the growing up interview: Michelle Feeney, Founder of Floral Street

the growing up interview: Michelle Feeney, Founder of Floral Street

Who helped you grow? And what advice has led you to where you are today? We catch up with Michelle Feeney, friend of Beards & Daisies and founder of sustainable perfume brand, Floral Street, to discover the pearls of wisdom that have helped her thrive. 

Tell us about yourself and what you do

I have been privileged to enjoy an amazing career in the fashion and beauty industry. I’ve been described as a ‘cult brander’, as I’ve successfully helped brands build cult status globally by connecting with audiences in entirely new ways. I started life in London in fashion show production and PR and then moved to NYC where I spent 11 years at the Estee Lauder Companies. My ‘different kind of approach’ turned Creme de La Mer into an overnight success, from just one pot of cream, and the incredible years I spent on MAC Cosmetics, established their fashion outreach globally, and accelerated the story of The MAC AIDS FUND. Playing a key role in launching in over 40 countries was a complete whirlwind but it was the moment that I realised Beauty can do good!  

Moving back to the UK in 2003, I took the role of CEO at St. Tropez and was able to turn a ‘fake tan’ brand into a fashionable brand with self-esteem at it’s heart. Then, I took a gap year aged 51! I became aware that the fragrance industry hadn’t evolved in the same way as other beauty categories and I saw a gap in the market for a sustainable British, brand that was modern, offering fine fragrance accessible to everyone. I really wanted to drive change by creating an ethical brand with eco-responsibility at its core.

Describe a typical day in the life of you.

I don’t really have one! It can go between having a business Zoom call with people in Australia at 8am, dressed in lounge wear with an Alexandra McQueen shirt and a cup of coffee, through to planning how many products should be produced for our new home collections, or deciding what to cook for dinner! It can be a real merging of work and home, but I am so blessed to have such a rich and varied life. My grounding factors, however, will always be daily yoga, a cuddle with the dog and a meal with the family.

What’s the best bit of advice you’ve ever been given?

That would be from one of the most successful beauty industry brand builders, Leonard Lauder. He once said: “Just when you are tired of seeing something remember someone, somewhere is seeing it for the first time”. I keep this in mind constantly as our Floral Street brand continues to evolve and grow globally engaging with modern and curious consumers.   

What’s one thing you do every day for yourself?

I have been practicing yoga for 30 years now, which gives me a peaceful moment to ‘connect’. It helps with my inner and outer strength and makes me feel enlivened and ready for my day. It has also taught me not to accelerate to the maximum, but to fit my pace into time, not the other way around!

 What’s your favourite houseplant and why?

Growing up we didn’t have a house with a garden until I was 10, but our summer trips to Ireland dropped me into rural settings where I became very aware of nature. I am lucky now to have large gardens, but I love to fill my home with flowers. I’ve grown an Easter Lily from a small plant and now its huge! It flowers early at a time which is all about ‘renewal’ in the world. Houseplants can have a real beneficial effect. They need daily nurturing and that has actually helped me focus on my business and its growth, and also my own children and how they are developing into young adults.

What do you do to switch off?

I love reading, but it has to be a real paper book! I find it transport me into another world and the physicality of the pages gives my mind a rest from digital life.

What do you never leave home without?

That has to be my travel size fragrance! One spritz can really uplift my mood at any time of the day.

Who do you go to for advice and why?

My husband because he’s a business mentor and I know that what ever he challenges me with, it comes from the right place. Also, my mum as she’s lived through most situations and always has a calm impartial viewpoint.

What makes you happiest?

Spending time with my children – my son, Harry and my daughter, Emma. As passionate, young adults they really inspire me and have, unknowingly helped me visualize my sustainable fragrance brand. Both have visions for a more harmonious future with nature which really drives me every day, to try and make a difference.

What would you say to your younger self and why?  

There weren’t as many expectations when I was younger so I’ve always been brave and taken the leap to do things differently. However, ‘timing’ has been my biggest learning – taking a step sideways for a while doesn’t mean you are going backwards it can mean you are giving yourself space before you leap on two steps!

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