My background is in hospitality and tourism. In my last job in London I was head of tourism for Tower Bridge, then I moved to Cornwall and was joint MD of two hotels including Budock Vean. We were the first hotel in Cornwall to win a sustainability award, we did a lot of work around environmental strategy and were the first hotel in the area to introduce Elemis.
My, now ex, husband’s family owned hotels down here and although brought up in a hotel environment, he didn’t have a background in hotels. Between the two of us with our joint skills, we did a fine job of developing the business. My eldest daughter was six months old at the time and I had been offered a promotion at work but decided that having had my first baby at the age of 37, I wanted to see as much of this gorgeous little creature as possible. Living on site allowed me to manage that.
I love living in Cornwall, although running a business here can be testing at times. The challenge with Cornwall is that the traffic infrastructure leaves a lot to be desired, so a lot of my time is spent on the road! But I am sitting here now, looking across at fields and sheep grazing and I am on the outskirts of Truro, so it’s pretty cool really! I love London, but I like the quiet and the headspace of Cornwall.
When I was in my mid twenties I broke up with a boyfriend and had weekends free, so I trained as a massage therapist. I already had a keen interest in health and being well.
My mum was really inspirational and took me to yoga classes at the age of seven, which for a kid in Cheshire was quite unusual. I remember looking around this room as a child, surrounded by middle class women with possibly one of the only Indian women in Cheshire at that time, and being fascinated. I loved the scents, the sounds and watching people being peaceful.
When I was managing hotels, my daughter, Molly, was two years old and had very bad eczema. At that time I was introduced to a Dr Spiezia, who was very knowledgeable. He and his wife needed some help and so I brought the products into the spa so they were accessible to everybody. My Spa team and I created deeply relaxing almost meditative spa rituals aimed at guests reaching the parasympathetic level, which I had learned about during my 30’s.
I invested in the company and eventually I ended up buying the other investor to whom they had sold out and creating another skincare company – which definitely wasn’t the plan!
I loved (and still love) that the products were 100% organic. People kept saying that because the line was all oils and balm based that I needed to change the range, because no one would “get it”, but now they do. Fifteen years ago I was considered a raving hippie lunatic, but now I’m on trend! Hurrah for the growing interest in wellbeing.
My background is very people centred – I love people, so the business has never been just about the product, it’s been a far deeper thing than that. It’s about what you do while you’re on this planet. There are some amazing products in the market, but I love that our range works really well on everyone from our youngest user (a three month old with dermatitis) to people with really sensitive skin because of their purity.
The purpose of Made for Life™ is inextricably linked with this planet. I love that we are authentically organic, we promote organic and we don’t like 43% of foods have pesticide residues in them (Government testing in 2015). If everybody does something small and buys organic, then we will achieve change.
At the Innovation centre in Truro where we are based, you will see that we have large glass containers filled with herbs and oils sitting in the windows. At the heart of every product we still have a maceration process which takes 28 days to infuse the oils, herbs and flowers to extract the botanical content. There’s something about the time, care and energy that goes in to this process that makes the difference between a good product and an amazing product.
Organic means that you’ve got products that haven’t been affected by the use of pesticides in any way. The Soil Association certification is stringent, so there are a lot of other rules that come into place, for example you can’t animal test and have complete traceability. The biggest issue for me is the reduced usage of pesticides on plants. This is one of the reasons we have an issue with diminishing numbers of bees.
In terms of consumption, we should be more mindful given that the skin is the largest organ in the body, and you absorb around 60% of what you put on the skin. Made for Life Organics products are truly organic. Unfortunately, UK legislation says that you only need 1.75% of ingredients to be organic to claim the label, but our team utterly believe it really is important to be authentically organic.
In its simplest form, the only way is to make sure there is a certifying body stamp on the packaging. If you try to read the label, unless you have 20X20 vision and a science degree, you’re not going to understand it. If there’s a COSMOS or similar certification stamp on it, then you’re on good ground in terms of knowing that it’s the real deal.
It was an area I had worked on from 2003, creating treatments that were accepted as appropriate with oncology experts. In 2008 I went to an event attended by a group of women who had been told they were clear of cancer, and were being advised what to do to move forward. I was there to present our range of organic, non-chemical based products and during the day, provided a number of foot and hand massages. You have amazing conversations with people when you do that. To cut a long story short I was inspired and set up the Made for Life Foundation to provide support for people diagnosed with, and recovering from cancer.
Since then we’ve had about 12,000 people go through the doors at our Made for Life events. We have also carried out research and linked up with Plymouth and Exeter Universities to run numerous days for people across the UK that focus on giving confidence back.
It’s been an interesting time. The company has almost doubled in size in the last 12 months; I am hugely grateful to my amazing team for helping make that happen. I’m very lucky. As a result, we have some fairly major contracts (that I can’t yet talk about) providing training to enable the spa industry to open their doors to anyone with cancer. We have trained around 300 therapists in the last year. Our intent is to at least double that in the next 12 months.
Our focus is very much on wellness or being well, and in terms of the treatments that we offer, we’ve got beautiful additions that we’re launching. An amazing formulator has joined our team and we’re going to be doing extensive research working with Plymouth University. The other thing I am doing, with my husband Geoff, is buying a very beautiful old farmhouse in Spain that we’re going restore to offer retreats in Spain.
Smile first thing in the morning and think how much I love this life, then go and walk on the beach with my dogs and the people I love.