Fascinating Ladies: Dr Leah Totton

Immediately I get through to Dr Leah on the telephone I am made to feel relaxed. She is very friendly and just herself, a young woman of 26, no airs and graces, nothing to hide and nothing to prove. She is sitting in a pub on her own having some lunch after a long morning spent with Lord Sugar’s accountants. She is happy to answer anything I put to her so here we go:

SH_L6143_3-200x300Had you always wanted your own business?

Well I originally studied PR and marketing at university and was always interested in finance. In fact my first job was as a cashier with Zara where I was promoted to manager which I really enjoyed and found challenging.

Now I can combine my two loves of having personal interaction with the client in my capacity as a medical doctor and getting involved in finance.

I got into the cosmetic industry actually because I saw a really unfortunate outcome of a procedure on one of my mum’s friends.

“It made me think about trying to set a standard in this completely unregulated industry”.

Tell us about how/why you won The Apprentice

Well I don’t know if it’s obvious from the edited version that goes out on TV but really from the first task you can predict more or less accurately who will be in the final, or at least that’s what Louisa and I did. (Louisa was a fellow competitor on The Apprentice with whom Leah shared a room.)

I think I performed steadily for every task but I had much less business experience than some of the others so I was probably more subdued early on. The final was very challenging having to present to some 200 people but on the whole I saw it as an enjoyable experience and an opportunity. I am lucky in that I never seem to get nervous. Also I had just come off an A&E ward in London which was extremely stressful so probably anything else was going to feel less so.

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cropped-sugar-and-leah-241x300What’s it like working with Lord Sugar?

He is just so supportive. For the first six months he was very, very involved, he would ring daily to see how many clients we had and even came with me to look at the premises in Moorgate for the first clinic. Now we are in touch weekly and I know I can ask his opinion at any time and he has put his team of accountants and IT support at my disposal. He doesn’t get involved at all on the medical side of course but is very involved in property and overall strategy.

This is the best thing about winning The Apprentice, not the capital investment but the mentorship, it’s wonderful.

What’s the hardest thing about running your own business?

I find delegating really difficult. Even though I have Lord Sugar’s team of accountants to call upon at any time I can’t stop myself keeping my own books. I even code my own software! When it’s your own brand and your name then you of course want it all to be the best it can possibly be so I feel I need to be in control. It is a real skill to be able to delegate.

What’s the best thing about having your own business?

The best thing without a doubt is to be able to create something that’s truly yours, putting your own spin and interpretation on it.

Don’t you feel you are putting even more pressure on women to have to look beautiful?

Well I don’t advocate it, but we are operating in a society where youth is the ideal for beauty, the demand for it is there, so we want to offer reality and give professional advice on the risks and benefits of the treatments available. Having the platform that The Apprentice has given me means I can actually effect change. You know, you shouldn’t go to a hairdresser for these treatments, you should go to professionally qualified people. I want to improve the overall standard in this industry and shine a light on it.

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We do only offer safe treatments; there are no known long-term adverse effects from our treatments and we do everything in the totally correct way. We don’t practise any surgical interventions; we only offer non-invasive treatments such as skin health maintenance and liquid facelifts, fat reductions and now enhancements for lips for example.

We actually have a high percentage of male clients, perhaps because of our location in the city of London.

Part of our role is to educate our patients so we always have an initial counselling session and if we feel a patient wants a treatment for the wrong reason (e.g. they have problems with low self esteem) then we will turn them away. If it’s morally or ethically wrong then we turn them away.

What’s next?

I am focussed on the clinic in Moorgate 100%. We are planning on opening a second clinic at some point in the future but I think it will be difficult to scale up too much beyond that as for me the challenge is on that personal level – wanting to see every patient myself. I am very engaged in what I am doing right now.

So what do I think when I put the phone down? I think simply that this is one very nice lady with a real passion for what she is doing. She deserves to do well and somehow I know she will; I really do think she is going to make a difference.

Click here for Dr Leah’s skin clinic