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"Familiarising oneself with British business practices, consumer preferences, and cultural norms is essential for navigating the UK market successfully" - in conversation with Marine Vincent


Marine Vincent, founder and CEO of Make Me Feel and The French Pharmacy, recently won the Franco-British Collaboration Award at the 2023 Franco-British Business Awards. We interviewed her about being a French entrepreneur in the UK, the challenges of establishing a business there, and the advantages of joining the Chamber as a new member.

Hi Marine! Please tell us more about your professional experience and why you chose to establish your business in the UK as a French professional.

I arrived in the UK 18 years ago. Initially, it was a very classic story as I was following my future husband, who got a job in the City. However, I took the opportunity to immerse myself in British pharmacy by registering straight away with the Royal Pharmaceutical Society and undergoing training to understand the differences between the two countries and get ready to fully competent in the UK. Early on, I noticed the distinct approaches to pharmacy between the two countries and the potential benefits from both sides. I drafted a few business plans as it was always clear that I wanted to establish my own business one day. Eventually, I felt ready to open my first store, Make Me Feel Parapharmacie, in Clapham. The French Pharmacy, store and online followed few years after.

What challenges did you encounter when you arrived in the UK, and how did you overcome them?

My first challenge was the language barrier. I am better at maths and biology! Of course, you learn the basics at school, but becoming fluent in demanding work is difficult. It took me a few months of effort, but eventually, it wasn't an issue. The second difficulty was understanding the cultural differences and establishing myself as a foreigner. It was essential to demonstrate what I could bring to the conversation.

What’s on the horizon for next year? For your company and business in general?

For the upcoming year, our company is strategically focused on maintaining our strong growth and further solidifying our position in the market. One of our key initiatives involves enhancing our online presence and optimising our e-commerce platform. While physical stores remain the core of our business, we recognise the importance of online channels in reaching a broader audience, despite their different environment.

We have engaged a reputable company to revamp our online store, implementing user-friendly features and enhancing the overall customer experience.

Additionally, we recognise the importance of nurturing strong relationships with our brand partners and collaborators. By cultivating these partnerships, we aim to expand our product offerings, enhance our brand visibility, and deliver greater value to our customers.

Looking ahead, we are laying the groundwork for potential expansion opportunities, including the establishment of additional physical stores in strategic locations. While this expansion may unfold for the next few years, we are proactively laying the foundation and conducting thorough market research to ensure the success of these future endeavours.

What advice would you give to a French entrepreneur who wants to settle in the UK?

Advice for a French entrepreneur considering settling in the UK would be to immerse oneself in understanding and adapting to the local people, culture, and business environment. It's crucial to recognise that what may work effectively in France may not necessarily translate directly to success in the UK, and vice versa. Therefore, taking the time to familiarise oneself with the nuances of British business practices, consumer preferences, and cultural norms is essential for navigating the UK market successfully. Additionally, building a strong network of contacts and seeking guidance from experienced professionals who have successfully made the transition can provide valuable insights and support for navigating the challenges of establishing a business in a new country.

As a recent winner of our Franco-British Business Awards, you have also become a member of the Chamber. What are your expectations from your membership this year?

I am deeply honoured and grateful to have received the Franco-British collaboration award from the Chamber this year, which is a great recognition of our work. This prize serves as validation of our commitment to fostering cross-cultural partnerships and advancing our business goals. In the coming year, I hope to leverage my membership with the French Chamber to expand my professional network further and forge meaningful connections within the Franco-British business community. By actively participating in chamber events, networking opportunities, and collaborative initiatives, I aim to gain valuable insights, exchange ideas, and cultivate strategic partnerships that will contribute to the continued growth and success of our business. Additionally, I look forward to contributing my expertise and insights to support the chamber's mission of promoting Franco-British collaboration.

The French Pharmacy offers the best of French Skincare and French beauty carefully chosen and curated by our founder Dr Marine Vincent, French Docteur en Pharmacie. She is fully registered as a Pharmacist with the GpHC.

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