Leah Totton would be brilliant running Northern Ireland, says sister Jodie
What's it like being the younger sister of a high-flying businesswoman? Una Brankin talks to Jodie Totton from Londonderry whose sibling Leah won The Apprentice reality show and runs an award-winning cosmetic clinic
As children, they'd squabble and pull each other's long blonde hair. And as teens, the younger one would get into trouble for borrowing the older one's clothes and returning them stained with fake tan.
But now, in their 20s, Leah and Jodie Totton from Londonderry are working together to run London's leading beauty clinic, as well as its new branch in Essex. Dr Leah was officially recognised last week as the Best Cosmetic Practice in London, at The UK MyFaceMyBody Awards, beating off intense competition from prestigious establishments such as the Urban Retreat at Harrods.
As Leah's investor and BBC Apprentice host Lord Alan Sugar boasted this week: "This award is much deserved and testament to the fact Dr Leah Clinics are now one of the UK's leading cosmetic clinics. This was what we set out to do when I chose Leah as my business partner in 2013 and it is great to see how successful the business has become."
Winning the national award is doubly impressive given that the 2013 Apprentice winner's flagship clinic has only been in operation for three years, and with her being the youngest recipient of the award, at the age of 28. Moreover, her right-hand woman, former dental nurse Jodie, is only 24.
"Back in Derry, I really never dreamt I'd be doing this one day," says Jodie. "It's amazing. We've been so, so busy since day one; the interest has never waned. I look after the central London clinic and answer hundreds of emails a day and help with the PR and marketing stuff, too. It's really, really hectic."
Jodie's Stroke-city twang has faded but she still sounds like an Ulster native. Her look is high-end glossy glam, Miss World material. She has the same startling blue eyes and pout as her sister Leah, equally striking bone structure and a perfectly oval face - ideal for the selfie generation. Both girls are quite tall, at five foot eight, and wear the same size eight in clothes.
"I don't exercise at all but I'm going to have to start as I get older and can't eat what I like," says Jodie breezily. "Leah goes to the gym. As she says, we're both vain. We have a similar sense of style but there are some things she wears I definitely wouldn't!
"She was bossy when we were young and used to take my toys, especially my Barbie; then in our teens, she used to get cross about me taking her clothes and make-up, and she wouldn't let me hang out with her and her friends.
"But we share stuff now."
The sisters shared a flat in central London until Leah bought her own house at the end of last year. Jodie now shares a place nearby with two friends.
"We started getting closer when Leah came back home on breaks from university and work, and we'd go shopping together," Jodie recalls. "We ended up living and working together when I first moved over in 2013 and we got on very well, but I'm tidy and she's messy, though - she's always rushing about.
"It's good to have our own space but I'm glad she's only round the corner."
Having had a resounding success with her first cosmetic clinic, opened in the city of London in 2014, and the second in Essex, opened in March 2016, Leah is planning to open another in England next year, and hopes to have a Northern Ireland branch some day.
As if that's not enough, the fully qualified doctor continues to work part-time as an A&E physician at a busy hospital in central London.
It would make you wonder if her younger sister ever feels in her shadow.
"She was always very academic and got top grades at school - I did well too but she did better," Jodie admits. "I don't feel outshone by her. She has always taken in interest in what I'm doing and encouraged me to work hard. I've learned a lot from her.
"She is my boss and she's an absolute perfectionist and wants everything done yesterday, but she's actually quite easy going to work for. I'm calmer in a crisis, though, like mum. She's dramatic, like dad!"
Jodie and Leah's father Trevor Totton runs his own taxi firm. He lives in Derry's Waterside with Lorraine and their youngest child, 18 year-old brother Dale, who closely resembles Leah.
"We were all glued to the TV every Wednesday at 9pm when Leah was on The Apprentice," Jodie recalls. "It was very odd seeing her like that; I was nervous for her. She was quite quiet at the start but she came into her own after a while. She definitely was herself.
"What you see is what you get with Leah, and the sudden fame was strange, too. We'd be in a coffee shop and people would stop and ask to get their picture taken with her - it still happens. Suddenly she was a celebrity; I see her just as Leah."
Leah's new found fame quickly attracted other well-known faces to her clinics. Jodie is discreet on their identities but confirms that the stars of the reality series TOWIE are regulars.
"We have some well-known men in, too," she adds. "Men make up about 40% of our clients. They come in for Botox, fillers and facials mostly.
"Some girls come in wanting to look like Angelina Jolie but she's naturally beautiful - you can't recreate her perfect bone structure.
"Kylie Jenner's another one that's mentioned a lot. She definitely has had her looks improved by treatment, definitely lip fillers."
Like Leah, Jodie is lucky to have naturally full lips - useful for pouting in all those selfies. She's sensible enough not to go over-the-top with the treatments readily available to her.
She says: "I've had laser hair removal and a few facials, like Leah's bespoke microdermabrasion and radio frequency treatments, but no injectables yet - I'm too young and Leah turns away anyone she thinks doesn't need Botox or fillers. Mum came over for a facial last Christmas but nothing too hi-tech, whereas we get quite a few from home coming over for Leah's special Silhouette Soft neck lift. Mum's very youthful looking but dad claims we get it from him!"
Both Jodie and Leah are currently single. Leah recently broke-up with her fellow Apprentice winner Mark Wright, whom she brought home to Derry in April. The relationship split was amicable and Wright continues to work with Leah on her branding and digital marketing.
"We have similar tastes in men," says Jodie. "We're both five foot eight, so they have to be tall; at least six foot. And we like them dark. George Clooney is lovely. He gets better looking as he gets older, which is not fair. It's harder for women - but that's what we're here for at the clinics.
"There's so much you can do now to look good. We've a new non-surgical lift coming out next year which is going to be fabulous. And it doesn't involve needles."
Jodie's ambition is to work as a dental hygienist in the Dr Leah clinics.
"I've always been very interested in dentistry. I really enjoyed it and I'd love to go back to it, but work alongside Leah. She's still interested in politics - I've no interest in that at all. She's be brilliant. There would be no better woman to run Northern Ireland! And she'd get businesses flying."
Although they're settled in London for the time being, the Tottons visit home every two months or so, and Jodie would prefer to settle back here and send any future children to school in Northern Ireland - "they're the best schools".
In the meantime, the pair are off to Dublin next weekend to spend time with friends and hit Grafton Street. Then it's back for Christmas at the home of their maternal grandparents, Helen and Derek Jones.
"I've booked two weeks off and I can't wait," Jodie concludes. "I put my feet up and relax. I don't muck in at all - neither does Leah. The pace of life is so much easier than it is in London, I love it. Christmas is my favourite time of year."
The award-winning Dr Leah Clinic in London is located in Moorgate, and its newer counterpart opened earlier this year is in Loughton Essex.
*Dr Leah is planning to distribute her exclusive skincare range in selected NI beauty clinics in 2017. For enquiries, contact: firstname.lastname@example.org
Jodie gives the run-down on popular treatments on offer...
Like her sister Leah, Jodie Totton has a flawless complexion and knows how to look after it properly (she chides me for not using a good enough hydrating moisturiser).
Here are some of Jodie's favourite skincare products:
Cleanser: Obaji or mum's Nivea
Wipes: Simple Cleansing Wipes
Exfoliator: Leah's glycolic peel
Eye cream: Obaji's is the best
Serum: Sea Serum by Dermaquest
Moisturiser: Obaji, again! Or Nivea
SPF lotion: Heliocare, every day
Body Lotion: Nivea, the white bottle. Not expensive!
...and here are a few of her favourite skincare products
1. Which are the most requested beauty and body treatments at the clinics coming up to Christmas?
With the festive season approaching we notice many of our clients are starting to plan for the party season.
Skin treatments are hugely popular around this time of year so we recommend the Dr Leah bespoke facial to everyone. This luxury facial treatment it is the perfect skin pick me up pre or post the party season.... and what's more for the month of December we will be offering the treatment for £80 ( usually £120).
2. How many clients on average are seen in each clinic a day, do you open in the evenings and what are your working hours?
Throughout the year the amount of patients we see per day varies, however on a typical day in our Flagship Moorgate clinic we will see around 50 clients.
3. How can we rescue our complexions after the upcoming excesses of Christmas?
January is the time most people are looking to get in shape and many are in the mind set of new year new you. Body treatments are particularly popular after the excesses of Christmas.
Our Fat Freezing works on pockets of fat such as tummy thighs and arms and is a one off pain free treatment that gives a permanent reduction in fat. Non-Surgical face lifting known as Ultherapy is the latest results driven, FDA approve, firming, lifting and tighten treatment. A fresher and more youthful appearance can be achieved without the need for surgery or downtime and only one session is requires with results lasting up to 18 months. It is popular with celebrities and many business women and men who are looking for outstanding anti-ageing results without having to explain any tell-tale signs of treatment.