dr Leah Totton has launched a skincare range with successful businessman Lord Sugar as she looks forward to having her first child next month – while recovering from a bad bout of Covid-19.
The Derry woman, who won Lord Sugar’s TV show The Apprentice in 2013, told the Belfast Telegraph that the foaming cleanser and moisturizer were delivered over budget and took seven times longer than expected to make – much to Lord Sugars Frustration.
After her victory, Lord Sugar supported Dr. Leah’s business plan for a chain of clinics offering non-invasive beauty treatments. There are now three clinics, and a fourth is planned for next year.
In the company’s latest financial results, revenue hit £1.8m and pre-tax profit was £0.6m.
dr Leah (34) and Lord Sugar, 75, have now specialized in beauty products.
Meanwhile, the family tree of the medic and her partner, South African golfer Justin Harding, will also branch as they prepare to welcome their first child in just weeks.
Her pregnancy was going smoothly until a few weeks ago, she said.
“I was amazing and I really enjoyed being pregnant more than I thought I would. It’s a magical time, you know, and I really loved it,” she said.
“But I have Covid. I had been doing too much and wearing a lot and I felt like I was blown away for six. I was really, really uncomfortable with it, but I’m not usually uncomfortable at all. It was a bit scary back then.”
She narrowly avoided hospitalization, “but I wasn’t far off.”
“I just had a really bad fever and by the end I couldn’t stand.
“I was just really weak and couldn’t get out of bed. I haven’t been able to bring my temperature down and of course what you can eat to do that is very limited when you’re pregnant.”
She was seen by a doctor but didn’t want to go to the emergency room.
“Doctors never go to the ER, so I was very reluctant to be admitted,” she said.
“But with something like that, I knew it was viral, I knew it was Covid and I knew it could happen. So I tried to sit it out as long as possible, but if I had been much worse I would have gone in.”
Luckily, her recovery was quick. “I have to say I turned the corner very quickly after not feeling well for a couple of days,” she said.
“It was a reminder for me that I’m eight months pregnant and you need to be careful when you’re pregnant as your immune system isn’t what it normally is.”
Just in time for the start of Dr. Leah Skincare this week she felt better, but it was a long time coming. “It took seven years, which was just a lot longer than I expected.
“I have a somewhat perfectionist personality and couldn’t find a wording I was happy with. I wanted it to be clinically effective, but I also wanted it to be paraben-free, vegan, eco-friendly, and fragrance-free or with only trace amounts of fragrance.
“Trying to do this was much more difficult than I expected from the point of view of actual clinical formulation.
“It has taken a very long time, much to Alan Sugar’s frustration, although he now has the final versions of the products for his own use. We are very different. I work great with him and we have been working together for 10 years.
“His attitude is very commercial. It took a lot to formulate these products and that wouldn’t have been his style, but I think it’s really important that we have a quality product.
“That’s what we’re putting our name on and the longevity that that will bring is really important I think. But it’s fair to say he was quite frustrated with how long it took.
“I can’t say how much investment it took, but it was way more than we budgeted and it took seven times longer. At first we thought it would take a year.”
But she said the products must carry the Dr. reflect Leah. “We have thousands of customers and I feel we have a duty to them to bring out a great range that you can use and that is suitable for all skin types. You can use it when you are pregnant or when you are vegan and it is really very good.
“It took a long time and cost a lot of money, but I think it will be worth it. We will see.”
She plans to launch an eye cream and later a skincare supplement as part of the range after her maternity leave next year.
Products are carefully formulated to be unisex and suitable for all skin types, with a guide on the website showing how much of each product should be used based on skin type.
For the time being, the products are in the Dr. Leah Clinics in Greater London and on the Dr. Leah website available.
“Later we will see whether we can get into a high street retailer. The first launch is only with us, we didn’t want to enter into an exclusivity agreement with any retailer or online retailer, we just wanted to sell it ourselves at first.
“Once it’s mainstream, I’ll look at other options to bring it to a wider audience.”
She’s counting down the days until her due date with the safe launch of the skincare range. The couple have chosen not to find out the gender.
“We’re going to have the baby in London. I live in Surrey although we’re having the baby in West London in one of the West London Trusts and then I’ll stay here with the baby and once Baby and I can fly we’re coming home to Northern Ireland for a few months .
“It’s my first baby, mom and dad’s first grandchild. My partner is from South Africa and his family is there so we don’t have a lot of family support here so I think it will be really important to have that. It will be my longest stay home for a while.
“My partner will be home in Derry for Christmas. He usually tries to persuade me to go to South Africa for Christmas because he prefers the weather there. He’ll come back with me for a while and we’ll probably go to South Africa for a few months before I go back to work.”
She says about six months feels like a “reasonable amount of time” for her maternity leave.
“I feel really ready to be a mom now. I’ve had the business for 10 years, it’s quite established, it’s set up, my staff are exceptional. These six months are a very special time and something I will only do a few times in my life… I want to share this with my partner, with my family and with his family.”
And her extended family in the Northwest have shared the excitement of her pregnancy. “I had a baby shower in Derry with all my family and friends from back home and then one in London.
“We went about 24 of us for afternoon tea at Bishop’s Gate Hotel for the one in Derry which is lovely and my grandma had to come along and all my aunts and cousins.
“That was when I was about seven months pregnant and still able to fly. Then I did one with my friends from London just a few weeks ago.”
dr Leah is looking forward to spending time with her friends in Derry who also have children. “That’s one of the reasons I come home after the baby because my friends there all have kids so you can interact with the babies while my London friends don’t have kids.”
https://www.independent.ie/news/pregnant-derry-winner-of-the-apprentice-dr-leah-launches-new-skincare-line-as-she-looks-forward-to-bringing-newborn-home-to-ni-42060117.html The pregnant Derry winner of The Apprentice Dr. Leah is launching a new skincare line and is excited to bring newborns to NI