Lush: Happy people selling happy soap

by Carmine Gallo

At Lush, happy people make happy soap, literally—the handcrafted cosmetics are fresh, free of preservatives and made with ingredients not tested on animals. The lesson of how Lush cosmetics grew from one small store in Poole, England, to a worldwide chain of 700 shops in 44 countries holds valuable insights for any small business in its growth stage.

1. Stay true to your values. “We pride ourselves on ethics,” says Mark Wolverton, Lush North America President & CEO. “As we grow, we refuse to change the very things that make us unique.” Wolverton told me that Lush has always strived to make a positive environmen­tal impact. The products are 100% vege­tarian and 80% vegan. According to Wolverton, this is the “ethical choice” that Lush has made since its inception. Ask yourself, what does my company stand for?

2. Communicate your values. Once you know what your company stands for, you must communicate your unique values through multiple channels. Individual Lush stores maintain their own Facebook pages, and Lush tells its story through its web site and free in-store newspaper, The Lush Times. Lush also does something unique—it gets involved in environmental causes by holding events and protests at its stores, including some that have turned off customers.

But they are also passionate about their values and communicating those values. “We strive for a substantial amount of transparency in the business. We must act in a green fashion and the causes we support. It all fits together,” says Wolverton.

3. Involve employees. Lush includes its employees in every facet of its business—from the causes it supports to the discussion of its products. Again, Lush does something unique. It sends new products to every employee’s home so they can use it for themselves. Employees are the brand’s best ambassadors so this intimate knowledge of every new product carries over to a high rate of customer satisfaction and loyalty.

4. Hire for cultural fit. Wolverton says Lush strives to hire people who don’t see it as a job but as a lifestyle choice. “It’s nice to work for a business you believe in,” says Wolverton. “They are working at a job where the values of the product fit the choices they make on their own.”

Lush’s strong growth proves that you can win in business by creating an environment where people have an opportunity to grow and to be involved in the business and its values. Above all, Lush teaches small business owners that it’s not enough to sell a product. Sell a story as well.


Carmine Gallo is a communications skills coach, keynote speaker and author of The Presentation Secrets of Steve Jobs and The Innovation Secrets of Steve Jobs: Insanely Different Principles for Breakthrough Success.