Former Harrods beauty buyer Lucy McPhail’s new online shop, Fetch, makes the best skin-care products available to Irish women, says.
LUCY McPhail is the former Harrods beauty buyer who has set up her own online store, Fetch. If the provenance of that reference escapes you, it’s time you watched Mean Girls, the Lindsay Lohan movie; and if Fetch isn’t on your radar yet, you’re missing out on the ultimate insider edit of the best niche brands in beauty.
Niche brands are the next big thing in cosmetics, but sourcing them from Ireland can be challenging, and that’s before you get into exorbitant, international shipping charges. Now, Fetch is giving Irish customers easy access to those emerging brands, offering postage from €4, so we don’t have to pay over the odds for what’s already a pricey proposition.
As a skin care nerd (and a Mean Girls enthusiast), I have to say it: that’s so fetch!
When I meet Lucy to talk, it’s all I can do not to grill her for an hour on my own skin-care concerns; after all, her time spent overseeing a beauty hall in one of the world’s most iconic department stores has given her a unique insight into the industry’s trends and best-kept secrets. She’s had consultations with the most renowned skin-care experts, she’s had her own blood made into a face cream, and she’s travelled everywhere from South Korea to Brazil in search of the next scientific advancement.
Now, she’s parlayed that insight into fetchbeauty.com, the online store she launched earlier this year. Later this month, she’ll host a Fetch Beauty pop-up on Dublin’s Wicklow Street, from May 24 to 26.
With mini facials, luxurious samples, and skin-care consultations from cult brands like Perricone MD and Lancer, the pop-ups are geared towards a new breed of beauty buff: hyper-educated, with multi-step regimens, these women know their peptides from their ceramides; and, as a beauty enthusiast-turned-beauty pro herself, Lucy knows what they want.
Having begun her career as an assistant menswear buyer in Arnotts, Lucy quickly climbed the ladder to one of the most coveted jobs in fashion: womenswear buyer at Harrods.
“I spent two years doing that, and it was fabulous,” she tells me. “But it was lonely; there was so much travel and it was a huge amount of pressure.” When a buying role came up in the beauty department, she wasn’t sure. “I never really considered beauty as a job,” she says. “I remember asking my friends, ‘Will I regret stepping away from the glamour of fashion’?” she recalls. “They said, ‘Lucy, all you do is spend your money on products!’ And I have always loved beauty. When we were younger, I was the one telling all my friends to take off their makeup when they were drunk!”
As it turned out, beauty was far more glamorous than fashion. “We were building relationships with brands,” she says, “and to those brands it was a privilege working with Harrods, so we’d get amazing exclusives, we’d see things before anyone else, we’d be flown to Milan for lunch! I absolutely fell in love with the innovation and the science — there was no going back.
“We were discovering and growing niche brands, and one of the things I wanted to do with Fetch is continue working with niche brands and giving them a platform,” she says.
“We have brands using all natural ingredients from sustainable farms, brands run entirely by women, and brands like 111 Skin, by Dr Yannis, who’s a surgeon on Harley Street and developed his first product, NAC Y2 serum, to help facial-surgery patients to heal. In my opinion, it’s the best beauty product you can buy.
“For me, the decision to buy a brand is always product-led. I’m personally investing my own money in my stock, so it has to be good and it has to sell.
“I’d never invest in a brand just to have the prestige of stocking it, and while these brands are exclusive and some of them are expensive, I truly believe every product is worth the price tag,” Lucy says.
To demystify the product range for beauty beginners, there’s a ‘shop by goals’ category on Fetch, and with goals like ‘Get the Glow’, ‘Ultimate Hydration’, and ‘Korean Beauty’, Lucy expertly edits her product range to cater to specific concerns.
The biggest goal for Irish customers, she says, is ‘Look Less Tired’, and it seems we are finally embracing the ritual of skincare as self-care. In particular, we love our masks.
“Masks are a nice indulgence,” Lucy says. “There’s so much focus in Ireland on tanning and foundations, but I think we’re starting to shift away from that and appreciate good skin care. Masks are popular, in part because people like to post them on Snapchat or Instagram,” she says, “which is not why you should use a face mask, but at least they’re getting a great mini treatment!
“I would love to have a goal up there — look 20 years younger — but that’s not realistic. Skin goes through a natural process of exfoliation, and, after 30, that naturally slows down. No one has a time machine; everyone’s aging, so I hope what we do on Fetch is to help people have healthy skin, tone and texture, whatever their age,” Lucy says.
In that respect, the Fetch ethos echoes that of her skin care guru, Dr. Sebagh. “It’s not about anti-aging, it’s about aging maintenance,” Lucy says. “Don’t start when you’re 38 and go for Botox and fillers and an eyelift — there’s no joy in that. Start a bit younger, with accessible brands, when you’re 19, 20; working up to what you can afford. Early education is key. Invest in aging well from an earlier age, rather than waking up one day and deciding to fight it.”