Sometimes you come across people in life who make you feel at one with yourself in that present moment; Warm and comfortable. Denise Leicester is one of these humans and her distinctive attributes emanate through to her business and products.
Now the CEO of an award-winning international spa and beauty brand, Denise is an inspirational figure for women in business, natural beauty and alternative medicine.
I had the pleasure of interviewing Denise about her company, life journey and inspirations amongst other things and it gives me great pleasure to introduce you to some of my findings below.
From early childhood Denise lived in Nimes, a beautiful Southern French town situated to the South-West of Lyon and just below the Camargue region, famous for cultivating a renowned variety of Red rice in its wetlands.
As a young girl Denise had an innate love for nature, somewhat inspired by her eccentric french aunt. She enjoyed foraging, collecting healing plants, Wild Thyme, Lavender and experimenting with them from home.
From making balms, salts and tinctures in her bathroom (come apothecary), to practicing yoga from the age of 13, it’s fair to say that Denise has forever been drawn to the ethos of Wellness. She has a special gift when it came to making products that heal the mind and body.
Bringing us back to 2019, Denise has a daughter, husband and two successful companies, Ila Spa and it’s sister, Ilapothecary.
Juggling two internationally renowned brands and a family, I was extremely keen to learn how Denise manages everything, remains inspired and has successfully kept the natural, healing ethos so integral to her products throughout the journey.
How was Ilapothecary born after Ila Spa?
“It’s multi layered”, Denise tells me.
“I had an apothecary of remedies that had been created over the years but they were too medicinal for Ila. Still beautiful, we kept them for something special to develop in the future’.
With Ila Spa being a a high-end luxury brand found in exquisite spa’s, it less accessible for people. Denise expresses that she had a drive to develop something still exquisite but half the price and widely available for retail purposes, focused towards addressing the issues of today to help create environments of peace and support, restful sleep and happiness.
Having used most of the Ilapothecary products myself, as well as converting my whole household, I am a committed fan and can advocate the positive effects the products have on your mind and body. Something that initially drew me to the range are the designated names that have been assigned to each product. They immediately made me feel connected with their deeper purpose. I asked Denise about the theory behind this and she tells me that it was through the names, such as “Beat the blues” and “SOS Balm” that she wanted to promote the emotional purpose and further the impact that using the product has.
“Each product has been named to capture your inner smile, hope and joy as you connect with it’s name, number and purpose”.
What are the key messages that you aim to portray through the brand?
“Beauty is a state of well-being with ourselves”, she tells me.
“It’s not just an application of something on the skin or a perfume spray but it arises from connection to ourselves; Mentally, emotionally. It comes from feeling good inside, happy and relaxed. There is Scientific backing to the use of the Ilapothecary ingredient components, the skin is an emotional organ that is deeply connected to our emotional hearts being and love but Scientifically, pure aroma triggers the limbic part of the brain particularly the amygdala to release neurotransmitters(such as dopamine and serotonin) that affect how we feel”.
The holistic approach and ethical standing through every step of the process makes the Ila product line truly special. Denise talks me through how she never formulates products for physical benefits alone but takes every ingredient and product further, in to how we nurture and heal our minds and hearts as well. At the rurally located factory, the products are manufactured in an environment that is in itself healing and peaceful, sustaining a pure intention and the vibration of beauty .
As a female entrepreneur, what have you found the biggest struggles and favourite experiences when developing both brands?
“Like many women, I started Ila from my kitchen table and so have always done everything on a shoe string, never quite having the financial capital which has been difficult but bringing joy and love into people’s lives through our products, treatments and music has to be my favourite part as well as creating.
‘I have written to Florence at Ila to tell her not only is this the most beautiful music I have ever heard, but it truly is heart and soul moving.’
‘I am sure you have heard the saying “someone comes into your life, leaves their footprints upon your heart and moves on…” this is what you and your hauntingly beautiful voice have done for me. I have had lots of therapy over the years, mainly to do with my rigid Irish Catholic upbringing, but with your music I have been able to put things into perspective and feel really strong – “Being Loved” did it for me…. I now start my day with some chanting.’
What would be your key pieces of advice for someone trying to achieve a sense of equilibrium in their daily lives?
1. Find a yoga class that suits you and develop a small daily practice at home, making time each day to relax, either through meditation, listening to healing music or yoga nidra.
2. Take a walk in nature especially in the morning relaxes your nervous system.
3. Remember to live in today, worrying about the past and anxious about the future keeps you away from the joy of living now. You can choose how you want to think and feel today, shape your experiences and this will shape tomorrow.
Denise expresses that being aware of your needs is a vital element to happiness, beauty ritual and routines which nourish your body and soul are essential to women staying connected to their inherent beauty and joy.
As a mother with a young daughter, at what age do you believe children should begin a skincare routine?
“I think start as a baby using only pure, organic, plant based vibrant ingredients so a child has beautifully developed senses to vitality and purity and ‘feels’ the product. I had a beauty regime by the age of 8 in that I copied my French aunt’s toilette routine -using witch hazel and rose water after washing my face and always using cream on my face and body after a bath and an eau de cologne”.
Denise’s hero Ilapothecary products
27 Beat the Blues
1 SOS drops
28 Magnesium and amethyst bath soak
101 SOS balm, Feminine Happy oil
100 Fresh faced mud cleanser
Digital Detox products
If you are interested in finding out more, visiting the store or purchasing some products you can explore here; https://www.ilapothecary.com