The spa industry is changing every day. Much of that is thanks to a pantheon of inspiring women. They are making it more accessible, more meaningful and more effective at supporting the wellbeing of individuals. They have also been instrumental in inspiring Spabreaks.com’s own founder, Abi Wright, in her vision of a more accessible spa industry. So, in honour of International Women’s Day, we celebrate some of the spa industry’s most inspiring women.
Sue Harmsworth, the founder of ESPA, is an inspiring industry leader. She founded ESPA at the age of 47, and continued at the helm of the company into her 70s. She stepped away from the brand in 2018, but continues to work hard and push the boundaries of the spa industry. ESPA continues to be a thoroughly modern brand, aimed at bringing holistic therapy to modern life. It’s that ethos that the spa industry as a whole has taken much direction from. For example, it is in many ways thanks to her that spa treatments for pregnant women are now almost mainstream.
Julie Bach is the founder of Wellness for Cancer, a registered charity that advocates for patients and survivors of cancer. Working with brands to train therapists to offer a personalised wellness service, her objective is to bridge the medical and wellness worlds together. Her goal is to go beyond a one size fits all cancer protocol that has historically limited the spa industry. She is a pioneer and has worked for more than 15 years to make the changes we are seeing today.
Driven by a passion to fight injustice, Jennifer Young is a mum, businesswoman, intellect and all round nice person. She is also breaking down barriers and making a huge difference in the lives of people affected by cancer. She created her first skincare line for cancer patients, Defiant Beauty, at the request of nurses at her local hospital. Designed for people while they’re going through cancer treatment, it is scent free and carefully crafted with all the ingredients to make sure they’re safe to use. Her products also tackle key skin issues that often occur as a result of cancer therapies. That’s cracked skin, breaking nails, sore cuticles, skin discolouration, chapped lips – the list goes on.
Michelle Hammond is Founding Director of Spa Business School. She also has a wealth of operational experience in spas, having worked in many International markets. She has a passion for learning and delivers high-level training for a number of leading hospitality and spa brands. It’s thanks to her that we have such beautifully trained therapists in our midst.
Elaine Williams is the Director of Natural Therapeutics at Grayshott Health Spa. Her experience and knowledge really is second to none. A wonderful, soothing and reassuring presence, she is qualified in osteopathy, naturopathy, acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy and advanced massage. She is also a registered general nurse and has a Bachelors (BSC) in Psychology. She previously taught at the International College of Aromatherapy in London and spent two years at the Osteopathic Centre for Children in London. There she specialised in Cranial Osteopathy. She has now spent more than 20 years at Grayshott Health Spa and has won a catalogue of awards. They include Spa Traveller’s Top UK Spa Therapist and one of the Telegraph’s top ten therapists in the world.
In 2016, Tracey Woodward became CEO of Aromatherapy Associates, the aromatherapy based spa brand founded by the late Geraldine Howard. An intimidating role to fill, Tracey was undoubtedly the right woman for the job and she has shone in the role. Having made her own name in the beauty and skincare industry, she is credited with building the Aveda brand in the UK. She also worked as commercial director at Urban Retreat Spa at Harrods and Harvey Nichols. She was general manager for Modern Organic Products, brand manager for Donna Karan Beauty, and worked at Marks & Spencer, where she helped redesign and develop the beauty department. She stepped down from Aromatherapy Associates in December 2018 but continues to be an ambassador for the brand and a respected voice in the industry.
The Managing Director of Made for Life Organics, created in Cornwall, Amanda Winwood is a positive power force. She credits her famed ‘pants of power’ – a concept she created for herself when going through a hard time – with much of her success. An inspiring business woman, she took a failing business and turned it into an authentic luxury organic brand. However, central to her work is her desire to improve the spa industry for anyone with cancer. She has pioneered highly acclaimed therapist training, empowering therapists to adapt treatments to suit individuals. She works painstakingly on research, and consistently sticks to her ethos of giving something back. She does this primarily through the charity she established in 2008, the Made for Life Foundation, which provides support for people with cancer and their carers.
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