[15 MINUTE READ]
Good morning all and happy Friday! As lockdown restrictions begin to ease around the world, protests rage and people fight tirelessly for the lives black people, you may have been neglecting to take care of yourself. As we learn to navigate this ‘new normal’ and what it might mean for our work, our daily routines and our social lives, your personal wellbeing is paramount.
Wellbeing can mean everything from taking care of your mental spirit to taking care of your physical body. A few weeks back, we Zoom-called Simone Thomas, the founder and CEO of Simone Thomas Wellness; a company specialising in hair health and wellness. She spoke openly about the struggles she faced growing up and how she believes those challenges moulded her into the fearless businesswoman she is today. If you want a little inspo to help you walk brazenly out into this whole new world, then keep on reading. We hope you enjoy!
Hi Simone! Thanks for agreeing to chat. Could you tell me a bit about your childhood, and how you feel that has impacted where you have ended up?
My childhood wasn’t necessarily the most amazing childhood, but it wasn’t the worst either. Our lives changed overnight when my father passed away in a car accident. My brother and I then went off to private school, which was probably the best thing for us. When I was home, my stepfather who my mum had remarried was quite aggressive so I couldn’t really wait to get away. I became very headstrong and determined from a young age. This independent spirit has definitely carried through into my adult life in both negative and positive ways. Sometimes, in relationships men have asked why I can’t just let them take care of me. But, it’s a fear from my childhood and what I went through because I couldn’t rely on anyone then...The positive is that it forced me to go out there, work hard and stand on my own two feet.
Sometimes the hard situations can lead to real successes...
Definitely... Years later, my mum was diagnosed with MND. We always had a bit of an ‘Ab Fab’ relationship and then she passed away when I was twenty-seven, so that hit me hard. They gave her a year to live and she battled for nine… That was the Irish blood in her. I think that once you’ve lost both parents, there's not much that can shock or scare you. I always say to my staff; in life you either become a warrior or you become a victim.
"When I turned thirty and had a bit of a “what am I doing with my life?” moment, I realised that I wanted to help people with hair loss. I didn’t know how, but I finally realised that was what I wanted."
Wow! What a journey. I completely agree about the warrior, victim thing. Do you think that the health issues that your mum experienced influenced your interest in health and wellness? Or was your decision to enter the industry an independent thought process?
At the time it didn’t actually, because I entered a bit of a rebellious period after she passed. It wasn’t the best way to deal with it, but then I went down to Dorset to visit my brother who was living here with his new family. I decided to take the Summer to reevaluate and see what I wanted to do next, but I ended up staying down here. I realised that I really like living on the coast; it’s good for my mind. Previously, in my twenties I had had some severe cervical cells that had turned and had lost a lot of my hair as a result of the medication. My hair became very fine, I lost a lot of weight and became very anaemic. I even had to wear wigs. Then, when I turned thirty and had a bit of a “what am I doing with my life?” moment, I realised that I wanted to help people with hair loss. I didn’t know how, but I finally realised that was what I wanted.
That’s beautiful. So, how did you get your foot in the door of the wellness industry?
Well, my background before then was all corporate and telecoms, so I did some research and went up to London to do an intensive course about hair and wigs at the London School of Fashion and Makeup. Then, I set up a mobile wig delivery service for people with Cancer and Alopecia and shortly after I set up Simone Thomas’ Salon, which I have now had for eight years. We do everything from your Cut, Colour & Blowdry to a separate store which has everything to help with hairloss, wellness, bioenergetics, homeopathy.
The variety you offer your clients is fantastic. Is wellness a personal issue for you?
I would say so. Four years ago I had my first son Ashton and he had a severe allergy to breast milk and dairy. His allergy and eczema used to get so bad that he used to bleed so I started to create my own stuff for him at home.
Gosh! That must have been very difficult and scary to deal with. What do you think are the biggest factors that contribute to a person’s health and wellness?
Firstly, it's the neurological system, which was what my mum suffered with and, then it’s looking at the brain-gut connection. I always say that the gut is like the mothership because everything we put into our bodies goes through the gut and it decides whether those things are good or bad. That decision affects whether we have an allergic reaction or a normal response.
I’ve never heard it explained like that! So the gut is kind of our gateway to feeling “well” then... How did you get the idea for your wellness plans?
The wellness plans actually were born from another situation that occured a couple of years ago with my youngest son. He was a newborn and sleeping all the time, but to the extent that I knew something was wrong. Everyone told me not to worry but I knew I had to do something. Eventually I took him to A&E and they found out he had rotavirus. Because he was a newborn and his sugar levels had dropped so low, the virus had started to shut his organs down. It was really tricky afterwards during the recovery because he was not able to eat food, he had stomach issues and constipation. I wanted to create something he could use, so I created the wellness plans. It’s true that we say they’re for adults, but actually they’re suitable for children as young as two. I guess you could say that the wellness plans came from the last four years and what I have gone through in taking care of my own family. If I can give people the basis of what the body needs then everything else can come together after that.
I love that you took matters into your own hands. So what supplements do you offer and who are they formulated for?
We have three products at the moment. There are two wellness plans; these are for hair and then, we have a standalone product called ‘SkinQuencher’. This is a collagen and Vitamin C supplement for immunity-boosting. You can use it an hour before a workout or before bedtime, depending on your lifestyle.
The other two programmes are for hair growth. ‘The Biotin Hair Care Plan’ is for people looking to maintain the peak health of their hair and ‘The Ginkgo Hair Care Plan’ is for people who are losing hair. Both plans are suitable for vegans and vegetarians. If your hair is not quite right, it is usually because of something going on internally so I always say to people there is no point in buying a plan if you are not willing to make changes to your lifestyle or diet. Because hair is not a vital organ, when the body is trying to fight something it will stop taking care of the scalp cells. If you get everything right internally, then everything works in tandem. That’s why I came up with the three-step program.
That is a really great concept… You spoke a little about your son’s issues with eczema earlier. How is it that you consider sensitive skin and skin conditions through your work in the salon?
I am very fortunate as I’m trained in bioenergetics. So, if someone were coming to me with hair loss, many times they are suffering from a skin condition alongside it and we can do a body scan with the machine to find out what is going on. Often, this can be due to bacteria in the gut or metal toxicity.
Yes! Many times women come to me and they have never had an issue with their skin, but they’ve moved house. What can happen is that if the property is very old, the pipes may be copper. What happens is the copper comes through the water and the person gets copper-poisoning. As we all know, copper can irritate the skin as well as the hair.
That is so interesting. From the cases you’ve seen, what else can cause skin sensitivity or conditions?
Most often, it really is down to diet and lifestyle. Foods with MSGs and chemicals, dairy and even certain foods like pineapple. Medication or antibiotics can also cause sensitivity through gut imbalance.
That’s good to know. And in terms of your day-to-day work, what does a typical day look like for you?
Pre-lockdown would look quite different to now, as I’m obviously home all week at the moment. But on a typical Monday, I like to have that day at home to get myself sorted for the week. I do the school run and all those bits. Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday vary for me between being in the salon, seeing clients, going down to London for meetings, and having Zoom consultations. A lot of it is like a jigsaw… After reading about a customer’s day to day life for three days you can find out what they’re going through. We sometimes ask for samples that we pass through the machine for testing. Wednesdays are “Wellness Wednesdays”, so that is the day where I physically treat people. It tends to be a ten-hour day where people come into the salon and we treat them for nutrition, hair loss or whatever the issue may be. On Fridays, I tend to go into the office until midday and then I’ll dedicate the afternoon to marketing; planning the next few weeks ahead.
That sounds very busy indeed! Do you have a work/life balance?
Most weeks and months most definitely. Of course, sometimes things get very hectic and it’s difficult. But I like a bit of freedom and flexibility, and I want the same for my staff. I make sure that my staff do full-time hours but over four days instead. That’s why there are two teams. It gives them three days of flexibility to be at home and be with their families. Typically, the industry is closed on a Sunday, but we are open 6 days a week. I remember reading an article some years ago about the profitability of having a four day work week, so we tried it out and became more profitable than ever! It’s proven that having a better quality of life increases productivity.
"Our bodies are very easy to look after; it’s just about making little conscious changes. When I see a client go through a very personal journey and come out the other side better than ever, it fills me with joy!"
Absolutely! I think people are recognising this more than ever, what with the time we’ve gained from not having to commute into work. How have things changed for you over this period with the COVID- 19 pandemic?
We’ve been very lucky in that we have won a lot of awards for our supplements, but we’re not the most well-known brand, so that is something we’ve been working on as the salon and clinic have been closed. My staff have been furloughed, but I still check in with them and make sure everyone is healthy and well. I’ve also been writing new marketing policies and back-to-work procedures as well as collaborating with professionals in other industries. It’s nice to talk about other things other than hair and skin that still fall under the umbrella of “wellness”. The other day I was chatting with a professional boxer…
That is so cool! I suppose it is such a far-reaching subject and so much can fall under the term. What is the best part of your job?
Changing people’s lives, for sure. There is nothing like it! I love educating people and seeing their lives flourish as a result. Our bodies are very easy to look after; it’s just about making little conscious changes. When I see a client go through a very personal journey and come out the other side better than ever, it fills me with joy!
That is really lovely. What has been your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
I think it was the Marie-Claire Awards this year. I went there by myself and it was such a competitive category for ‘Best Hair Supplement’, but we won! It showed me that we are heading in the right direction…
Congratulations! That is such an achievement. What are some words that you live by?
“You wouldn’t put diesel in a petrol car”, “you have to nourish to flourish” and one that isn’t a quote, but I really believe in, is that you should enjoy life!
Oh, I love the diesel one! I’ve never heard that before. What’s next for Simone Thomas Wellness?
We want to create more change! I’ve been planning ahead in this “down-time” and I’ve even managed to finish my book. I’m sending it off to publishers and agents now, and we’ve also got some other product developments in the works. It’s all happening! 2020 isn’t the year we thought it would be, but we have to make the most of the time we have got back!
I completely agree! It’s nice to be able to finish those things that we usually put on the back-burner. Finally, let’s finish with a quick-fire round to help people get to know you outside of “wellness”...
The Miracle Morning by Hal Elrod. It changed my life at a really hard time. I couldn’t recommend it enough!
A series that you’re binging right now...
Defending Jacob on Apple TV. I’m not a massive binger but it is really good!
The Rolling Stones- Wild Horses is a song that means a lot to me.
From childhood, I’d say Dirty Dancing. It reminds me of my mum because she always looked like that.
Favourite form of exercise...
I follow an app with an amazing woman called Brooke Burke and those workouts are great.
What’s your mood-booster?
I’ll put some music on or eat a bit of chocolate.
What advice would you give your 16-year-old self?
Just be your best you and don’t be swayed or intimidated by the bad stuff. Don’t let one negative experience knock you down. Be who you wanna be!
I love that! Thank you so much Simone.
Like what you read? Head to Simone Thomas Wellness to shop. Alternatively, if you fancy checking out some of our previous interviews, you can find them here. All images are via Simone Thomas Wellness.
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