Lisa McGowan: “I’m not everyone’s cup of tea, but when they started attacking my business I had to take action”

Sitting down for a call, Lisa McGowan answers and immediately tells us, “I’ve a cup of tea here, but I ran out of milk so had to mix it with a protein shake. It’s going to be disgusting.”

Taking a gulp, she laughs, “It’s actually not too bad, but I wouldn’t be quick to do it again. I just didn’t have time to fly to the shop and have to have a cuppa in the morning. I can’t be without it!” There’s no airs or graces with Lisa, which is one of the things we like most about her, she just gets on with things. And the same goes for herwork as an influencer.

“I don’t preen myself or get ready to go on social media,” she says. “What you see is what you get. I’m 51 years of age. I haven’t time to be doing a full face of makeup just to go online.”

She’s just like you or me in that while she likes to get dolled up, there’s also a strong possibility she’ll be in her pjs with a messy bun and unwashed face until midday. That relatability is how she’s gained such a loyal following over the last eight years and in turned, allowed her business soar. She tells us her business is up over 160 per cent from last year, and her 2024 calendar is already booked and busy, with 26 brand deals locked in each month of the year.

As this is already organised, it gives Lisa some freedom to focus on product releases for her own brand Lisa and Co. over the coming months, and put time and effort into a personal project too; the building of a brand new home in Tullamore, which she’ll share with her son Darragh, partner Chris and their adorable dog, Murph. Over a questionable cuppa, she tells us more.

Lisa McGowan Pic: Alan Keville for VIP Magazine

Lisa, how do you feel going into 2024?

I cannot wait. I honestly can’t! Business wise, I had 16 new products out last year and I want to double that now. I don’t slow down or stop, I just want to keep going so I’ll set another goal and another goal after that.

What’s on the horizon, is there anything you can tell us about? 

More of the same. With the perfume, which was my first product, there’s going to be a full body care line. They are all being manufactured in Ireland now too, which I’m delighted about. With the clothes, I’m trying to build your essential capsule wardrobe but I haven’t been able to achieve the large scale manufacturing for those here yet. Please God we’ll be able do move here soon.

How far in advance does all this start? You must be very organised?

When you’re self-employed, there has to be structure otherwise there’ll be mayhem. In 2023, I was working seven days a week. I wasn’t getting a break, I was tired and I was cranky. Darragh was home from college at the weekend and I wouldn’t be able to spend any quality time with him. My partner Chris would look over at me and I’d be on the phone the whole time. It wasn’t fair. I made a very clear decision that I’ll be taking Saturday and Sunday off and I feel better for it! Going forward in 2024, it’ll be even more structured.

You’re obviously a very successful businesswoman, Lisa. We read you took home almost €1m in 2022. Can we ask, is business continuing to rise?

I love that the million is bandied around, sure €500 thousand of that went to the tax man [laughs]. The papers sensationalized that. What I will say though is my business is up from last year over 160 per cent.

How do you determine success, what defines that for you?

I just get on with my daily business and do my work. Success is not your bank balance. For me, I’m no different or act
any differently than I did eight years ago. Well, I certainly don’t think I do. I love what I do. I live for what I do. If success comes off the back of that, then it’s brilliant.

Lisa McGowan Pic: Alan Keville for VIP Magazine

When it comes to the influencing side of your career, what makes you stand out from others, putting you in a position to garner such a loyal following?

Sure we’re all the same, myself and my followers, we’re no different. I get up in the morning, sometimes I won’t wash my face ’til lunchtime. They’ll see me going to the gym, going about with hair that hasn’t been washed. I don’t preen myself or get ready to go on social media. What you see is what you get. I’m 51 years of age. I haven’t time to be doing a full face of makeup to go online and social media is full of that at the minute. I’m a different demographic and my core audience is a different demographic so I think that’s why I’m unique. It’s just normal, day to day life. Don’t get me wrong, I love getting dressed up and putting on my makeup, but at the same time, I could go around in my pyjamas or a tracksuit all day long.

Do you think that relatability is key to building a relationship with your followers?

100 per cent, absolutely! Going back to your earlier point about success, I think it feeds into that and that’s why people trust me because what they see is what they get. If I’m showing something, people know it’s because I actually love a product, use it or have purchased it. I’ve said no to so many things over the last eight years. I didn’t want to make a quick buck. I was a professional insurance broker, I was earning a good wage and I was doing this as a hobby on the side so it wasn’t about the money. I had no problem saying no to something and people grew to understand that about me.

When it comes to working online, are you conscious of over sharing? Do you make an effort to keep a line between personal and professional, because at the end of the day, social media is a job for you?

Absolutely! I don’t share my son on the internet. Darragh is in college, he’s 21 now so I won’t share him online. I am very conscious of what I share and I’ll always ask if someone is comfortable being in a story. Chris is getting more and more used to it, but at the start of our relationship he wasn’t into it. Over the last eight years, he’s softened a little! [laughs] Everyone has a life outside social media and what you see is only snippets of a day.

While you’ve lots of lovely followers, bullying and online trolling is also something you’ve sadly had to deal with. You even took legal action to identify someone who was making defamatory comments, proving actions do have consequences. Can you talk to us about that?

I didn’t want to draw attention to that while the High Court proceeding was going on, I made no reference to it at all on my social media channels and didn’t attend the court myself. I’m very private that way. The trolls were attacking my business. I’m not everyone’s cup of tea. Personal attacks on me, on my appearance, are part and parcel of it, but when they started to attack my business I had to take action. It’s my livelihood, my income, so of course I was going to retaliate especially when they shared lies. I was delighted it went to the High Court and Instagram disclosed the addresses. It instantly stopped the trolling on my social media accounts.

Lisa McGowan Pic: Alan Keville for VIP Magazine

Does it ever put you off doing your job, those comments from strangers on the internet?

No, and that’s why I went to the High Court because I can’t abide lies. Social media is there and available 24/7. A few years ago, juggling jobs, you were burnt out, working ‘til all hours and crashed your car due to exhaustion.

Was it a wake-up call, did it make you slow down and re-evaluate things?

Oh absolutely and it’s the reason why I have structure now! At that stage when it happened, I was also working in the insurance office. I was trying to run three jobs and couldn’t do it. Dad retired and I told him I didn’t want to take over the business. As much as I had adored working with him for 30 years, it wasn’t for me and I found a new love. Now I work Monday to Friday and switch off at weekends. It’s much easier now.

How do you switch off? What do you like to do when you’re not working?

For me, it’s about going to the gym. I can’t have the phone in my hand if I’m doing a class or going to personal training. I’m not and never will be a size 8, but the gym for me is for head space. I don’t want to go some mornings, but after ten minutes I feel like I could
take on the world. You might not enjoy doing it if a PT is shouting at you to do another squat, but when you’ve done your workout, walk or run, you feel amazing – well, I certainly do anyway!

And Lisa, we’ve heard about the new house! How is that going for you?

I’ve been here since my marriage broke up, so 18 years now. The house isn’t big enough for everyone. It was a perfect size
for myself and Darragh at the time, when he was three, but now add Chris, the dog, working from home into the mix, and it was never going to work, so I’m building a new house. Please God I’ll be in by August! It’s only down the road from where we are now, but there’ll just be more space for me and for Darragh and his friends. I’ll have you down!

Lisa McGowan Pic: Alan Keville for VIP Magazine

Gladly! We’ll start planning the roadtrip.

Of course, I’ll stick the kettle on and we’ll have a cuppa.

Are you looking forward to putting your own stamp on the place?

Oh I cannot wait! I had a meeting with an interior architect and I’m looking forward to picking out bathroom tiles, flooring etc. and I just can’t wait for that. That’s the fun part for me. We’ll get the house built and then I can get excited.

So Lisa, before we go, what’s your one big wish for 2024?

That my immediate family are happy and healthy. Everything is all about family, they always come first. Once Darragh, Chris, my mam, dad and extended family are good, that’s all that matters.

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