Coast roamer, plant-seeker and founder of organic skincare company Spiezia, Amanda Barlow distils the essence of Cornwall to soothe the senses. We talk with Amanda to find out more about Spiezia and what Cornwall means to her...
Tell me about Spiezia.
Spiezia is the first organic skincare company established in Cornwall and the first to get 100% organic certification from the soil association for the whole product range. In essence what we do is integrate science with wisdom about the beneficial uses of flowers and herbs. The entire Spiezia range only contain food grade ingredients. We make all the products at the health and wellbeing innovation centre at Treliske. The prime ingredients of the range centre on the healing power of herbs and flowers. We use oils to macerate the herbs and flowers in for a whole month. This allows the properties of the herbs and flowers infuse into the oils. They are then pressed and the infused oil (or macerate) forms the base of the product range. If you are using Calendula, for example, then over that time the healing properties of the Calendula petal will be released into the oil and also the 100% organic product created.
Spiezia – Made for Life™ products are really good for sensitive skin. Lots of people use them on their babies and also children who have had eczema. Mums also use the products when they are pregnant because they are very safe to use. We have a range of home products, a Men’s range, body range and facial range with over 35 products to date. Our products are sold and stocked globally.
What will you be doing at Una?
My background is in hotel and catering, tourism and PR and marketing so I’ve been involved with the operational side of things – taking to suppliers and working to pull the Atrium together. I’m talking to St Austell about agreeing a wine and bar list and talking to Arty form the Cove about restaurant service and menus as well as creating a Spa menu which will be available in the Made for Life™ Spa.
My role moving forward is to work alongside Damian to ensure operationally that everything is in place and create a unique offering which reflects the Una values. There is a really good fit between the values and aims of Made for Life™ treatments and Spiezia products and Una St Ives which all centre around health and wellbeing. I’ll be working with my team to ensure that the quality of the Spa treatments i are at the highest level and also ensure sure there are regular events and activities in site. We do want to get a wedding licence for Una St Ives too – it is the perfect venue for a lid back wedding ceremony. My role also involves looking at the marketing and events schedule too, so I’m talking to St Austell about running various gourmet weekends and wine weekends and speaking to people who can run yoga courses, foraging and all sorts of other activities. My aim is to ensure that the launch of Una St Ives is really excellent; that it feels and looks great and has wonderful facilities. Beyond that, it is also to make sure there are lots of attractive activities and events throughout the year to encourage people to come down and visit.
What does Cornwall mean to you?
I worked in London and did some mad, brilliant things that were great fun. I was head of tourism at Tower Bridge and launched corporate hospitality onto the walkways. I moved down to Cornwall because I had my beautiful first daughter, Hannah and Hannah’s Dad and I felt Cornwall was (and still is!) a great place to bring up children. It represents a place where nature can be wild and powerful. It’s about the people and the quality of life. It’s very different and very gentle. People are chilled and relaxed. The quality of Cornwall, in terms of food, drink and the ability to go out and see some great music and theatre is wonderful but it’s done in a way that’s more laid back. I’ve literally just got back from London and they say “you’re like a breath of fresh air when we meet you and we want to come to Cornwall”.. I love the walks around here, I love what I do with Spiezia and Made for Life I love the ruggedness of the north coast and the softness of the south. Even on a horrible rough, wet, rainy day I still feel really lucky to be living here and living this lifestyle.
Why do you think people are attracted to Cornwall and keep coming back?
Cornwall allows people to get away from it all without getting on a plane. There’s a journey involved and it’s worth it at the end. I think when you arrive in Cornwall you can shrug off all the baggage you’ve got from where you live. There’s also a comfort zone because you are still able to get quality food and drink and enjoy some of the things available at home, but in Cornwall it is just done in a more beautiful, relaxed space.
Where are your favourite places to visit in St Ives?
I love wandering round the little lanes and poking around the shops and the local artists studios and the craft shops. I absolutely love that. I really enjoy the Porthminster café which is one of my favourite restaurants in the universe and I love that beach as well. My husband, Geoff and I have a couple of small dogs and I really enjoy taking them there out of season and they go nuts on that beach and just love it. Having a steaming mug of tea on a rainy day in one of the little and looking out across the harbour is a favourite too. We also love the St Ives Festival. I have seen some brilliant bands and I think the fact it’s the local community that pull together to put that festival on is really great.
What elements of Cornishness will you bring to Una?
All the products at Spiezia are handmade in Cornwall and are artisan in the way they’re made. We go back to original crafting of herbs and flowers. In a way you have lots of artists creating and doing different things in Cornwall and I think Spiezia is very Cornish in its approach. The products are all beautiful and effective. However, we are slightly quirky and different in terms of our approach to how we make things. We make everything on site about 15 miles away from Una. The other thing, in terms of the spa side is that the treatments we have are very holistic and I think Cornwall is a very spiritual, healing place. There’s a history that suggests that’s been the way for thousands of years so the treatments focus on a Cornish mentality and approach to life which is more about quality of life as opposed to living life in the fast lane. The treatments that we provide really centre on an approach to life that’s about taking time out, catching the breath – most to the Spiezia treatments start with gentle yogic breathing. So the combination of the techniques we’ll be using in the spa and the actual products I think amplify what there is in Cornwall. It’s also very much about reconnecting with yourself. It’s easy to lose yourself anywhere in life and our aim is to bring you back to yourself and find some time and space to just relax and very much that’s what the ‘Made for Life’ spa with Spiezia is all about. And it’s about not feeling guilty about taking time out too, being able to think “this is for me and it’s ok”.
What is it about the Una project that made you gravitate towards it?
The first thing I was really attracted to was the philosophy and the ethics behind the project and the fact that it’s based on an environmentally and ecologically appropriate approach. The ethos centered on providing a place that has health and wellbeing at its heart and providing really good quality and service which aligned itself with our own company values. I just really thought it was great and exciting project and everything I believe life and holidays and short breaks should be about. I loved the fact there is space to just relax; the idea that there are going to be meadows with herbs and flowers growing which will be used in the kitchen and just somewhere that’s a really natural environment away from the everyday pressures of life. So all that idea behind Una I loved all that and thought this is absolutely floats my boat. I think that particular area is not actually in St Ives itself and the other part of all this is it will generate some really good stuff for the local community – jobs and events and a facility for local people that they can be really proud of. It’s a stunning project. I love the idea of people being able to come there, see the local area, go into St Ives and have time to relax and explore the local area which is really beautiful. I have a lot going on with Spiezia so getting involved in the way I have has been stretching at times but I feel so passionately that this is a wonderful thing to have in Cornwall to benefit the local area and attract additional income.