The women behind the spa world 

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Celebrating all the wonderful things that women do and that women are for International Women's Day, we take a moment to honour those in the spa industry.

This year, the theme for International Women’s Day is “Break the Bias” in honour of a collective effort to celebrate women’s achievements, societal contributions and the different roles that women play today and throughout history. 

From building environments where women can thrive to forging equality in different industries, empowering women’s wellbeing choices and celebrating those who are leading the charge, International Women’s Day is about all the wonderful things that women do and that women are. 

In the spa industry, women play a pivotal role. There are of course some amazing men in the world of wellbeing as well - plenty of them are part of our own team. However, as far as numbers go, the spa, beauty and wellness industry is home to a significant proportion of female business owners, entrepreneurs and sector professionals. In fact, according to the House of Commons beauty and wellbeing sector workforce report from 2021, 87% of those working in the industry are women. 

Women leading the spa industry  

Over the years we have mentioned many wonderful women leading the way in wellness. 

From the indomitable Sue Harmsworth, founder of ESPA and latterly the woman spearheading spa industry standards for cancer patients at the SATCC, to Jennifer Young - founder of her eponymous therapist training and skincare lines for cancer patients and now launching an empowering new approach to menopause support in the form of M+. 

Tracey Woodward is the former CEO of Aromatherapy Associates and now CEO of Modern Botany, and Amanda Winwood is the Managing Director of Made for Life Organics. The British Beauty Council’s CEO Millie Kendall and COO Helena Grzesk are game changers, named on the Queen’s 2022 Honours List

We also can’t forget our very own Abi Selby, Founder of Spabreaks.com and a driving force behind the changing representation of the spas, making the industry more accessible to all spa goers and helping spas themselves to find the support they need to thrive as well.

Abi Selby, Spabreaks.com Founder

Women supporting the nation’s wellbeing

It’s not just that the world of spa is home to a large proportion of female leaders, however. 

So often derided as a place purely for manicures and fake tans, the spa industry only in more recent years that the essential role of spa therapists, their knowledge, their skill and the impact of the treatments and rituals that they provide, has begun to be recognised as a contributor to daily wellbeing.

In this world, women find important meaning in their work as well as practicality in job roles that presented options for flexible working long before it was fashionable. The spa industry is a sisterhood, welcoming our male counterparts but also deeply proud of an environment that has been built, nurtured, protected and enhanced by each and every woman involved. 

In 2019 Co-Chairs Carolyn Harris MP and Judith Cummins MP established the All-Party Parliamentary Group on Beauty, Aesthetics and Wellbeing. It seeks to champion the industry and tackle the prejudice it experiences, citing the government action that  is needed to overcome those issues. In doing so, they represent every individual who works in the world of spa as well as all of us who benefit from the experiences it offers.

On International Women’s Day we are proud of our own women at Spabreaks.com, but we are also superbly proud to be part of a community that supports, celebrates, nurtures, inspires and is inspired by so many women. Here are a few that we wanted to name individually:

Sarah Hill

Sarah Hill, Spabreaks.com Senior Product Manager

Having joined our team in 2011, Sarah is one of the most hard working women we know. As Senior Product Manager she works directly with more than 100 spa destinations across London and the South East, helping to make sure that the spa experiences we offer with them showcase the best of everything they have to offer. She is a champion of the industry, working tirelessly to make sure spa goers have the most incredible spa breaks possible.

Jas Seehra, Spabreaks.com Senior Product Designer

Jas joined our team in 2010 as a web designer, and since then she has been the keeper of the keys when it comes to the look and feel of the site. Intuitive, caring and innovative, she’s been with us from our earliest days, and she has a razor sharp focus on making sure that anyone who visits our site feels welcomed and supported in finding the right experience for them. She’s a joy to work with, and even after all this time brings a fresh perspective to every conversation.

Alecia Wallace, Spabreaks.com Senior Sales Team Leader

Having joined us in 2015 after a degree in Forensic Science, Alecia now has an exceptional knowledge of the spa industry and cares deeply about the experience that customers have with us. She always gives the job her all and has won multiple awards within the company for her commitment. Now a Senior Sales Team Leader she looks after other members of the team and contributes to a supportive atmosphere everyday - she’s just the person you want on your team!

Bonnie Friend, Spabreaks.com Editor

Having joined Spabreaks.com in 2012, Bonnie is our in-house editor, overseeing our blog and making sure all the information available on our website gives spa goers what they need to choose the right spa destination for them. Having trained as a journalist, she’s a strong advocate of the Spabreaks.com mantra and belief that there’s ‘a spa break for every body’, she’s a champion of other women in the spa industry, and she’s passionate about sharing all the knowledge that the spa industry has to offer.


Sue Harmsworth, Founder of ESPA and the SATCC

Sue has spent her career working proactively towards an inclusive approach to wellbeing and spa treatments with unflinching energy. She has the energy of a small army, and her passion for pushing the spa industry to provide the best and most meaningful wellness support to clients is unflinching. She changed the game when she created ESPA, and in more recent years founded the SATCC (Standards Authority for Training and Cancer Care). It is the only dedicated body of industry experts providing dedicated training for spa therapists to ensure they can treat spa guests at all stages of their cancer journey. 

Amanda Winwood - high res

Amanda Winwood, Managing Director of Made for Life Organics

Amanda’s effusive energy and infectious warmth has made her a popular member of the spa community. She is deeply nurturing by nature and has been unerringly committed to improving treatments, therapist training and products for anyone with cancer or any stage of wellness. Her products are beautiful and her contribution to the industry and our collective wellness is invaluable.

Jennifer Young, Founder of Jennifer Young Training and Beauty Despite Cancer

Jennifer Young, Founder of Jennifer Young Training, Beauty Despite Cancer and M+

Jennifer is a force to be reckoned with. She is well known for her pioneering work in making touch treatments available to those being treated for, living with and recovering from cancer. She began her work in cancer touch treatments when her local NHS hospital asked her to work with them and create specialist skincare and cosmetics for those going through treatment. As a result, she launched her skincare line, Beauty Despite Cancer, in 2013, and has since developed over 300 specialist products to treat the effects of cancer treatment on the body. This year she has also taken on the menopause, launching M+ to empower women as they enter a new phase of life.

Helena Grzesk, COO of The British Beauty Council

Throughout Covid, Helena lobbied tirelessly to provide the government with the information it needed to remove obstacles to providing funding and support for spa, beauty and wellness businesses. In January, her ongoing contributions to the spa industry earned her an MBE in the Queen’s 2022 Honours list - she was general manager of the UK Spa Association (UKSA) prior to joining The British Beauty Council, and is also a UKSA policy-maker.

Sarah Camilleri, Editorial Director of European Spa Magazine

One of the most knowledgeable women in the industry, Sarah Camilleri is the founding editor of European Spa Magazine, a member of The British Beauty Council’s Advisory Board, and is another powerful woman working hard to champion the wellness industry and everyone within it and who benefits from it. We’re proud to know her.

Want to find out more about the Spabreaks.com team?

Find out more about the Spabreaks.com team

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“Lauren is Spabreaks.com's Marketing Manager overseeing everything we say and making sure that we remain true to our values. She's a passionate believer that spas have an important role to play in our wellbeing but that they should be fun as well. ”
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