Dr Leah Totton shot to instant fame when after securing backing of Lord Alan Sugar when she won the BBC's Apprentice show in 2013, with the stunning success of her cosmetic skin clinic business over the last five years resulting in huge profits for the unlikely business partners.
After her central London clinic became a huge hit with customers, the inspirational Northern Ireland businesswoman opened a second clinic in Loughton, Essex and she has two more London clinics opening in Baker street in May of this year and Canary Wharf. Dr Leah also plans to launch Dr Leah Skincare line this year.
This is a success story that is showing no sign of losing momentum, as Dr Leah told us as she sat down for a chat with FemaleFirst.
Did you always believe this business could be such a success?
I think success in business is a lot to do with timing - you have to enter the right industry at the right time. I predicted when I pitched the idea of Dr Leah Clinics on The Apprentice six years ago that there would be a gap in the market for a doctor-led clinic chain that was affordably priced and that the botox and dermal filler industry was about to boom- luckily this proved to be correct.
My ambition was to come into the botox industry as a medical doctor and along with Lord Sugar establish a medical chain of cosmetic clinics which would set the standard for the whole industry- that is what we have done. We are delighted that Dr Leah Clinics have won "Best Cosmetic Clinic London" in 2017 and 2018.
Back in 2013 Lord Sugar and I faced backlash when I won the show - I was a young A&E doctor at the time and the cosmetic industry was an unregulated one filled with cowboys and Botox was seen as "taboo" - many people wondered why myself or Lord Sugar would want to become involved and he himself thought it was a big risk.
Fortunately my belief that there was a gap for a medical brand within this industry and that Botox and filler were about to become much more mainstream proved to be correct and Dr Leah Clinics have become a success.
Did you feel under pressure to make a success of the business?
There is pressure on anyone who starts a business to make it work, but for me that pressure was higher than for most entrepreneurs due to the fact I had won The Apprentice, my business partner was Alan Sugar and the amount of press attention around the business (most of which was at the time saying we were doomed to fail). To be honest, I had worked (and still do) as an A&E doctor and dealing with that "life and death" level of stress is what real pressure is- I suppose that kept things in perspective for me and I just got on with the business, did my best and hoped it would be successful and luckily it has been.
Despite the fact that coming off the back of a show like The Apprentice brought with it a lot of naysayer's and pressure, it is important to remember that it was The Apprentice and Lord Sugar's backing that gave me not only the £250k required to start the business but a profile and platform and opportunity to make Dr Leah Clinics the success that they are. For that I am very grateful.
Do you see yourself as a role model for young women in business?
I am passionate about the empowerment of women and I hope that young women will be able to look at what I have been able to achieve with Dr Leah Clinics and realise that they too could start a business and become an industry leader in their own right. Unfortunately I have very little time available to speak at events or functions but I do try to allocate time in my diary for events which are related to female entrepreneurship or women's charities.
What role does Lord Sugar play in the business?
Lord Sugar taught me how to run a business and remains on hand to offer mentorship and advice. Our relationship has evolved over the past 5 and a half years, from me ringing him daily for advice, to now checking in with him monthly at our board meeting to update him on how things are going. This reflects my growth as a businesswoman in my own right.
Tell us about this new "Dr Leah Thread Lift" treatment.
I think the Dr Leah thread lift has proved so popular because it targets facial sagging and jowls and I actually think it is that "pulled down" look of the face that is the most ageing, most people don't mind a few lines and wrinkles but it is that pulled-down look that makes people look sad and worn out.
We use around 10 dissolvable stitches (called threads) to lift the skin around the lower face and neck, and takes just 20 minutes to perform, you can go back to work after 5 days and it gives effective but natural looking results which last 18 months. It is suitable for people aged over 45, historically these are people who would have undergone a surgical facelift, but advances in non-surgical cosmetic medicine mean they are now able to have a minimally invasive thread lift procedure, with less associated risks and much less recovery time.
Could Lord Sugar try your new "Dr Leah Thread Lift" treatment?
Yes! I have already offered him the Dr Leah Thread lift treatment- if he looks 10 years younger in next years apprentice you will all know why!
For more information visit http://www.drleah.co.uk
Written by Kevin Palmer
Tagged in The Apprentice