Denise Leicester, Founder and CEO of ILA SPA shares in an exclusive interview with CPP-LUXURY.COM, her vision of the future of organic based luxury beauty products.
What inspired you to create your line of organic beauty products?
I wanted to create a range of products and treatments that not only nourished the skin but nurtured a re-connection to self through the skin and the senses. I believe that sourcing ingredients with extreme purity, the energy and potency found in these plants can be harnessed and experienced in the products and that they deliver something that goes beyond ‘people expectations of what a skin care brand . And at the same time creating a sustainable business model from source to shelf.
With so many ‘’natural’’, ‘’bio’’ and ‘’organic’’ designations, which sometimes confuse consumers, what is your view on a valid international certification?
Valid international certification is essential but I feel the next evolution is in stepping beyond just a certificate looking at how ingredients are picked, distilled, benefits and growth in the(often indigenous) communities and thus developing a global community.
Which are the key ingredients consumers should look for in an organic beauty product? Are there any obvious descriptive elements which can give away a non-organic product?
Plant based ingredients .It is important to look at the ingredients listings and be aware of what else is listed. In my mind even a drop of poison contaminates and destroys the benefits of all the most beautiful plant based ingredients as it creates a conflict for the body and that is stressful at the cellular level.
How important is packaging for an organic beauty product? What is the cost ratio of such packaging in the final price of an organic based product?
Recycled luxury packaging is essential –it requires a lot more consideration and planning –with use of inks re-cycled paper plastic etc . In many companies the packaging cost far exceeds the actual product-in ila it is the other way round –our ingredients are so precious and hence expensive that our product cost is way more than the packaging. I think that’s actually the healthy way round!
Large cosmetics corporations such as L’Oreal or Beiersdorf have been introducing in the past years products with ‘’no parabens’’. Can this move be interpreted as a positive transition in terms of educating consumers to look for products which contain less chemicals and preservatives?
While it is an improvement not to have parabens there are many other toxic petrochemical that are still added and it can be confusing and possibly subtly misleading for the consumer who thinks they are getting100% natural when it isn’t
Your brand is present at the SPAs of several international luxury hotel chains. However, most of these chains still feature chemical rife bathroom amenities products. What is your view on a ‘’complete’’ experience?
This is an area I feel very passionately about and led us to create our organic chemical free range of amenities (our luxury essentials collection) . To have a beautiful organic treatment and then be given chemically laden amenities is such a contradiction.
There is a myth that some product categories such as hair treatments or deodorants cannot include 100% organic ingredients as they would lose in effectiveness. Please comment.
We are able to achieve with shampoo and conditioner but we have not pursued in deodorants etc as doesn’t appear to be possible at the moment
Your brand has been expanding rapidly internationally. What is your strategic approach in maintaining rarity and exclusivity, not to mention the quality of treatments?
a) We have an extensive and finely detailed plan of expansion which year on year we go through with our suppliers (particularly our farmers) and meeting demands. To date they have grown with us –in farming this needs careful planning for increased crops such as rose. We are always looking for new opportunities –recently, for example, we sourced organic lemongrass from Bhutan-beautiful quality and meet our increased needs, surpassing quality.
b) Treatments –although we have appointed distributors, training stays directly with ila .We have a superb Director of Spa Development, a growing team of trainers who also have ‘space’ and encouragement for their own personal development-our senior trainer for example has just completed her training as a yoga teacher which develops and strengthens her professional capacity. We are vigilant about training protocols, re training and support needed and find this is the most effective way to maintain core values and standards
Are you considering a SPA management operation with ILA branded SPAs?
Yes most definitely- the next step for ila!
Which do you consider ILA’s direct competitors ?
I believe what we offer is totally unique but nearest in the spa industry- Sodashi, Aromatherapys Associates, Elemental Herbology retail – Dr Haushka in philosophy.
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