Railing against the “inbuilt sense of condescension” that was so prevalent in the beauty industry in the late nineties (and to an extent still is now) is something she’s proud of. For the first seven years, Mecca did not show a single model's face in anything they did. Not in any of the marketing material, nor on the instore displays. Nowhere.
“Who gives anybody the right to say that you do not conform to the stereotypes of either beauty, or what you should be doing with your skin,” says Horgan. “We didn’t show models until we felt that our customer knew that we genuinely were about them.”
It’s a rare thing to be able to trace such a clear line from the culture and philosophy of a CEO, down through a business of 3000-odd staff, and see a direct impact on an individual customer, let alone see a company’s culture sustained at scale.
“It is not often as a hearing impaired woman I feel heard,” a Melbourne customer told Mecca in an email about her experience with the retailer. “For me shopping is difficult and isolating.” She recounted how a staff member at Mecca with “hilariously limited” AUSLAN tried her best to engage, communicate and welcome her.
“I got in the car to come home and began crying,” the customer wrote. "No words can express how much that interaction gave me something I so desperately needed – and it wasn’t the moisturiser.”
Then there was the cancer survivor embarrassed by her disfigurement, who actively avoided beauty shops. She reported back that while waiting for her daughter in Mecca, a staff member “offered me empathy and a chat”.
“She wanted to learn about my cancer story and we started to look at my scaring,” wrote the customer, “I bought the products but what I took away was more important to me than the make-up, it was the beauty industry taking time to be present in a very hard time for me without judgement.”
In an era where executive leadership teams talk the talk on purpose-led organisations, Horgan’s own business was doing it before it became fashionable. The brand is now deemed a ‘Lovemark’ business, which recognises high levels of loyalty and an engaged customer base, and boasts an NPS score, which measures customer satisfaction and loyalty, higher than Apple’s.
In 2018, MeccaLand, the annual beauty festival Horgan founded, reached half of all women on Instagram in Australia, 70 million worldwide, and sold 8,000 tickets in 15 minutes.