoon a matcha for the grassy green goodness! 


What is your favourite product from UpCircle and why? 

My favourite product would have to be the floral face scrub. I have sensitive skin and have suffered from eczma for most of my life. The floral essential oils really help soothe and cool inflammation and the shea butter and coconut oil always leave my skin really smooth and hydrated. 

UpCircle Floral Face Scrub

UpCircle Floral Face Scrub




How would you define confidence and when do you/what makes you feel most confident?

Cliché as it sounds, confidence comes from within. Self care is also important. A long hot shower or bath with our beauty products, spending time to feel good and following up with a great outfit and cocktails with friends is what makes me feel good in life!


A little more personal, what would you say has been your biggest struggle with self-confidence that you have had to overcome so far?

Being a woman you are constantly bombarded with images and opinions on what it is to be beautiful – a certain skin colour, body weight, length or colour of hair, particular way to sit or laugh, what to wear – trying to ignore the noise and live in my own authenticity and beauty is an ongoing challenge (as it is for most women!). Annnndd avoiding comparison – it really is the thief of joy! 


Are there any activities or hobbies you do to de-stress and relax?

I am a very sociable person – I fill any free time that I can get with friends and family – they always provide a good laugh and some perspective!


If you could name one source of inspiration, who or what would it be?

I try hard not to idolise other people or their journey as I think it can detract from the beauty of our own journey. I would have to say nature inspires me – as Taoist Lao Tzu once said ‘Nature does not hurry, yet everything is accomplished’.


What advice would you give to anyone who is perhaps struggling to find the confidence to conquer their world?

 Trust your intuition. We often know the answers and what we need but don’t trust ourselves enough to walk the path.