Dr Leah Totton: Co-Owner Dr Leah Cosmetic Clinic
Dr Leah Totton sprung to our attention as the feisty, competent and ambitious winner of the 2013 series of BBC1’s The Apprentice.
Beating off tough competition, Leah won the much-coveted and fiercely fought prize of £250,000 and, perhaps most valuably of all, the partnership of Lord Sugar. She has since set up and successfully launched Dr Leah Cosmetic Skin Clinics, with her first premises now open in The City. Join us as we talk taboos, self-esteem, striving for perfection and working with the UK’s highest profile entrepreneur…
My Little Black Book: Leah, you’re a qualified medical doctor, which is obviously an excellent foundation for your cosmetic work. But what inspired your transition from medicine to Botox, chemical peels and dermal fillers? Was it a purely financially driven decision?
Dr Leah Totton: I must confess, I really am not financially motivated at all, money has never been my god. I am a woman’s woman; I like treating women and helping them feel more confident and more fabulous. I am also passionate about safety and I believe my presence in the non-surgical cosmetic sector, and the light that The Apprentice has shone on the lack of regulation in the industry, has been a very positive thing. I continue to campaign for stricter regulation.
MyLBB: Very commendable and much needed, from some of the horror stories we hear about. Was this sector a dream you’d harboured for long before you entered The Apprentice process?
LT: I had considered cosmetic medicine for a long time, but applying to do The Apprentice as a way of branching into it was not something I had been thinking about for very long. I applied not expecting to get on the show so it was a pleasant surprise when I did!
MyLBB: Throughout the show you appeared consistently confident, pragmatic and competent. Is that how you felt during filming? Or was it a case of you being a serene swan on the surface, but not quite so calm underneath?
LT: I am pretty serene, to be honest. I think medical training, and dealing with life or death situations, equips you to be pretty calm under pressure, and confident and assertive in your decision making.
MyLBB: Were you pleased with how you came across on the show?
LT: I think I’m a lot warmer and much more fun in real life!
MyLBB: But did you learn a lot of valuable business lessons from The Apprentice process?
LT: Yes, I learnt a huge amount. Sales is not something I had much experience of, so it was great.
MyLBB: Wow, for someone with hardly any sales experience you did remarkably well! Once you’d won, did your original vision for setting up your clinics have to be changed or adapted to fit with how Lord Sugar saw things working?
LT: Yes, we made two key changes to the original business plan: the name and geographical location. In my original plan the clinic was to be in my home country of Northern Ireland.
MyLBB: And would you say winning the show has changed your life?
LT: Yes, it really has.
MyLBB: Does Lord Sugar have much involvement in the day-to-day running of your business, or does he leave you to it?
LT: I run the business day-to-day.
MyLBB: Some would say the procedures you offer in your clinics, such as botox, facial peels and Lipomed, are still pretty controversial. How do you respond to those sorts of comments?
LT: It is 2014. If women and men want cosmetic procedures, who am I or anyone else to judge them? For me it is about providing a safe haven for people to undergo cosmetic treatments should they so desire.
MyLBB: Cosmetic surgery – rhinoplasty specifically – has been all over the media this week after the suggestion that Olympic gold medal winning swimmer Rebecca Adlington has had a nose job. Why do you think such procedures are still so taboo?
LT: I believe in patient autonomy and personal choice and I don’t feel it is my place or right to judge anyone for having a cosmetic procedure. I have been incredibly surprised at just how taboo cosmetic procedures still are in the UK; I am not sure why this is.
MyLBB: We understand you carry out “non-surgical” nose corrections at the clinic. What does that entail?
LT: We offer a non-surgical alternative to the conventional ‘nose job’. This involves the use of a temporary filler to reshape the nose, and is ideal if the patient has a deviation of the nose (i.e it appears crooked) or if there are lumps or bumps on the nose. It gives very good results with no down time and no need for anaesthetic.
MyLBB: Do you offer any newly developed treatments in the clinic?
LT: We offer the bespoke Dr Leah facial which is only available at our clinic. It is a combination of various electrical facial treatments and products to give a fantastic complexion. It is priced at £120 per facial and is our most popular treatment!
MyLBB: And have you had any of the procedures done on yourself?
LT: Yes, I have the Dr Leah facial once every week and I am three peels into a course of chemical peels. I will also be considering the 3DLIPOMED to shape up for summer.
MyLBB: It really is quite refreshing to hear a professional in this field admit to having procedures themselves! Has looking immaculate always been important to you in your working life? Perhaps that wasn’t so easy when you were practising medicine?
LT: In a hospital setting I would never wear make-up or have my hair down. In the clinic I do try and apply some make-up most days, but we are very busy at the minute so I don’t always have chance!
MyLBB: And finally, what can we see in the near future for the Dr Leah business? Do you have other clinics opening up in new locations, for example?
LT: We are definitely keen to expand the business, but I am an utter perfectionist and will not even consider opening another clinic until this one runs without me needing to be here every hour.
Yet another inspiring business leader, not afraid to strive for the goals she has set for herself and proving once again that women are continuing to break through into so many areas once considered a purely male domain. Business is no longer about our gender but our ability, aspiration, and ambition.