Banbury-based beauty business sees award success after overcoming Covid pandemic challenges

An award winning Banbury-based beauty business has overcome multiple challenges of the Covid pandemic to see success through the development of a new product - the self-heating eye mask.

By Matt Elofson
Thursday, 9th December 2021, 10:23 am
Clare Anderson launched the family-run Banbury-based independent beauty business Shared Beauty Secrets in 2009, and its sister company Sensory Retreats last year.
Clare Anderson launched the family-run Banbury-based independent beauty business Shared Beauty Secrets in 2009, and its sister company Sensory Retreats last year.

Clare Anderson launched the family-run independent beauty business Shared Beauty Secrets in 2009.

The company is most well known for its self-heating Lava Shells which allow therapists to provide a continuous and seamless heated body massage.

Clare said: "We have successfully trained over 10,000 therapists in treatments available at over 2000 spas salons in the UK and Ireland."

But Clare's award winning business was hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic. With salons and spas closed, she's had to make some very hard decisions to keep the business going through the pandemic, which included reducing staff numbers.

She said: "When Covid hit, spas and salons closed instantly no one was getting treatments so we had no revenue stream yet very large overheads and bills to pay. Suddenly overnight I had to look at my business model as we were predominantly a supplier to trade. Unless I found a solution quickly we would not survive Covid shutdown."

The pandemic led her to launch a new company called Sensory Retreats.

With over 25 years’ experience in the luxury spa and skincare industry, Clare recognised a gap in the market to develop new sense-based massage treatments and retail products, enabling the spa experience to be extended into the customer's home.

Clare Anderson's Banbury-based business Sensory Retreats has made the shortlist for The Beauty Awards 2022 with ASOS. The Luna self-heating eye mask product has been shortlisted in the Essential Wellness category.

Clare added: "To continue with our self-heating theme and to offer a product for at home use, I decided to make a self-heating eye mask. We launched it in September 2020, and it has just flown.

"It helps your mind relax which can enable a better nights sleep. It has been said the soothing heat can help with headaches, and the great news is anyone can use it. Our masks are safe for children as well as adults. To see more reasons why they have taken off and the hundreds of 5 star reviews visit www.sensoryretreats.com

"It allows people to surrender their senses. Our masks encourage users to stop and reset to take 25 (minutes), to relax and revive. We want you to give yourself permission to switch off."

Clare has developed five heated eye masks, each with their own unique look and scent, including rose, lavender, jasmine and chamomile.

Clare Anderson's Banbury-based business Sensory Retreats has made the shortlist for The Beauty Awards 2022 with ASOS. The Luna self-heating eye mask product has been shortlisted in the Essential Wellness category.

Not only were these products a lifeline for Clare and her business, but also her customers, salons and spas, who were unable to open for many months during 2020 were able to offer the eye -masks to their clients who were missing out on their spa experiences. The spas now include eye masks in their treatments to enhance the experience as well as retailing to their clients.

Each eye mask comes with a QR code with a unique meditation and a sound healing track

After surviving the pandemic and seeing success with the new self-heating eye masks she launched a giving-back scheme over World Kindness Day last month.

Clare added: "We added a free eye mask with each order for World Kindness Day.

Luna eyes mask with discount code (photo from the Sensory Retreats team)

"What I like to do is make people feel good, if I can. For me, the joy from it all comes from being able to help others.

"We are proud to be a Banbury-based business and would love to support and collaborate more with local small businesses.

"Our eye masks are perfect for a little ‘me’ time. They also make good Christmas gifts, stocking fillers or staff well-being gifts.

"If you are a small business please get in touch as from now until the 20th Dec 2021 I am happy to offer trade prices rather than retail so any business that would like to gift their staff our eye masks so please reach out to me directly on [email protected]"

After the success of the eye-masks Last month Sensory Retreats have recently launched an industry-first Divine Glow self-heating face mask. Each gold-foiled cloth mask heats up when unwrapped and placed over the face using specialist thermotherapy technology.

The new Divine glow face mask just won a Get the Gloss Beauty Award 2021.

Luna Eyes mask (Image from the Sensory Retreats Team)

You can order any of the self-heating eye masks through their website here: www.sensoryretreats.com.

Clare added: "We’re now proudly stocked in some of the UK’s most prestigious salons and spa’s including The Soho House Group, Champneys, Spa Illuminata at Danesfield House, Carbis Bay Hotel & Spa and the Urban Retreat in Knightsbridge."

She was also profiled in the Vanity Fair magazine earlier this year in August, which can be read here: https://www.vanityfair.com/london/2021/09/women-at-work-clare-andersonSensory Retreats has also made the shortlist for The Beauty Awards 2022 with ASOS. The Luna self-heating eye mask product has been shortlisted in the Essential Wellness category.

Voting has opened to the public, and anyone can vote using the following web link: https://www.asos.com/discover/beauty-awards/#/vote/body-soulThere are a host of prizes on offer for voters who fill in their details after casting their votes – from two tickets to The Beauty Awards 2022, a £500 voucher to spend on ASOS Face + Body products and five jam-packed beauty goody bags up for grabs. The winners will be announced at a star-studded awards ceremony and gala on February 22, 2022 in London.

Clare has also launched her own competition, which says that if anyone has voted for them to send the email confirmation from Asos to [email protected] and they will also be entered into a prize draw to win a year’s worth of Luna Eye masks.

Clare and her team from Shared Beauty Secrets and Sensory Retreats has amassed a large celebrity following.

She said: "We’ve been lucky enough to cross paths with lots of lovely celebs over the years, notably through our work backstage at events including the NTA’s, MTV music awards and we have been supporting Capital FM Jingle Bell and Summer time Balls for many years where we are very proud and fortunate to be the Lava Shell massage partner to all the artists and their backstage teams.

"We’ve been selected to offer this service for many years now and have developed strong personal bonds with many of the celebs we’ve met in this capacity with our team of Lava Angels being invited into the celeb's homes to treat them personally. It’s such a huge privilege. We’ve become known as the company who deliver luxurious and pampering massage experiences.

"Not only have we been on tour with Rita Ora, but we’ve also regularly been invited into the home of Perrie Edwards to treat her along with her family and friends."

The success her company has seen coming out of lockdown has left Clare amazed and overwhelmed.

She said: "The last few weeks have been some of the most rewarding of my career, which has included the ASOS nomination, a further Get The Gloss nomination, plus, our Lava Shell massage has just been accepted to Soho House chain.

"I’m so grateful for all the support that I’ve received along the way. Not just from my trade clients but also my friends, family and my small but incredibly loyal team who have helped bring my vision to life.

"Looking back and reflecting on the past year I feel immensely proud and grateful. Behind the scenes there’s been a lot of dark and challenging times and a lot of hard graft.

"But finally, I have started to see some light at the end of the tunnel, and it feels like opportunities are opening up. Just 12 months ago I thought I was going to lose my business, and here I am today, telling you the story of our latest nominations of our eye masks and incredible collaborations for Lava Shells such as the Soho House Group.

"It’s been a rollercoaster few years and I pray we can stay on top and we don’t see a drop again in spa treatments and sales due to the latest government restrictions.

"Whatever the next few months bring, I do know however I will try and stay motivated, focused and positive as whatever happens I know in my heart that sharing our well-being gifts and giving people our products to help them relax, destress and sleep makes me very happy.“