Guest Writer 300

How one therapist created hand care products for key workers

By Guest Writer | 05 June 2020 | Feature, Health & wellbeing, Tech Talk

Spa Butterfly Hand Cream

Beauty therapist, Beverley Braisdell, shares the story of fellow beauty pro, Emma Harvey – who has created a hand cream and serum for NHS frontline staff & key workers…

Spa Butterfly team (L-R): Emily Ollerton, Rachel Williams, Rebecca Williamson, Bethany Naughton, Emma Harvey, Jessica Orlans

When I saw what my amazing friend and former colleague Emma Harvey, of Spa Butterfly, Wigan, had created during her time in lockdown, I knew it had to be shared.

Emma is a modest soul, who’s the embodiment of all that is fantastic in our industry. She’s a passionate, knowledgeable advocate that uses her skills and influence to embrace change, yet ensures that it’s always to the highest standards. If not, she will shout about it from the rooftops to ensure people listen – and they do!

Emma trained in beauty therapy 26 years ago and fell in love with the industry. Her first job was a salon inside a four-star hotel at the tender age of 16. She moved on to be head therapist in a brand new spa a few years later at the age of 19. This is where her love of professional products was born.

At the age of 21, she became area manager/trainer for the wholesale brand, Ellisons. Her passion for training a new generation of therapists flourished as she travelled not just all over the UK, but Europe too. After the birth of her first son she decided to complete her teaching qualification at the college where she trained. Emma continued to work for the college for 15 years, sharing her vast knowledge and experience with countless students, always insisting on the highest standards.

During this time she opened two salons, one being the Spa & Private Training Academy, which is now her main focus. Fulfilling the calling for upskilling professional therapists, while employing some of her past students, she worked to the highest professional standards and etiquette to grow her business. She is the North West training centre for Skinny Tan and has worked behind the scenes of Sky TV’s series ‘Brassic’.

Emma passionately believes in the standardisation of everything we do, as we are in an industry where we can easily injure someone if procedures and techniques are incorrect. This is why she wanted to help other therapists, especially during the unprecedented time of the Covid-19 pandemic. Emma has been working with professional bodies on advice and guidance on the ‘Re-Opening of Salons’ and has been inundated with messages from therapists wanting advice.

While busy on the advisory side of the industry, Emma has also been busy creating a ‘gift for NHS workers during the lockdown. Her interest in developing this ‘gift’ was evoked when some of her clientele, who work in the NHS were sending pictures of their dry hands and asking for help and recommendations on how to address it. The images of their hard working hands upset Emma, who says, “Their hands looked so sore, tired and broken and since I knew exactly how to help, I made a phone call to a contact I know to see if it was possible to create a product together.” The answer was ‘yes’ and Emma got busy creating and packaging.

Q: What are the key products you’ve chosen & why?

Emma: I needed to develop the products quickly. I initially came up with just two, a hand cream and a serum, as I knew that some people would need a more intensive product. The hand cream is thick in texture, so it needs to be applied very little, as and when users feel they need it. The serum is applied on problem areas such as patches of dry flaking skin and can be applied when required to soothe specific areas with a full hand application undertaken before bed with the hand cream applied over the top to intensify the action. Within days, people started seeing beneficial results.

Q: How quickly did you get the products formulated & ready for distribution?

Emma: As with any professional product development, it has to go through a chemist and all legalities in order to sell/distribute to the public and I was very fortunate that through my industry contacts, it could be quickly done. I knew which ingredients I wanted to use and I was adamant that the product had to be vegan-friendly and not tested on animals.

The main ingredients of the hand cream are sunflower, sweet almond and calendula for soothing and healing. For the hand serum I added vitamin E. I wanted the products’ aroma to be stimulating and uplifting, which I hoped would also help the mental health of people who may be struggling during this unprecedented time. So I chose two of my favourite smells, lime and orange. I’m so happy with the end result, every batch of product is delivered to me freshly made and the smell is unreal.

Q: What about packaging & sustainability?

Emma: I wanted the packaging to look modern, with its own brand identity, but also hard wearing for sustainability, so I chose tins and glass bottles. I wanted to offer a refill option, so when clients want to purchase another they can simply clean out the tins, I then sterilise them and refill at a reduced cost, however I’m refilling them free for NHS staff in the locality.

Q: How did you decide who to distribute it to first & why?

Emma: I listed all clients that had been in contact with regard to their hands and started to make a list of the hospitals they worked at. This turned out to be eight local hospitals and hospices. I felt this was enough to start with. Since during lockdown I’ve not been able to claim any government grants/funding or loans for my salon, I had to sell the retail items I had on my shelves to part-fund the handcare products, as well as adding in some of my own personal funds. To date, over 200 hand creams have been given to NHS staff.

My initial aim was to get products out to NHS staff as quickly as possible, so through my clientele I managed to get into the local hospitals within about a week. I was very lucky and fortunate to have their help.

Q: What is the future for the handcare products?

Emma: I hope there’s a huge future ahead for these products, as they will be my main handcare products in the spa, so I can carry on offering them to clients. I’m already looking to expand my range; the next product will be a moisturising hand wash to complement the other two products. I currently carry Elemis, The Gel Bottle and Jessica products and I believe they will all sit together well.

Q: What’s the future for your spa business after lockdown?

Emma: This is a tough one…I’m currently going into week 11 of closure or ‘pausing’ as I like to call it. As I’ve have gone without any government help as yet, I’ve really struggled financially, although the furlough scheme for my staff has really helped. I currently employ six beauty therapists and we will all return to work soon; I have to believe that. I’m extremely fortunate to have such an amazing client base which has been so supportive by purchasing products and vouchers for future treatments.

I’ve now rolled out the handcare products to purchase in the salon and the response has been amazing, with over 200 orders from clients within two days. I’m totally blown away. I also offer a ‘Beauty Club’, which is like a gym membership. Basically, clients pay a monthly fee and get a monetary value of treatments, discounts off products and a lot more. Some clients have continued to pay their membership to support my business, even though I told them to freeze it. These kindnesses I will never forget. I struggle with my mental health and I’m not at all afraid to talk about it, so I’ve had to stay busy, for that is what I get a buzz from; it’s my medicine.

I’m grateful to all the industry bodies that have done an amazing job at keeping professionals updated; it has really shown what can happen when people come together.

NHS staff that have used the handcare products comment:

At work I’m continually hand washing and using harsh alcohol gel, which further strips my skin, often leading to dry cracked and sore hands. The rich hand cream repaired my hands in just a few days and my skin feels soothed and hydrated. I used this religiously in the evenings after long shifts – loving the scent of the oils and the texture of the product, which left my hands soft, nourished and feeling protected.” Alison Murray, Maternity Matron, Liverpool Women’s Hospital

As a key worker, I’ve got to use the recommended hand sanitiser multiple times throughout my working day, which has caused significant damage to my hands and fingers. I’ve been unable to wear my wedding ring due to this. I’ve now used the Spa Butterfly hand cream and night time serum for the past few weeks and they’ve made a dramatic difference to my hands, thanks to Emma’s amazing products.” Katie Longmate, Hospice Nurse Specialist at Wigan and Leigh Hospice

Beverley Braisdell

Article by Bev BraisdellHE consultant, international private trainer/guest speaker, author, C&G industry advisory board member, FE advisor, HABIA ambassador

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