I’m Philly and I’m the founder of HOPE in Health; a private wellness retreat set in the sleepy village of Ickenham, Greater London.
My passion for natural beauty products began in 1984 when I was 16 and went for an interview at The Body Shop. I could hardly believe my luck when the manager called me up to say the job was mine. At the time, Covent Garden was full of thriving independents and free spirits and our store was staffed by people of all ages, colours and nationalities. It was such a gorgeous, diverse, open-minded community; a family, almost.
It’s easy to forget how revolutionary The Body Shop brand was at the time: the UK’s first natural beauty company with a reputation for social activism, headed up by the outspoken and uncompromising Anita Roddick. The respect philosophy filtered all the way down to the shop floor; we were treated as partners and education was a huge part of our training. I absolutely, unequivocally loved it.
That was it. Wherever I went and worked, I was always chasing the joy of my Covent Garden days. I trained as an aerobics instructor, competed in fitness and trained figure competitions, taught dance routines and pretty much bounced through life. Then in 1991 I picked up a yoga handbook from the library – these were pre-YouTube days – and was instantly hooked. I travelled to Kerala and my mind was blown: the colours and vibrancy of Southern India, the peace and tranquility of the centre and the profundity of the teachings brought about a life-long change. I completed my training and headed back to London to teach yoga part-time.
In 2000, I gave birth to my son. As a single parent, I needed security and so I had to make a decision with my head rather than my heart: to go back to work in a senior business management role within the NHS. In 2012, however, I was made redundant and I had my ‘it’s now or never’ moment. And so my vision for a holistic, open-minded, progressive and educational wellness clinic and product line – HOPE in Health – became a reality.
Getting to this point has been the most exhilarating rollercoaster ride. Today our wellness centre offers treatments from the familiar – massage, yoga and salt therapy – to products and treatments which are barely known about in the Western world, including our frankly irresistible, Frankincense Tonic Water and Frankincense, Myrrh and Rose Otto skin care. We’re changing lives, one treatment at a time.
I’d be so honoured if you joined us on our mission: to bring about hope and health using only the purest – but potent – ingredients Mother Nature provides us with.