With September upon us and the new term (new you??) vibes that brings, it can leave us feeling either raring to go and ready for ALL the things or a bit less than and lacking in that get-up-and-go feeling. With that in mind, I am super excited to restart the featured guest articles with one of my go-to people, both for being a natural beauty guru and for her amazing insights and brilliant business mind.
Kirstie Garrett is the founder of the natural beauty brand EBO and luxury wellbeing retreat ‘The Vitality Retreat’. Kirstie’s been treating Hollywood A-listers, professional athletes, stressed out Mums and busy professionals for over 20 years with her legendary aromatherapy and holistic treatments.
To say I’m a fan of Kirstie, both as a friend and a creative business peer, is an understatement. I am thrilled she agreed to be interviewed and I am certain that no matter what industry you are in or thinking of going into, her insight and fascinating story will help you along the way.
Hello! Tell us who you are and what you do.
Kirstie, Founder of ‘ebo‘ a skincare and wellbeing brand and of ‘The Vitality Retreat‘ a luxury wellbeing retreat business. I co Founded Balance Me 17 years ago (remain a founder shareholder but not involved in the business) As a qualified aromatherapist and massage therapist, I have been treating clients for 30 years and currently run a fortnightly clinic near my home in the New Forest and a monthly clinic in Knightsbridge, London.
Why did you decide to set up your business?
I have been practising, teaching and promoting well-being and self-care for 30 years. With ebo, I saw a gap in the market for authentic, quality, British-made, eco skincare and wellbeing products that were affordable for everyday use and make a real difference that is more than skin deep.
With The Vitality Retreat….again, what I do here does not exist anywhere else at the price…which is why we have a 90% re-booking rate!
What drew you to this field?
I don’t know why but I have always been fascinated and soothed by nature and plants. I remember making rose petal perfume (petals in water that went mouldy very quickly!!!) when I was about 8 years old.
Selfcare was instinctive to me and always actually on a more emotional level, more than skin deep. When I qualified as a therapist I realized I was good at sharing and teaching others to look after themselves too.
What has been the biggest challenge since setting up your business?
There are loads of challenges, universal to manufacturing like prohibitive MOQs, fluctuations in raw material pricing, the pandemic closed stores and clinics and retreats BUT…
all of this is just problem-solving….as a small brand, I can be very nimble and adapt and normally find positives out of the negative, just with more effort.
So, the biggest challenge is keeping my mind and body and spirit energized and positive consistently, whilst maintaining some balance in my daily life also.
What motivates you?
Nature. The power of renewal through seasons.
Who do you admire within your industry or as a business role model?
I am inspired by anyone who stands up and gives it a go.
My modern-day heroine was Ruth Bader Ginsburg
How do you deal with stress and big challenges?
Dog walks normally. Taking time out in nature, breathing consciously and changing my perspective. I always up the self-care too..using essential oils, to soothe, and calm fears or anger or frustration.
What is the most challenging and easiest part of your job?
I really don’t find anything business-wise that hard. I don’t want that to sound cocky, I just mean that my perspective is, that it is just a job. I have learned to spend time communicating fully across all levels of production, distribution, customer service, events… and be sure to ‘close the circle. I just tick my list, do the best I can and when mistakes or situations arise deal with them, hopefully as a decent human being!
I’m really passionate about well-being and self-care and sharing simple life-enhancing solutions and I find it easy because I 100% believe in what I am offering.
The hardest part is switching off. When you run your own business, I’m not sure you are ever really ‘switched off’.
What skills have you found vital to your career?
Patience and perspective. Which, by the way, did not come naturally to me, but I have gained it now and it’s life-changing.
How do you manage your time?
I start computer work at 6 am, doing the most crucial, brain power stuff.
I walk the dogs every day I’m home for around an hour – I live in the countryside ten mins from Stonehenge. It keeps me grounded in nature and the transience of life.
I work at my computer normally in the mornings and then generally do more blue-sky stuff in the afternoons/evenings.
Clinic days are obviously different and I try to take Tuesdays off to hang out with my young niece and nephew and rest my brain a bit!
Living alone I only have myself to think about, which can be amazing for focus, but also dangerous for overworking.
What are your goals for your brand?
I have new product launches planned for June, September and next Spring… More lovely products that make it easy to incorporate self-care and well-being into our daily lives.
I am excited to have a very full calendar of pop-up events all over the country this year, where I can meet customers and introduce ebo… This has been a great way to grow our website sign-ups and start ongoing relationships with customers.
Retreats are full steam ahead for 2023, I have a great team and lovely new venues!
What does success look like to you?
I recently declined an approach from Anthropology.
I launched Balance Me in the Top Shop Flagship store on Oxford Circus…I don’t want to go down the route of partnering with huge retailers, which may sound strange, but…
I know what I want my weekly life to look like running ebo and The Vitality Retreat.
Success is happiness and I’m really happy with the balance I have now.
There is nothing wrong with wanting a Lifestyle Business as opposed to global domination!
How does your culture/background influence/benefit your work?
I was taught to be hard working and tenacious and have always had a really strong sense of having to be able to look after myself.
My father left us and my mum had to work really hard at several jobs to keep things running.
I nearly drowned in my twenties and I remember a switch flicking in me that we are just passing through, nothing is forever and we don’t know how long we have.
Not in a morbid way…in a go-out-and-do-it way!
What would your advice be to those wanting to start their own brand/have a career in your industry?
Be authentic and give it a go, but love your product 100%. If you only love one of them 100% just launch one.
What’s your proudest achievement in your career so far?
As a therapist, I’ve treated top international athletes who have said they could not be on the field or the board every week without me…
In my clinics I make people feel better…I’ve just released a frozen shoulder after working just over 5 weeks with a client…I had an 80 yr old come for a facial last week and she was emotional at the natural face lift effect it gave her…
I get amazing feedback on how products change people’s days…..It’s a great business to be in for the feel-good factor!
What do you think I’d be most surprised to find out about you?
Full disclosure…we are very close friends…so I doubt much would surprise you!!!
What would be your personal tagline?
WANHTFA (we are not here to f*ck around) both in business and life in general. Please read in a West Country accent!
Unlock an industry secret for me
There is not one product out there that works for everyone… which means, even in a flooded market, if you find your authentic USP, anything is possible!
Thank you so much Kirstie for your inspiring answers (and possibly the best tagline ever!!), unlocking years of wisdom and being so open with your replies.
If you have any comments or questions for Kirstie, please leave them below. You can also find her and her amazing products here:
If you are an industry insider, have great advice to share and would like to be featured on the blog, please contact me here
To see how we can work together, book a 15-minute discovery call here
See you in a few weeks with my next guest and brand founder! Deedee xx