She’s the CEO of Aromatherapy Associates and has a wealth of spa and beauty experience, having worked with big name brands from Donna Karan to Aveda for over 30 years. But Tracey Woodward’s career hasn’t always been straightforward.
I’m writing this letter to you, my younger self, in the hope it’ll guide you and others who follow you into becoming an assured, assertive, self-aware individual.
You didn't learn to read until you were 15 years old and your future looked bleak so my first piece of advice is to go to school! You have no idea how important it is; an education gives you choices, opportunities and most importantly prospects.
Beauty counters seemed very glam to me; I remember everyone having fabulous shoes!
Now, aged 51, I’m CEO of a global spa brand… a job I absolutely love. But to get here I’ve had to work hard and push myself constantly; like my mum always said: ‘nothing is ever handed to you on a plate’.
I started my career as a Clinique counter girl in Debenhams – another job I adored. Back then, beauty counters seemed very glam to me; I remember everyone having fabulous shoes! Fresh from school, it was my first big step and a very steep learning curve. Since then, through hard work, determination and being open to learning, I’ve pulled myself up the ladder, learning lots and meeting some amazing people along the way.
Women tend beat themselves up a lot… so I would urge you to remember that you need to be proud of what you’ve achieved and shout about what you’ve done. Self-belief, integrity and mindfulness will stand you in good stead.
Women tend beat themselves up a lot… be proud of what you’ve achieved and shout about what you’ve done.
A bit of a forewarning: my toughest challenge was at Donna Karan, running the entire global beauty division. Yes, you’ll get your dream… to travel long-haul, lots, but it will be stressful. Looking back, I think I only survived thanks to lots of crying and exercising. If I could go back, offer you some guidance, it would be, don’t sweat the small stuff, ask for help and get a mentor - someone you can have a coffee with who’ll be honest with you.
This period taught me it’s good to take a job that may seem out of your depth – it pushes you to prove yourself, to improve yourself and to make it work. Even now I am certain I drive people mad as I constantly want to improve everything... I'm always asking "can we do it better?".
Beauty always grows when there is uncertainty; it's the lipstick effect... but we have never seen a world like the one we have today. People living longer, fewer young people to support the ageing population and Generation X being stuck in the middle. I believe self care will be the new healthcare.
Self-belief, integrity and mindfulness will stand you in good stead.
I’m lucky: there’s not much I would change, except to encourage you to have a better work/home life balance. I’m constantly seeking balance. Know that the ability to see, believe and achieve whilst adapting as you age is the art of living well. I am married to my best friend Tony, have three children, two of my own and one loan… my wonderful son Josh, my beautiful daughter Ava and my amazing niece Brooke; not forgetting Stanley the Dog, Thomas the Cat and Doris the Tortoise.
Life will be nothing like you imagined, it will be so much better. So, worry less, live well and enjoy every minute!
P.S. Please try and eat more salad and veg, it’s so much better for you than KFC and white crusty rolls.