You might know the red headed Essex beauty from ITVs TOWIE (The Only Way Is Essex), but we know her as the tenacious entrepreneur who now has a whole range of businesses under her stylish belt. From tanning products to eyelashes, Amy has now firmly cemented herself in the beauty industry from an early age, and has even launched her own clothing line, Amy Childs Official.
It was only in 2011 that you said you wanted to be a businesswoman and develop your own brand and in 2013 you’ve achieved that. How have you built up a mini empire so quickly?
I was always very business minded; I wanted the Amy Childs’ brand I wanted my own salon, and I wanted my own clothing line. I really thought about it and I think people watching me on TOWIE just thought ‘she’s just someone with a mum with loads of money’ but honestly I’ve always been very business minded. Even when I was 13, I knew I wanted my own salon. TOWIE has been absolutely brilliant for me plus my parents were business people so they always encouraged me to be like them.
So I’ve got loads of businesses now: Amy Childs Salon, Amy Childs Boutiques, and the brand online, Amy Childs Official. I just can’t believe how successful the brand has been!
How have the last two years felt for you, have you had any time to breathe?
I pinch myself all the time. I still can’t believe it and I’m so glad that I’m like that. It’s been really busy and very successful so far.
Amongst your portfolio you have a perfume, a range of eyelashes, beauty and tanning products, a fitness DVD, lingerie, dresses and a calendar! What do you enjoy working on the most?
I love the beauty area and the salon, because for me, it’s really interesting to discover what it is you like about yourself but then it’s also about thinking about what other people will like.
Obviously from the show, everyone knows me for the Vajazzles – I’m actually known as the Vajazzle queen – but now I do a lot of other things like the HD brows and the nails which is really enjoyable, but right now I have got a real passion for the clothes collection.
What have you been doing recently on the fashion side of things?
I’ve just come back from China looking at all different kinds of materials so I’m actually bored of looking at dresses now! (*Jokes)
Do you wear your own clothes quite a lot?
All the time. I love it. Yes, sometimes it’s a bit embarrassing but I think it’s really important to love your brand so much that you feel comfortable enough to wear it.
Of your own, what is your favourite product to use on yourself?
I’ve got a brand new perfume coming out next March which I’m really excited about. I love perfume. I go through so many bottles of it so it’s good that I have my own that I can spray on myself all the time.
So apart from your own, what other brands do you wear?
I do love my high street stores, I especially like Topshop and Zara,; the coat I’m wearing right now is from Zara and it’s great because your can dress it up or dress it down, but then I also like Victoria Beckham’s clothes. I wore one of her creations just recently to my friend Daniel Lloyd’s wedding, and another time in Australia two years ago. Not only do I like her clothes but I also like her as a person. I think she’s a great role model.
Can you explain what Amy’s Academy is and what it aims to do?
People always come up to me, be it in person or on Twitter and ask me questions about beauty. They’ve seen me on Big Brother with my sleeping rollers or on TOWIE as a beautician and seen how passionate I am about the subject and how much I love it. So I’ve developed these starter kits with the various products needed for spray tanning specifically and they can come to me and learn how to spray tan after buying the equipment at the classes we hold at hotels all over the UK.
They’ve been really successful so far, and they get booked up very quickly. In the future I’d love to get people to come to the Amy Childs training academy to learn how to do manicures, pedicures, waxing, everything.
It was semi inspired by my time at private school. I absolutely loved it and I’d love for girls to be able to come to my college and be able to learn to do what they enjoy the most, just like I did.
When did you start them?
It was only in October, but like I said, they’ve been really popular. Every day I’ve been getting loads of emails asking about them. We’re going to introduce VIP spray tanning days, where they come and learn how to spray tan and then come and meet me after. We’d sit down together, have a bit of lunch, and talk to me, as a therapist, so they can pick up tips.
Is helping other people start their own businesses an important part of your life?
Everyone always asks me about how I started out and I love what I do. When I go back to the salon now, there are still times I think ‘oh I’d like to do a manicure, I’d like to do a facial, I’d like to do a massage…’ but honestly, I’m so glad that I’m like that because it means that I’ve still got that basic instinct, I’ve still got a passion for it.
Do you get to return to that much?
I did it the other day actually – a day of all nails and the slots got booked up in five minutes, so I got through about 25 girls I think!
Do you have a mantra or motto you live by?
No not really. I’ve got OCD, that’s all I’ve got! The motto would be I clean the house all the time! I do like to clean.
Does that not damage your nails though?
It does, and that’s unfortunate, but it’s worth my house being clean.
Do you still live with your parents?
No I’ve got a little apartment which I’m renting for six months. I do love renting but it’s also six months of washing, cleaning, tidying etc by myself so I feel like I’ve almost become a mum but it’s really helped me.
Have you got any other property?
I’ve bought three houses, two of which I’m renting out at the moment and the third one is being done up beautifully, with an all modern design, as I do want to enter the property market as well. I think it’s important because when TOWIE dies down, and the whole ‘Essex thing’, I’ll still have all the businesses that I have now, as well as a fall back. I think it’s important to have something behind your sole businesses and property is an amazing investment.
How much input do you have with the design of these properties?
I do all the interior, but I find that I’m not as good at that as my mum, so she does help me! She’s great at picking things to go with each other. Once we’ve done them up, we sell them on and I love doing it.
We’ve noticed you model all your own clothes. Why is this an important aspect of building the brand?
I think it’s very important because if you get to know people, you also get to know what their style is and what kind of clothes they like to buy. People know that I wear my own clothes; magazines will write ‘Amy wears her Bridgete dress’ and that’s great exposure. My dresses are fitted, gorgeous and adorned with glitz and glam, and I think that represents me well, and in turn, attracts customers in a better, more honest way.
How do you deal with the critics?
You know with anything you’re going to get criticised, of course you are, but I’m a very strong person. There are times I do think about comments and think ‘aww that’s got me down’ but you’ve just got to learn to deal with it. After appearing on a show like TOWIE, you have to accept you’re going to get a lot of criticism for the things you do away from the show.
What kind of comments did you get when you originally appeared on the show?
When I first appeared on TOWIE, people said ‘she’s fake, she’s a wannabe,’ and the truth isn’t like that at all. I was and am a beautician, and a workaholic, that’s it. At the end of the day they are talking about you, so that at least has to be a positive thing.
How are you planning on spending Christmas?
This year is going to be a very traditional family Christmas. My cousin Harry is coming over and we’ll probably all gather at my mum’s house – I think it’s my mum or aunt’s turn to cook for everyone so that will be nice – we take it in turns every year.
Have you ever cooked the Christmas dinner?
Never! I might have a go next year, but in all honesty, I’ve only just learned how to make fajitas, let alone a roast dinner!
You’ve released some new dresses for the festive season. Can you tell us about the current range?
Let me show you and talk you through them (fishes out her iPad). So for Spring/Summer, we had some pretty little dresses and for Christmas we’ve introduced some long gowns because it’s quite a glamorous season for parties. Red is a dominant theme; I love the colour myself and it’s closely associated with Christmas. We’ve got some black items with sequins, which is great for red carpet events and one that’s become known as the ‘Jessica Rabbit’ which has been a big seller for us.
What should every Christmas party dress have?
Some sparkle! It needs to be stylish, sexy, and accompanied with some Amy Child’s eyelashes!
It was in 2010 that you became well known for appearing in ITV2’s The Only Way Is Essex. Do you miss being in the programme?
It’s an amazing programme. I absolutely loved being on it and in a way it did make me; everybody knows me as ‘Amy Childs from TOWIE’ so I am grateful for that. There are lots of elements I do miss about the show – simple things like having a laugh with Sam for example, but I have done so many other things now, I think I’m happy that I’ve moved on.
Who do you keep in touch with from the show?
I see Sam a little bit, I saw Billy the other day, I saw Mark and had a catch up with him, I speak to Arg, Gemma, Lucy – she actually lives round the corner from me in the same block of apartments – so we’re still quite close! We all still live in Brentwood in Essex so it’s not hard to see each other!
TOWIE clearly provided you with a fantastic platform. Will you ever return to the show?
Never say never! I think it’s still a great show so maybe a little cameo might be good in the future.
Are there any other television shows you want to appear on?
I’ve done Big Brother, and I’ve had a go at my own TV show before. I’d never do the jungle because that’s too scary but there is another show I’m doing coming out in 2014 however I can’t say much about that. It’s a very different show for me, and I am very scared, but you’ll find out why very soon. Maybe we’ll talk about that next time!
Do you not find reality television a bit intrusive?
Yes, particularly with Big Brother, because I wasn’t used to it and sometimes when it’s first thing in the morning it’s like ‘oh my god, you’re filming’ but it’s okay in the end.
You won the Award for ‘Personality of the Year‘ at the National Reality TV Awards in July 2011. What is it that you think people love about you?
I don’t know! I’m just myself and I have a laugh – I think that’s what it is. I don’t take myself too seriously – I do looks-wise! But personality-wise I think I’m very relaxed and approachable. Once someone said I wasn’t approachable and it really upset me! It was only one person, but I feel I am so approachable to everyone. After being on TOWIE, I actually find that on the whole, people approach me more. To be honest, I don’t really like talking about myself – I think that’s a question you have to ask other people, not me!
Why do you think someone would say you’re not approachable then?
I’ll admit, I do like a bit of a pose and a pout so I suppose that can put some people off but I’m just really normal and down to earth.
We’ve heard your heroine is Katie Price. Can you tell us what is it that you like about her?
When I was on TOWIE, a lot of comparisons were made between me and Katie Price. I’ve always admired her as a businesswoman, but I never wanted to be like her. She was involved in horse riding, whereas I am involved in beauty; I have my own tanning products and dresses but she has a book and children, I don’t have those so there are differences.
Has your lack of qualifications ever hindered your progress?
Well I was never good in school. I had dyslexia so I did struggle but my mum always taught me that as long as I was a nice person, I’d be okay.
There are some things to do with the business side that I don’t really understand but I’ve got my mum and dad with me who tell me ‘this is this’ and ‘that is that’, which is really lucky. I still struggle now with the business side, and the accountancy, but the other side, the products, the designs, the service, I can talk about forever.
I’d get Es and Ds at school, even though I tried really hard, but I got on really well with my teachers. They knew I was really sure of myself and confident. I remember one time, I was talking about beauty in French, and I did quite well and got a B in the subject, so that showed pretty well how much I loved beauty!
What was your first job?
My first proper job was a beautician. When I was thirteen I just started off doing a bit of cleaning and when I was sixteen I did my NVQ level 3 spray tanning courses then I worked in a salon straight away. I remember though that I didn’t want to work on real clients until I was amazing. Nails, spray tanning, everything had to be perfect before I could do it.
Did you always know you wanted to be a beautician?
When I was six or seven years old, I used to go to work with my mum and I used to love being there so much. By the time I was twelve or thirteen I knew what I wanted to be; I knew I was going to be a beautician. I loved all the make up, the nails, the creams, the massages, and my mum used to tell her clients, ‘if you give Amy a pound, she’ll sit and massage your hands while you have your hair done’.
When I was older, I got a job as a Saturday girl in a beauticians, and then when I was sixteen I went to a private beauty school so yes, I’ve always known. I know that I didn’t want to do hairdressing, but I knew I wanted to do beauty! I could talk about beauty all day long, especially now, with the manicures, the pedicures, the branded skincare range… I could talk about it all day!
What products do you use?
We use Crystal Clear A list, Shellac, HD eyebrows… I know what I like in skincare products. I get lots of samples for the salon so I try it all out and then make a decision about what to use.
What’s the next big beauty trend?
Everyone always asks me this, but I honestly don’t know. Obviously I introduced the Vajazzle which no one had seen before so I think the industry needs to do something like that; bring something new to the market that hasn’t been seen before. I still can’t believe it – people love vajazzling!
What other markets would you like to enter?
I always said I’d never do clothing. So when I launched the fashion line, that was a very big thing for me. Property is currently under development; buying it, doing it up and then selling it on and for the future…maybe I’ll consider doing menswear.
Why did you launch a clothing line?
When I was in TOWIE, everyone used to tweet me about my clothes, why I was wearing it, where I got it from, what was my favourite outfit and why and then when I was in a Big Brother, it was ‘where did you get your tracksuit from, where did you get your onesie from…?’. After that I got offered endorsements and everyone was coming to me saying do you want to be the face of this brand new company or this brand so I thought all these people, they make so much money, and I get an endorsement payment so I thought why don’t I produce my own collection?
You recently redesigned the website. Why?
I had a meeting and asked what others thought about the site and they said they thought it was a bit too young. We kept the purple because I loved that colour for the brand but we’ve made it a bit more demure.
What do you enjoying doing when you are at home in Brentwood?
I love seeing my friends, going out to dinner, and just having a nice glass of wine and chilling out. I never quite switch off; I’m always thinking I’ll save that site for later, or that photograph has given me an idea for a new design so my mind is always working. I’m so glad it is though because it shows my passion and my love for what I do.
You’ve clearly always had a solid idea of what you want to do, but what would you say to those who have no clue?
Keep trying to find out what you’re good at and what you enjoy. I’m quite lucky that I’ve always known what I wanted to do. As an example, my brother never knew what he wanted to do and now he’s working with my dad which he really enjoys, so you never know how things will work out.
Is it not difficult working with family members?
Being in the public eye as I am, I think it’s important to work with people you can trust. I work with my best friend at the salon, and sometimes with the business it is a little bit harder to work with personal friends or family but if you now they work hard with the best interests of the company, then it can work. That’s what makes a successful business; it’s all about the staff.
What do you look for in your staff?
Reliability, a great CV and a great personality because you have to be able to promote yourself, and be able to comfortably talk about the products to customers.
If you work for Amy Childs, you have to be the best, because at the end of the day, it’s my name that’s associated.
Apparently you’re interested in being a X Factor judge. Why is that?
I’d love to be an X Factor judge, and get glammed up all the time and talk about music! I can’t sing, but I love all kinds of music, from Dizzee Rascal to Michael Buble. Plus I love all the dresses they come on the show in.
Who’s your favourite to win in the current series?
I love Tamara. I think she’s going to win but everyone has to vote for Sam Callaghan as he’s from Essex!
Can you give our readers some tips to live and work successfully?
Get on with everybody, create a great work environment, have great staff and work constantly. When you have a business, work should be your main priority, but have a laugh and enjoy what you do, because if you don’t, then there is no point.
Finally, how do you prepare your Winter wardrobe?
I love big jumpers, winter coats, lovely scarves, nice wooly hats and UGG boots – which aren’t really glamorous but so very comfortable in the colder season, which is what I like to be!