Inspirational Woman: Clare Anderson | Owner & Managing Director, Shared Beauty Secrets & Sensory Retreats

Clare AndersonI’m Clare Anderson and I am the owner and Managing Director of both Shared Beauty Secrets and Sensory Retreats. I have worked in the spa and wellness industry since 1992 and could never see myself in any other industry. 

I started my career as a beauty therapist but quickly discovered I had an aptitude and passion for sales and marketing.

Over the years, I developed my skills working for prestigious brands such as Clarins, Decleor, Carita and Italian skincare company Gerards. I also worked for The Champneys Group, where I was responsible for developing the skills of over 200 therapists and launching the hugely successful Champneys product line.

In 2008, whilst on holiday, I discovered Lava Shells. I immediately saw huge potential to launch this innovative product into the UK market.

Acting on my instincts which I’ve used throughout my career to guide my decisions, within three months I’d registered my first company ‘Shared Beauty Secrets’ and successfully gained exclusive distribution rights for the UK and Ireland.

Subsequently, I went on to create a range of treatments which I launched to the trade at The Professional Beauty Show. That year alone I opened up 100 accounts including world renowned global spas such as Bali Leha Spa on Necker Island.

Since then, Shared Beauty Secrets has gone from strength to strength.

We have now trained thousands of therapists in Lava Shell treatments. These treatments are currently available in over 2,000 salons and spas across the UK and Ireland, and we’ve recently added our latest self-heating product, Divine Eyes, to enhance the client treatment to their sensory experience.

In 2020 Sensory Retreats was created as a vehicle to launch an innovative and luxurious holistic wellbeing brand uniquely incorporating all five senses. It includes a range of wellbeing oils and candles to be used to enhance the customers’ experience within the salons and spas.

Sensory Retreats offers an enchanting and unique journey incorporating professional quality, natural ingredients alongside mindful experiences and powerful massage techniques. It features a range of deeply restorative treatments complemented by home retail products enabling the luxurious and pampering spa experience to be extended into the home. Our symphony of self-heating Divine Eyes masks are the latest products to make it into the Sensory Retreats retail range, and we intend to expand our offering in 2021.

All our products and treatments provide an accessible gateway to connect the physical, spiritual and emotional to relax, rebalance and reset the client, whether they are in a spa setting or enjoying an at-home pampering experience.

Both brands continue to develop ground-breaking treatments, training courses and home care products to complete the sensory experience and remain at the cutting-edge of the professional spa industry.

We are proud to be led by technology and driven by our passion for delivering immersive and accessible wellbeing experiences to everyone. 2020 has been a challenging year. It has cemented in my mind more so than ever before the importance of self-care and wellbeing.

Did you ever sit down and plan your career? 

I am quite an impulsive person and get a strong gut feeling whether something is right or wrong. I think that is why I love running my own business. I was always very ambitious, but I work better with short term goals rather than looking too far ahead. Yes, I do my research, but I also have a strong sense of instinct and a passion to keep driving myself forwards.

Have you faced any challenges along the way?

Many! I don’t believe you will find anyone running their own business that hasn’t, but I have overcome them all and learnt from every challenge.

I would never have thought, coming into 2020 that the spa industry would be put on hold for months and that we’d have to really pivot our business and think so much outside the box. Luckily, we’ve emerged the other side with a new treatment, our Lava Shells Therma Bliss massage. It not only includes the hygienic and relaxing heat from the non-porous shells but also our self-heating Divine Eyes mask to enhance the sensory experience.

What has been your biggest achievement to date?

It is hard to name just one!

Setting up the business with just a £10,000 bank loan, trusting my instinct, staying true to my core values, following my dreams, building a strong brand while being a mummy is something I am incredibly proud of.

Starting our journey with such an exclusive property such as Necker Island Spa as my first Lava Shell account and to now be available in over 2,000 locations across the UK & Ireland.

I also managed to get Lava Shells profiled on TV shows such as The Apprentice and This Morning which was a huge coup and we have had over 500 press reviews raving about our wonderful Lava Shells.

We’ve massaged many high profile music artists backstage at music festivals such as Capital & Jingle Bell ball and even continued to treat many in the comfort of their own home with our Lava Shells and along the way massaged hundreds of celebs and contestants from shows including Strictly Come Dancing, Big Brother and The X-Factor. This is a massive achievement for a small company like mine and has resulted not only in fantastic “free” exposure but also a little black book of highly valuable contacts.

However, if I’m honest, the two things I feel are my biggest achievements to-date have come out of 2020!

This year, successfully launched our Sensory Retreats brand. Plus, within just one month of launching our latest product, Divine Eyes, it’s hugely satisfying to see it being retailed in so many leading spas. To date, we have secured Stoke Park, Urban Retreats, Hoarcross Hall, The Newt, Danesfield House Spa and Bannatyne Spas to name but a few as trade partners. It also affirms my initial instincts were right that 12 years on, Lava Shells treatments are still available in so many wonderful salons and spas across the UK and Ireland and have been dubbed as ‘The Most Wanted Heated Massage ‘and ‘The New Hot Stones’. But I think the most exciting thing is that we have now developed a strong retail brand, gaining hundreds of new customers in such a short space of time, during what’s arguably been the most challenging year to date.

What one thing do you believe has been a major factor in you achieving success?  

When I want something, I am relentless in working to achieve it. Things don’t just happen for you; you have to be prepared to work really hard and keep up the momentum in the face of adversity.

I never rest on my laurels and I’m continually making improvements to my business. I also passionately believe in giving back as much as possible. For me, it’s not always about the money. It’s about the lives you can change along the way. It’s such an incredible feeling, and I feel grateful that the right people have come into my life at the right time to join me on this journey. At the heart of business have been some incredible collaborations.

How do you feel about mentoring? Have you mentored anyone or are you someone’s mentee? 

There are a couple of highly successful business people who I’m fortunate enough to have in my corner and whom I can bounce business ideas off. So yes, I am still a mentee in that respect.

I don’t necessarily see myself as a professional mentor. However, it’s something that I’d love to do more of in the future. I feel that there’s still so much I want to achieve in my own business.

However, I have been instrumental in nurturing, developing and supporting talent along the way and many people who’ve worked in my businesses have gone on to achieve their own dreams and sense of purpose. I like to feel that’s because of my own passion and purpose and how I’ve been able to ignite that in them too.

It’s contagious! I feel that I do have a knack for identifying and then nurturing young talent and encouraging them to first clearly identify and then put a solid plan in place to pursue those goals.

If you could change one thing to accelerate the pace of change for Gender Equality, what would it be?

The spa and wellness industry is a female lead industry; it is empowering to work amongst so many successful women. I love working and supporting women as they successfully make their way in their chosen profession. Having a young daughter, I absolutely want her to have the same opportunities available to her, whatever profession she decides to go into. The only thing we can change to accelerate the pace of gender equality is people’s outdated mindset.

If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self, what would it be?

Follow your instinct, believe in yourself and don’t worry about what other people think.

What is your next challenge and what are you hoping to achieve in the future? 

No-one could have predicted what 2020 had in store. I set out to launch a new five senses massage treatment, incorporating professional quality, natural ingredients alongside mindful experiences and powerful massage techniques. And I ended up with an exciting new range of retail products, focused on self-heating technology.

During the pandemic, I’ve been forced to think very much on my feet and have fast-tracked a project that I’d always wanted to bring to market. I’ve recently launched Divine Eyes, which is the first of a trilogy of luxurious and pampering self-heating eye masks. The challenge now is to take this product to the trade and consumer market and cement Sensory Retreats as the leading supplier of multi-sensory, self-curated experiences that can be enjoyed both in a spa and home setting. Our capsule collection of retail products has been exclusively developed to deliver complete immersion of the senses so whether your aim is to Relax, Revive, Recharge, Reset or Renew, Sensory Retreats will have the perfect pampering product for you.

In 2021 I feel it’s going to be more important than ever before to be kind to both your body and your mind. I very much hope that our range of self-heating eye masks and forthcoming launches will secure our place in the luxury retail market.


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