It’s 9am and Trinny Woodall is in sequins. She’s having her hair done, and while a stylist blow dries her hair in curlers, she’s taking this interview and using another hairdryer to speed up the process.
It’s quintessential Trinny. The wasp-waisted entrepreneur, CEO, style icon and UK ‘It Girl’ is on a whirlwind visit to Australia to launch a local website for her beauty brand – and she’s making every minute earn its place in time.
In her trademark white trainers, worn with a sequin skirt and top, the 55-year-old is radiating. Partly thanks to her extensive skin routine – and the LED mask she wore in the car on the way here – but also because she’s talking about her fans.
The visit isn’t just for Trinny London, it’s for her to connect with her Trinny Tribe, the organically-formed legion of devotees who have been following her since the launch of the brand two years ago, to the day actually.
Local Trinny Tribers met her for a ‘shop-up’ (where she offered her thoughts on Zara’s latest collection in Bondi), attended a personal development and skincare masterclass, and tonight, they will form a snaking line around the building as they wait to celebrate Trinny London’s second birthday.
“In this day and age with social media, you have lots of friends that you’ve made all your life. But sometimes, we want to re-invent ourselves, you know?”
“Sometimes we might break up with a boyfriend, or move country, or change jobs – and we want to be a different woman. And sometimes the hardest way to be a different woman is when your family and friends treat you as the old view.
“[…] They’ve watched me, and something about what I’ve said has resonated with them as a woman.”
As her on-ground makeup artist Rae Morris will explain later, Trinny’s business is the destination she has always been travelling toward. The last time she was in Australia was almost a decade ago with her What Not To Wear show co-host and business partner Susannah Constantine. If the penny just dropped for you, and brought up memories of “Trinny and Susannah Magic Pants”, you’re welcome.
In 2010, Trinny and Susannah were filming a special ‘Makeover Mission’ takeover for Foxtel and when Morris stepped into her hotel room to do her makeup she noticed Trinny’s DIY-style makeup pots, which were stacked on top of one another.
The Trinny London ‘build-your-own’ Stack, featuring everything from BFF cream to eyeshadow, is now synonymous with Trinny herself. The brand sells one of the Stack’s most popular inclusions, Miracle Blur, every 23 seconds.
Here’s a woman who started her own beauty brand in her 50s, launched it with three staff in 2017 and now boasts over 50 staff (90% of which are female) – and ships to 56 countries worldwide.
Trinny London has become an international anchor community
Soon after Trinny hand-delivered the first ever shipment (and filmed the entire thing because of course she did), her staff noticed a fanpage pop up on Facebook. It hosted discussions about the products, about Trinny’s fashion tips, her beauty regime, and even arranged meet-and-greets for the members.
More and more groups have popped up online, their members helping to make up Trinny’s 1 million followers on Instagram and Facebook.
To look through Trinny’s lens at the atypical Trinny Triber is to see a woman who has been through her fair share of crap and has decided to become a fun-loving optimist. A woman in her 20s, her 30s, her 40s… all the way to her late 60s who has decided to choose happiness and bask in the power that comes with femininity.
“They want something positive,” says Trinny, expertly unrolling a curl while keeping eye contact.
“They don’t want anyone being negative or troll-y or to be putting each other down; because you can get enough of that every day of our life. So they then allow themselves to say ‘this is who I want to be now’.”
“The thing that I love in the work I do – which I didn’t get from television – is building a community,” she continues. “[…] That to me, is nearly more exciting than the physical embodiment of the brand which is the product, because I’m no longer thinking, ‘Ha! Sell it for hundreds of millions, blah blah blah’.”
Trinny’s daughter Lyla stands next to her as we talk. At 16, she’s effortlessly cool in a hair bandana and a baggy shirt with trainers. She’s helping too, passing Trinny hairpins as her mum needs them.
Lyla’s father took his own life in 2014. Trinny and Johnny Elichaoff married in ‘99 and stayed together for almost 10 years, a lifetime before she began dating her current partner, art dealer Charles Saatchi, in 2013.
The last two years as a new business owner, newcomer into the makeup sector and a CEO have been a dream since Trinny’s childhood in London. When she was six-and-a-half she was sent away to boarding school, and it was there where she conducted her first makeover.
“I would make over the girlfriends who weren’t leaving, because lots of girls went home to their parents and my parents lived abroad. So for the remaining ones I would get out this appalling, shitty makeup and funny things and I’d make clothes for them and I’d do their makeup,” she laughs.
Trinny as a personality is utterly addictive. Her IGTV page offers fashion and skincare advice for any budget, but it’s her effervescence and thirst for the daily grind which is binge-worthy, yet guilt-free. Also she accidentally dropped the c-bomb on The Sunday Project during this visit, which is equally hilarious and winsome.
As a company executive, Trinny says she’s still learning
Two years in, and her start-up has grown exponentially in footprint and staff size, but her past financial struggles have kept her modest. She respects financial stability as only a woman who has seen the opposite can.
“I have had lots of financial reward and I’ve also felt so lost because, you know, life takes over and you then don’t have the income you had,” she admits.
Trinny pays all her interns, she feeds everyone in the office with breakfast and lunch, and every employee who has been with her from the start has had at least one pay rise, if not more.
Unsurprisingly, Trinny’s team includes just three males, including COO Mark McGuinness-Smith, who is paid a higher salary than her because she has shares in the business. “I’m thinking we need more boys here,” she laughs.
Her staff also includes Harvard graduate Shira Feuer, who was previously on the marketing teams for Walt Disney and Burberry.
“She (Feuer) will know analytically who our customer is, but I know emotionally because she lives inside my head.”
As an entrepreneur, Trinny has a colossal drive, but a sparse track-record in her current sector. She’s written 11 style-advice books, had her own shapewear line (both with Susannah), and presented on countless TV shows.
While there are many remarkable things about Trinny’s story so far – least of which is that she underwent nine rounds of IVF and two miscarriages to have her Lyla – what stands out most right now is that she’s ushering in a new era of consumption.
Trinny’s message is that life isn’t over at 60, or after your pregnancy, or because the world dealt you a shit-sandwich which crippled you for a time. Life is about colour, living within your own means, and choosing joy in times when it’s easier not to.
The move from pop-culture ‘It Girl’ to corporate culture magnate has its trade-offs however. Trinny can be dreadfully serious when she needs to be, especially when it comes to managing her staff.
“I can be a very hard task masker,” she says, leaning forward. “If things are wrong I’ll come in the office and say, ‘Who fucked that up?’”
Later at her event that night, Trinny commanded the 150 fans in the room.
She delivered a speech which stressed her gratitude for their support, her amazement at how far her team had come, and the importance of self-care.
Speaking loudly over the applause, Trinny smiled wide and raised her arms as if pre-emptively going in for a hug from a distance. “You can be the woman you want to be… today,” she said.