[7 MINUTE READ]
Happy Friday all and welcome back for another interview! We hope you are all managing to keep your spirits up during this tough start to 2021. This week we have been thinking a lot about our skin and how we can best support it and our general wellbeing during all of this stress.
Thankfully, we had an expert to help us in our endeavour. Earlier this week we spoke to Katie White, the Facialist and Director of Re:lax LDN. Re:lax LDN / Relax London is a skin studio in Hackney that dedicates itself to supporting the skin from within, topical skincare and lifestyle adjustments… So just a small feat then!
So, to hear more about Re:lax LDN / Relax London and Katie's background, just grab your coffee, take a few minutes of ‘me-time’ and keep reading!
Finally, we are thrilled to offer all our readers a special discount for Re:lax LDN. Get your code at the end of the interview. We hope you enjoy!
"I was 25 when I quit my job, retrained and started my business, I had no big responsibilities and I honestly didn’t think too deeply about it. I just leapt!"
Welcome to CAROLINAGMX Katie! Could you start by telling me a bit about your childhood and how you feel it has influenced you in your role today?
I grew up in rural Dorset with my parents and sister. My parents have their own business, so starting a business of my own felt very natural to me. I am very lucky to have them as mentors today! My mum is Peruvian and South American women take beauty very seriously; some of my earliest memories are watching my mum do her skincare routine and makeup.
I think growing up in a very rural part of the world influenced my love of the power of natural remedies. I used to make potions from petals and plants that grew in the gardens surrounding my school. Natural medicine was always very popular and well-accepted in those parts. Combining my love of beauty with the natural world felt like what I was destined to do.
Wow. You can definitely trace that passion back to your early years then! So, once you were older how did you make your start in the beauty industry?
Well, it is interesting because although I always loved beauty, I did kind of fall into the industry. After graduating from university, I was trying to find a job and then I was sent for an interview at Elizabeth Arden via a recruiter. They offered me the role of Account Assistant! I learnt so much about the industry, business, products, launches, sales, marketing, PR from that job. My team and boss were amazing, so I feel very lucky to have had that as a foundation.
That sounds like a wonderful place to learn the ropes! So when did you decide to start up Re:lax LDN / Relax London and why? Was the timing important?
I had been at Elizabeth Arden for about three years and although I loved my job I just knew there was something missing. I wanted to build something of my own. During this time I had also been having my fair share of skin issues. I tried to find someone to help me but honestly, I was really struggling; I tried lots of lovely but superficial facials, the doctors and dermatologists approach was far too aggressive and at 25, I couldn’t afford celebrity facialists or Harley Street specialists. That is when I saw a gap in the market for accessible, effective and non-aggressive skin treatments that address any skin complaints with a 360 approach. I decided to train as a nutritionist, facialist and holistic therapist. I was 25 when I quit my job, retrained and started my business, I had no big responsibilities and I honestly didn’t think too deeply about it. I just leapt!
That is so inspiring! It is true that your twenties are definitely the time to experiment and go for it! In what ways does Re:lax LDN /Relax London consider sensitive skin and sensitivities throughout the treatment process and when selecting ingredients?
We work with all skin types and complaints including sensitive skin and allergies so it really depends on the client and what they are reactive to. Initially, we will try to figure out if there is anything that is making their situation worse such as skin care products, perfumes, laundry detergents, stress, diet, pharmaceutical drugs, environmental factors, as all of these things play a part. We would then avoid anything they know their skin to be sensitive to (essential oils, acids, friction, heat) and tailor the treatment to the client’s skin.
Aftercare is also hugely important. We advise on topical skincare and dietary factors - for example, adopting a low histamine diet for allergies or introducing anti-inflammatory supplements such as quercetin or turmeric - depending on the client.
I love how tailored the process is and how you consider lifestyle, rather than just products. We are really passionate about sustainability and what businesses are doing in that area. How does sustainability factor into Re:lax LDN?
At Re:lax LDN, we only work with sustainable and ethical brands who use biodegradable or recyclable packaging and natural ingredients that are kind to the planet and kind to skin. Those are really easy to find in today's market so I really think all salons should be doing this where possible.
I completely agree! Do you think people are more conscious of the ingredients in their beauty and skincare products nowadays? If so, why?
Yes, I do! I think people are becoming more conscious for a variety of reasons. There is a lot of easily accessible information via Instagram and YouTube so people can make informed decisions. There are a lot more brands shouting about why their ingredients are good for skin and not harmful to the environment which is a really interesting point of comparison in terms of natural vs beauty hall. The green beauty industry has also really upped its game in recent years so the efficacy of products and choice available to the consumer matches the mainstream skincare market. This has caught the attention of the media and consumers who are learning and making informed choices knowing that they will not have to compromise on results.
I have definitely noticed that, even from just speaking to my friends! It’s really cool that everyone is so much more engaged in what they buy nowadays. From a business perspective, I’m interested in what your biggest challenges were in starting up Re:lax LDN?
The most notable things were lack of experience, lack of confidence, no clients and no money. Retrospectively those were some pretty big challenges, but I didn’t dwell on them too much at the time.
And look at you now! So, what strategies do you think have been key to the success of Re:lax LDN?
My mission statement of making happy, healthy skin accessible to everyone is always at the forefront of any decision I make for my business. Staying true to this idea has kept us authentic in the very loud and confusing landscape of beauty.
From speaking to many founders, that seems to be the common thread. If you are clear on what you want and keep it as a priority, you will get there! What is your favourite thing about your job?
My favourite thing about being a business owner is being creative and acting on ideas. Last year, I launched an own-brand microneedling stamp called re:lax Stamp and Glow and this year we are opening re:lax Skin School to train people in our method. We also recently launched an on-demand service called re:lax Skin Society. I hope that this will become the Netflix of skincare. I am honestly still amazed every day that I get to do this!
My favourite thing about being a therapist is helping people feel confident and happy. It is such a privilege to support people, mainly women, in feeling strong enough to reach their goals.
"We are personable, honest and authentic which goes far in an industry where there is a lot of “marketing”"
That is so wonderful! Which is your favourite treatment that you offer?
My favourite is the Signature facial that combines all sorts of different techniques such as gua sha, facial massage, cosmetic acupuncture, buccal massage, microneedling, LED, and reflexology as well as wonderful products. Like all our treatments, the products we use are always tailored to the client and their needs to create the perfect treatment for them.
Do you think that personalised process is what makes Re:lax LDN / Relax London stand out?
Yes! But also our attitude; we are personable, honest and authentic which goes far in an industry where there is a lot of “marketing”.
I completely know what you mean! Could you describe your biggest “pinch-me” moment?
Whenever I am featured alongside facialists I really admire such as Abigail James, Teresa Tarmy and Sarah Chapman - I just can never believe it!
I love that! I can tell you are a big champion of others in the industry which is refreshing! What inspires you?
I find inspiration everywhere. My clients and team inspire me daily and I take a lot of inspiration from businesses in different industries as well as beauty. I love hearing people's stories and their ideas; it often guides my train of thought to something new.
Same! Storytelling is so powerful, in any industry. Could you describe what an average day looks like for you?
After I wake up, I will try to do a morning yoga class. I have a shower and wash my hair every morning which is where I do most of my thinking and get most of my ideas. I will head over to my studio which is just on the other side of the road, open up, grab a coffee and then I usually do a couple of treatments, have lunch and catch up with my team. I will spend the rest of the day working on business development, having meetings and filming content.
It sounds like you wear a lot of hats! Do you think you have a work/life balance?
Ha! Does any new business-owner have a work/life balance? I love my job, it is my obsession and joy and a big part of my life.
It is your vocation! What words do you live by?
“Fail to plan, plan to fail.”
A classic, and so true! Can you tell us about what you have coming up?
Our second skin and wellness studio is coming in April 2021. Stay tuned!