2013 Manufacturing EOY: Mark Wolverton

Mark Wolverton, Lush Handmade Cosmetics Ltd. | BCBusiness

Congratulations to Mark Wolverton, president and CEO, Lush Handmade Cosmetics Ltd., the 2013 Pacific Region Entrepreneur of the Year in Manufacturing

The numbers behind Lush Handmade Cosmetics Ltd. tell a story of growth that words never could: nearly 900 stores across 52 countries in just 17 years. When Mark Wolverton brought the three-store British beauty brand from the U.K. to North America in 1996, while still working for his family’s stock brokerage, he never anticipated making it a full-time career. “My thoughts were that we would do five or 10 stores,” he says, “but I had no idea that it was going to be anywhere near as big as it was going to be.” Having never worked in retail or manufacturing, the learning curve was steep, but the rewards came quickly after the first Vancouver location grossed over $200,000 in its first month.

Despite the brand’s rapid expansion and financial success, Wolverton says his focus is on a company culture that values people over profit. “We often make choices that are in the benefit of the staff and in benefit of the environment, where they might not be as economic,” he says.

But the sustainable side of Lush’s business ties into its bottom line—Wolverton says he hires people whose ethics align with the company’s, fortifying a dedicated staff that can educate consumers, rather than sell them products that are not a good fit, resulting in unnecessary waste and a poor experience. “Success is in creating genuine relationships with customers,” Wolverton says.

In his position on the Lush board, Wolverton spends a lot of time in the U.K. strategizing at the global level. Looking ahead to 2014, he says he expects the company to do $208 million in North American sales and plans to upgrade 30 Lush locations. 

Six Questions

The people I learned the most from were my father and my partner in the U.K., Mark Constantine.

I knew my business was a success when the culture of the staff was aligned with the company goals.

I get my best ideas when I am in a group setting with peers and we are challenging each other on thoughts and processes.

People tell me the phrase I most overuse is “How are you going to measure that?”

The most underrated trait of an entrepreneur is strategic thinking.

If I weren’t doing this I’d be looking to work in a business that had a real meaningful cause.