Powerful partnerships: One year on with Medik8

The science-led premium skincare brand with a strong ESG ethos is working with Inflexion to grow faster and further. One year into the partnership, climate action and international goals are being met – and there’s further to go.

“The last 10 years in beauty has witnessed a renewed appreciation of, and trust in, the rigour of the scientific method and the use of science in skincare treatments,” explains Elliot Isaacs, Founder of Medik8, a premium skincare brand focused on science-based anti-ageing products. He continues to explain that this ‘rational-beauty renaissance’ began with experts and ‘influencers’ producing science-based content on YouTube and other social platforms. “This #lovescience trend has only been accelerated by the events surrounding COVID-19, with humankind’s incredible development of a vaccine in less than a year – and with scientists so visible to the public on nightly primetime news bulletins.”

This confluence of events and trends over the last two years has created the perfect storm for Medik8’s offering, and 2021 saw record sales. The brand was conceived in 2009, though the idea for it dates back longer. After backpacking around the world, Elliot was involved in natural skincare and wanted to start his own line that continued the trendy natural mindset but added back science.

“The only secret to anti-ageing results was the notion that it was a secret!” Elliot jokes. “There was a plethora of evidence within medical journals – however at the time, skincare brands were largely driven by ‘magical ingredient’ trends. I was looking at how I could give the results that people are really looking for by leveraging science, while at the same time continuing the ethical and experiential qualities that consumers expect from their favourite consumer brands” This was early internet, so his research still meant he spent lots of time leafing through paper journals at the British Library.

His diligence led him to realise vitamin C, sunscreen and vitamin A (retinol) are key. “The three most effective anti-ageing skincare ingredients are also hardest to formulate, but that creates a high barrier to entry,” he says, adding this enabled the small brand to punch above its weight as an early-mover in the emerging space. “Then the market came to us, especially as key opinion leaders started talking about science-based ingredients.” As Medik8 was already there, it was able to grow quickly.

Growing faster…

As the firm was growing impressively, it set out to scale further through enhancing digital routes to market and expanding globally. Elliot felt Inflexion were the right partner and in the year since February 2021 when Inflexion invested, Medik8 have been working closely to innovate further, while Inflexion's in-country experts are helping the firm with its expansion plans in China and the US. “Our growth prospects are strongest in these markets. We’ve recently spent a long time structuring a cross-border China deal carefully to ensure the most effective market entry, and now we’re developing our US strategy. I hope that in three years we’ll see our sales in the US and China have taken us to the next level.”

Underpinning these – and all – ambitious plans are the people driving them. “Inflexion have been helpful in recruiting our Chair and a non-exec director, both of whom have been brilliant appointments. They and Inflexion are rolling up their sleeves to help us recruit for our next phase of growth. They have helped us to professionalise the board meetings and governance, and that’s really important as we grow as a business.” Inflexion are currently working with management to broaden out the C-suite and also enhance Medik8’s digital capability.

There is also a view to expanding the distribution, with Inflexion’s digital focus a lever Medik8 can draw on. “We started our distribution with professional clinics and spas, and cherish this expert channel, however we now also supply a broader mix of high-quality retailers, including online.”

…And sustainably

Unlike many companies which are just now beginning to embrace ESG, sustainability has been core to Medik8’s ethos from the outset. The firm has ambitious goals covering carbon action, waste reduction, ethical behaviour and social investment. Commitments include being certified carbon and plastic neutral by 2023 with a “zero-factory-waste-to-landfill by 2026” ambition. These sustainable targets are only possible because it develops everything in-house and manufactures 90% of its products, meaning it has complete control of a large part of the supply-chain vertical, and can measure and manage its impact effectively. 

Recent notable sustainability successes include hitting their 2021 ambition to ensure that all Medik8 ‘backbar’ products used in clinic treatments are packaged in a sustainable format. Similarly the firm also became certified ‘website neutral’ in 2021 – meaning every delivery made from the website was carbon offset. “It’s an important part of our journey to carbon-neutrality and net-zero, and we backdated the offsetting to our first online sale, which was 2013. That’s tens of thousands of deliveries, and we’ve now offset the carbon from all of these.”

The firm is also in the process of building a brand new 100,000 sq. ft. ‘innovation centre’ in Hertfordshire, which was purpose-built by a net-zero construction company which is on board with Medik8’s values and has incorporated a solar roof, massive water reduction plans and electric car charging.

Says Elliot, “Inflexion have always been on board with our passion for sustainability. We get no resistance and every encouragement.”