Date Posted: Wednesday 12th December 2018
DIARY directory recently caught up with CEO of Aromatherapy Associates, Tracey Woodward following her announcement that she will be stepping down from her role at the end of this year. Having held roles at several major brands, previous successes have included building the Aveda brand in the UK, Commercial Director at Urban Retreat Spa at Harrods and Harvey Nichols, Brand Management at Donna Karan Beauty as well as working as an advisor for Marks & Spencer, where she helped redesign and develop the beauty department. Tracey shares with us what she looks for when working with a brand, her upcoming wellbeing trends & insights and how she likes to switch off!
What changes did you implement in your role as CEO at Aromatherapy Associates over the last 3 years?
We’ve looked at every element of the business. As a brand we've been the masters of helping people sleep since the 80’s; as a collective and in-line with our owners, we mutually agreed that wellbeing and self-care is an important category. We want to be the brand that supports people through day-to-day living and education. There is so much in the media now, we wanted our content to be informative and to help people improve how they live - in the same way, our products have the ability to change how you feel.
I looked at every level of the business, from the team we had in place to the team that was needed to deliver a more meaningful direction and a leading-view on wellbeing. We are now in 52 countries with three offices located in London, Hong Kong, and stateside. The brand's offering includes - spa, treatments, education, amenities, inflight, digital, retail, third party web and our own websites. We also relocated two Refinery men’s groom locations in Central London. It’s been a mammoth task but I truly believe the team is in place and our partnerships are strong and meaningful, focusing on helping employees, as well as customers to be the best version of themselves.
Self-care & wellbeing are areas you're passionate about - tell us about any upcoming trends & insights.
I have believed for a long time that wellness comes in 10-year chunks i.e. how you behave and treat your body in your 30’s will reflect how you live in your 40’s. With this in mind, it’s been important to me to look after myself in my 40’s and 50’s in preparation for my 60’s. I want to live a long and happy life but not with an enormous disability so I have addressed the pillars of wellbeing: sleep, diet, movement and mindfulness.
At 53, I am Aromatherapy Associates core customer, I have used the products for 30 years and I now see my daughter and son at 17 and 27 using them too because they know that self-care is your first form of healthcare.
I also know that self-care on every level is going to be important, if we are going to live longer we have to make sure all working parts are up to it and that’s every part of our body from our hair to our nails.
I believe healthcare for hair is going to be enormous, as is wellness and tourism because we are looking at how we can be better versions of ourselves.
Best advice you’ve ever received?
From my Mum: "Whether you think you can or you can’t - you're right!" and from Baz Luhrmann: "The race is long, and in the end, it's only with yourself."
You work 12 hour days but say the social and work aspects are so linked - how do you like to switch off?
I love walking and meditation at the weekends - I like to get in nature and walk, it’s the best therapy. Being in the same sector for 30 plus years, my work has allowed me to build a great network and wonderful, wonderful friendships which I have so much gratitude for. I believe today, with digital work and home, the art is not separating them but allowing them to blend and blur a little - otherwise, life just becomes too overwhelming.
We have serious mental health problems happening, we need to support as many people as possible to build resilience, be able to adapt and do what they love. That with movement, good diet, mindfulness, sleep and lots of laughter, is the art of living well.
How would you like to be remembered by your teams...
As a balanced, fair and strong character that helped people succeed in life and love what they do. As a CEO I know I need to deliver success, brand energy and vision. I also know that I am responsible for putting food on people's tables and paying their mortgages - together we have to succeed so whilst they won’t always like me, I hope they respect me.
What would your Mum say about you if she were here today...
She would say "I thought you wanted to work on the checkout in M&S!" I didn’t do that but I did work in beauty at M&S and I know she would have a sense of pride to see me go from barely being able to read and write, to being involved in some of the best brands in the world.
What’s your superpower?
I am prescient, I have a feel for trends. It comes out of emotional intelligence and a love of what I do.
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