Founder Focus: Jules Miller of The Nue Co.
Jules Miller launched The Nue Co launched in the UK, after a US launch which saw a waitlist of thousands for its exclusive Net-A-Porter launch. We caught up with the successful founder to find out how she got her business off the ground, and how she finds balance in her day-to-day life.
What was your eureka moment?
When I was in my mid-twenties, I developed really bad IBS – I ended up being hospitalised a few times, and I was constantly bloated and uncomfortable. I was taking endless supplements to help deal with my bloating and cramps, which actually made them worse, but I didn’t give a second thought about what was actually in them. Inspired by my grandfather, who was a chemist and lecturer at Cambridge University and would quite often create his own natural supplements, I then set out to create a line of efficacious supplements merging innovative science and nature. I’m proud to say that one of our original products has become one of our bestsellers – DEBLOAT+ – because it’s helped so many who face the same problems I did.
What is your elevator pitch?
Our mission at The Nue Co. is to redefine our relationship with supplements. The way you feel about them, the way you consume them and the way you buy them. We blend innovative science and nature to drive real results within 30 days. In a category that usually struggles with retention and works on a ‘one capsule for all’ model, we create supplements that target different need states, resulting in a repeat purchase rate close to 80%. Our products drive real results that you can feel.
How did you test your idea?
Since our objective is to improve people’s health and we’re developing products that people ingest, I knew there was no room for mistakes. We received investment from Unilever pre-launch, allowing us to work with some of the world’s leading labs. We worked with clinically-backed formulas, and conducted consumer trials ahead of product launches.
What advice would you give someone who wants to start a business on their own?
Understand the value of your idea and your stock from day one. I remember in the early days being asked for sweat equity in exchange for things like payment terms and press. Things that were HUGE back then. I always said no. I knew the size of the problem we were trying to solve and believed in the need for this brand. I have fought for the business as if it were a billion-dollar company since pre-launch.
Also, find yourself an awesome number two who you can be painfully honest with. I’ve been fortunate enough to have a tremendously supportive team both at home and at work. It can get lonely at the top so you must make sure you have people you can lean on. According to a study by Dr. Michael Freeman, entrepreneurs are 50% more likely to report having a mental health condition, but rarely feel ‘entitled’ to be vulnerable.
Do you have a mentor or are you one?
During my career, I have been lucky enough to have received help and guidance. Ahead of launching The Nue Co., I wrote a list of 10 people who worked across the health, wellness and fashion industries, whom I respected and needed advice from. I cold emailed each of them and thankfully almost all of them agreed to meet with me and share their valued opinion on The Nue Co. products.
Our investors are also hugely valuable, having always raised funds from our strategic planning, whether it’s Sian Sutherland to help with our sustainability initiatives (Founder of Plastic Planet/Mio Skincare) or Olivier Garel (CEO of Unilever Ventures) to help us gain access to some of the best labs. I enjoy learning, but ultimately the final decision is down to me so it’s great to gain insight from those around me to help strengthen The Nue Co. brand.
What’s your plan B?
I didn’t have one. I couldn’t imagine a universe where The Nue Co. would have failed. I’ve always had 100% confidence in myself and 100% confidence in my idea.
What is the most worthwhile investment that you have made?
This is mega important for me; my best investment is often clearing my diary so I can have a glass of wine with a friend. Being a founder is often quite isolating as at times I find myself cancelling plans so I can stay at home and work. Even when I do go out, I find myself talking about work. It can be all-consuming and eventually it catches up with you.
Often, the best way to give my brain a break is to socialise. Other people might find solace in working out or being alone, but I find joy in being in other people’s company, and often the less I do it, the less I feel like myself.
Last year, following a really busy period at work and the death of a family member, I developed a migraine lasting three-months. I tried everything from cutting out caffeine, sugar and alcohol to taking supplements, but everyday I’d wake up with the same migraine.
Then one day, I ended up getting drunk with a friend in NYC drinking Mezcal and being silly. The next day, the migraine was gone and it didn’t come back. I quickly realised that all I needed was time to switch off and have fun with one of my friends.
What one failure are you glad you experienced?
All failures are great learnings, and I wouldn’t classify this one as a failure as such since it taught me so much about being a leader and a founder. In 2019, I had a disagreement with an investor. To this day, it’s my first and only one.
While working together, I felt his power and experience trump mine. I executed plans I didn’t believe in, purely because I thought it was the right thing to do.
For some time, I could see the way out but I didn’t do anything about it and felt that for the first time since launching the business, I wasn’t leading. As soon as I realised this, I took control of the situation and dealt with it head on. Soon after that, everything else was back to normal.
It was a good reminder that regardless of the situation, for as long as I am CEO of The Nue Co., I have to lead and my heart has to be in it.
What is coming up for The Nue Co.?
A topical supplement which will be The Nue Co.’s first ever serum, offering many skin-serving functions, in addition to a very exciting fragrance launch in November. Pre COVID-19, we were gearing up to launch two permanent stores, one in NYC and one in London, but both are now currently on hold. We’re extremely excited to have those open once it’s safe to do so.
What book would you recommend that everyone reads and why?
Lost Connections by Johann Hari.
How do you find balance in your daily life?
My secret superpower is my ability to be truly connected to my body and mind. Listen to your body—rest when you feel tired, eat sugar if you really crave it, don’t kill yourself over things that are out of your control. The MOOD multivitamin helps me a lot – it aids the metabolism of serotonin, dopamine and melatonin, and helps with stress relief. I also rely on the SLEEP DROPS, which resets and calms the body, whilst reducing muscle tension – I find I wake up from effective sleep which means each day I feel ready and happy to work. I’m not going to lie, I wouldn’t say I’ve found the balance in my daily life. I’m still working hours that aren’t sustainable, but I’m conscious how this affects my brain and body and I address it.