“Dear Younger Me,
What do I know, that the younger me didn’t? After 35 years in this business…? It’s that all anyone really wants from anyone else is to be loved, nurtured and respected. That’s what this industry; what wellness, the whole thing is really all about.
Think about what will make you leap out of bed in the morning; what’s your purpose? When you’re young it’s so challenging to know. I’ve come to understand that we’re all put on the planet to do something. What makes me eager to start my day now is knowing we change lives with our Cancer Touch therapy; it’s what I believe I was put here to do.
What's your purpose? I’ve come to understand that we’re all put on the planet to DO something.
I wish that the younger me knew that spas were not – and in fact, the majority still aren’t – throwing their doors open to people with cancer. When I was younger I genuinely didn’t realise this. If I could go back I’d do something sooner, make Cancer Touch Therapy integral to the Made for Life Foundation from the start. Sometimes, until things are spelled out, you just don’t see them. In the midst of one of the most challenging times of their life, people just want to feel nurtured, feel a sense of normality. They want to feel well. That’s something a spa treatment will help them to do.
You won’t come into this industry in the normal way so cherish the varied experiences that working in hospitality will give you. I started off in tourism and corporate hospitality in London, then in Cornwall. In my 20s I trained as a massage therapist; going on to learn Reiki and NLP and also an MBCT in Mindfulness. I made a transition to spa and wellness, or skincare, in my 30s, when one of my daughters had bad eczema. I was introduced to Dr Spiezia by my Spa Manager, loved the products and invested in 2003. After a rocky start I bought the company out in 2007 – I didn’t expect that!
You won’t know when you’re younger what’s coming. All you can do is be open, be flexible and be brave. Sometimes you’ll be scared, other times you’ll be brave, a lot of the time you’ll be both. I call this ‘scave’. And if you’re feeling scave the best thing to do is admit it. You can’t move on until you do.
Choose the best people to work with; and trust them
If I was starting out in the industry again, I’d say ‘make sure you choose the best people to work with; get yourself a fantastic team’. I have one now, but previously I ran around like a headless chicken, trying to do everything myself. It’ll be hard sometimes, so look after your own health. Surrounding yourself with people who share your vision and understand your business is one of the most challenging things in any industry. And what’s even more challenging is trusting them and ‘letting go’. But you must.
As a younger woman, I believed ‘I can do everything’. Now I would say, be less gung-ho – the people you work with will often be the ones to have the genius ideas, not you. And be ready to learn. Romy Fraser, founder of Neal’s Yard, will be a brilliant mentor to you, and become one of your close friends. Tracey Woodward, Fran Hayter, Jo Fairley, Cathy Ball… they’re all bloody marvellous mentors who’ll be there for you. Listen to them; act on their advice.
Be inspired by your mother. I am, so much more now than when I was young. She didn’t conform to what society expected and ran off to Spain to live with an artist when I was 13. She died when I was 16, but by then they’d set up a retreat combining art and therapy. She was aiming to do in the 70s what I want to do now – tread a different path. Make a difference.
Wonder Woman's 'Pants of Power' will save you!
You don’t know this yet, but when you’re going through a tough divorce you’ll invent the ‘Pants of Power’. And they’ll save you. I’d put them on every morning while I was emotionally all over the place, trying to run a business during a separation, and they’d get me through the day ahead. I had this mad routine in my head where I’d imagine I was Wonder Woman. It worked! I wish I’d invented them sooner.
My parting words? I can’t lay claim to it – Brian Hunter once said to me ‘all you need to remember is just stop fannying around!’ Oh, how right he was.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
Managing Director (and ‘Queen of Hugs’) at Made for Life by Spiezia Organics, Amanda Barlow developed the organic skincare company in 2003. Five years later she founded the Made for Life Foundation, a charity which centres on wellbeing for people going through cancer. Most recently, she launched Cancer Touch Therapy training into spas across the UK, dispelling the myth that ‘massage spreads cancer’. The Foundation’s inaugural Spafest gathering for the wellness industry takes place this September in Cornwall.