I’m Sarah Brown, No7 beauty advisor in the Boots Craigleith, Edinburgh store in Scotland. I haven’t always been a No7 advisor, though, and have been working for Boots since June 2018 when I started as a customer advisor. At that point it was just a Saturday job for me while I finished my last year of high school, but I quickly knew I was going to stick around. Fast forward 18 months to January 2020, and I was offered my current job as a No7 advisor, which I love! I’m also in my third year studying for a master’s in English literature at the University of Edinburgh, so I work part time on the weekends and spend my weekdays with my head in my laptop or a book.
Most of my role is beauty counter-based, although I do end up helping all over the store. I engage with any customers and use our No7 beauty advisor methodology to work out what their skin needs are and recommend products accordingly. My favorite thing to do is use our ‘Match Made’ devices, which help find the right foundation shade for a customer. It’s not all technology, though. A key part of the match is talking through what a customer is looking for in their foundation. I then bring over the appropriate foundation in their shade and apply it, and I love seeing their reaction when they see how perfectly it matches their skin tone.
While Boots remained open to provide communities with vital pharmacy and healthcare services throughout the pandemic, beauty and fragrance counters were closed during the initial lockdown, so I reverted to my customer advisor position for a while. Once the beauty counter reopened, things felt very strange—no testers, no skin matches. But gradually, bit by bit, we’ve been able to introduce more normality into our customers’ store experience.
I love sending customers away with a smile on their face, knowing I helped them find exactly what they need to look after their skin at home. I used to be so self-conscious of my skin and was on acne medication for several years. After switching to No7 skincare and cosmetics, I never looked back. I have genuine passion for No7 that I love to share with others. I’m naturally someone who loves to learn, so learning all about our products and being able to share that knowledge with people every day brings a lot of job satisfaction.
I am profoundly deaf in my left ear and have moderate high frequency sensorineural loss in my right ear. In plain terms, I don’t really hear anything in my left ear, and I can’t hear high frequencies very well in my right ear. Despite having been suspected to have had this disability since birth, I was only diagnosed when I was 18. I subconsciously taught myself to read lips over the years. No teachers picked up on it, I generally did very well at school and it didn’t impact me socially at that age. But as I got older and started working at Boots, the noisier environments proved more challenging.
When masks came into place, things became even more challenging for me. My deafness had gone undiagnosed all my life because I had been reading lips, and suddenly that was taken away from me, almost overnight. I’m open about my deafness—all my colleagues know about it. Although I have my hearing aids, they still don’t make my hearing perfect.
I’m also open about my disability on social media. That’s how I became involved in WBA’s DisAbility business resource group. I posted on our company’s social platform for team members and was approached to do an online talk about being deaf and how it affects me in my Boots life. I’m keen to raise awareness on behalf of anyone in the deaf community who works at Boots and WBA so our team members can learn how best to support or improve the support they are already providing.
The same applies to customers—many members of the deaf community shop with us, and in Scotland, masks are still mandatory in shops. We need to know how to help when possible and be willing to allow for lip reading for those who really need it. I would love to learn some British Sign Language and think it would be great if we could all learn some signing that applies to our job role, especially those who work at store level.
Surprisingly, even though I’m deaf, I’ve always been involved in music and did dancing as a child, too. I’ve been a member of the National Youth Choir of Scotland since I was 7, which brings together the best young voices from all over Scotland. My ability to sing is part of the reason people are surprised to find out that I’m deaf. What I’ve realized is that if I want to do something in my life like dancing or singing, I’ve simply had to work harder to get there. I choose my words carefully, because deafness is not a barrier; instead, simply a hurdle I have to jump over in order to reach the finish line or end goal.
Support from family or friends when you have a disability is everything, and I’m grateful for the support system I have. I live at home with my parents who are also deaf (not since birth like me, though), so they understand my struggles with masks. I also have a very supportive boyfriend who, although not deaf himself, pays attention to every word I have to say and does his best to help me when we’re out in public. He accepts me for who I am.