Margo Marrone is a pharmacist and entrepreneur who co founded The Organic Pharmacy with her husband in London in 2002. Today, the couple has stores in around 50 locations all around the world.
After becoming a pharmacist, she specialised in herbal medicine, nutrition and wellbeing, focusing on natural and alternative medicine.
She tells Léa Legraien about her success, challenges and passion for the sector.
Q Why did you become a pharmacist?
A I’ve always been fascinated with herbs and healing. My first job was as a Saturday girl in my local pharmacy. This was back in the day when pharmacists made lotions and potions and still used a lot of the old formulas, such as tincture of belladonna and blending tincture of thyme and myrrh for coughs.
Q What is the key to your success?
A It’s a hard question to answer. I guess the key is to innovate and make sure the quality and ethics of everything I make always has the client at its heart.
I’ve always been focused on not letting the client down. If I make something it has to work.
Q What are your biggest achievements?
A Probably getting through the first year of setting up The Organic Pharmacy with a newborn and a baby.
Q What challenges have you faced along the way?
A Being an entrepreneur comes with daily challenges, which actually never end! These include communicating with the rest of the team to ensure everyone is on the same page, working towards the same goals, making sure suppliers deliver on time, knowing what to do when they don’t and overcoming formulation and packaging challenges.
The key is to not be afraid of challenges and focus on finding solutions to these.
I’ve never faced any issues or challenges because of my gender, thankfully. It all boils down to attitude and standard of work.
Q What is the most valuable lesson you've learned?
A Setting up your own business means working hard and doing long hours. There are no short cuts and no 9am to 5pm – you’re working all the time.
The main lesson I’ve learnt is that unless you love what you do, you won’t be able to handle working between 12 and 15 hours a day so make sure it makes your heart sing.
Q What motivated you to open an organic pharmacy?
A It was really when I was studying homeopathy that I became aware of organic [products] and the potentially toxic ingredients that go into our food and cosmetics.
Coupled with my passion for alternative health, I wanted to create a place where people could come, get expert advice and have the tools available for me to treat them both over-the-counter (OTC) and in a clinic setting.
In the end, I set up a place that had health and beauty [at its heart] but really catered for the client as an individual.
Q Homeopathy is a subject that continues to divide opinions. Why are you for the use of homeopathic products?
A It is and I don’t really understand why! In Italy and France, it’s widely respected and available in most pharmacies.
I’ve used homeopathy for over 25 years on myself, my family and for more than 20,000 clients and I’ve seen the results every single time.
There is clinical evidence behind it but with all things that are different, opinions are polarised.
Q What are the key qualities of a good leader?
A Listening and allowing others to be on the journey. Communication is the key.
Q What advice would you give to women who want to be leaders?
A Just do it. Women make great leaders!
Q What makes you happy at work?
A When a project comes through and [the result] is amazing.
Q How would you describe the current state of pharmacy?
A I think pharmacy has always been, and will continue to be, part of the community.
All retail including community pharmacy is having a challenge right now so I think creating more spaces, such as areas where the pharmacist can have educational workshops or beauty areas where the clients can experience the skin care and enjoy [the service] is the key.
It’s about the customer’s experience every single time they visit.
Q What changes would you like to see?
A I’d like to see less clutter, better design and more innovation.