The Founder Of Natural Spa And Skincare Brand

Sue Harmsworth Mbe

The founder of natural spa and skincare brand ESPA, 72, talks about living her dream.

‘Morning is a key time for me. I rarelyget up past 6:30am and it’s often5:30am. I have a hot water andlemon to stay alkaline. Then I dostretching to keep supple and strength work.‘I’m very privileged to have my own sauna, gym andenvironmentally friendly outdoor salt pool at home.Unless the weather’s bad, I also work out hard in thewater with weights. Twice a week, I work out in thegym with a trainer (I love StephenPrice’s methodology; and use weights and TRX.‘I was very sporty and intohealth from a young age. Atschool, I played hockey forSurrey and in my 20s and 30s,I was in New York with JaneFonda and Lotte Berk, doingtoo much exercise andhigh-impact aerobics.’

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‘Before breakfast, I’ll do my skincareroutine, which is totally ESPA. Myfavourites are Lifestage Net8 Serum(£100 for 30ml;,Tri-Active Advanced Instant Facial (£58 for30ml) and Regenerating Face Treatment Oil(£69 for 30ml).‘Breakfast is normally eggs or smashedavocado on wheat-free sourdough or dark rye. Myweakness is two coffees every morning. For the lasttwo years, I’ve practised no sugar, although I do drinkwine. Two nights a week, I do a 16-hour fast so I havebone broth instead of dinner, then an early lunch,which might be a mega salad – I eateverything apart from starchy carbs.’


‘I don’t have a daily work routine– meetings can be called at the lastminute in Dubai or America as I workon the design and development of ESPA spas andresorts internationally. We own our own research anddevelopment, chemists and factory in Surrey and I stillhead up new product development. I’m also the faceof ESPA so I do PR, events and launches and I sit onthe board of The Global Wellness Summit.‘If you’re passionate about what you do, it becomesan integral part of who you are so I don’t have a t find work-life balance.I relax by turningthe phones andcomputer off for theday. I also have twogrown-up sons and six grandchildrenand I love seeing them all.I started ESPA 25 years ago,when I was 48. Before that, I built asalon business in the US and Canadain the 70s. I then ran athalassotherapy centrein France andmanaged GrayshottHall in the early 80s,bringing togetherdoctors, nurses,physiotherapists, yoga and Pilatesbefore anyone had heard of any of it.later managed cruise liners whenthey introduced spa services, thenstarted my own consultancy.The ESPA products were bornfrom a needs-led moment after I’dopened Turnberry Spa in Scotland (the first 5-star spa in the UK) and couldn’tget spa products that were natural and inluxury packaging so I brought all myexperiences together into one holisticconcept brand. It was perfect timing.

The Founder Of Natural Spa And Skincare Brand

‘There have been so many challengesgrowing the company up from nothing as awoman entrepreneur. We now have 700 spasin 55 countries, train 5,000 therapists a yearand do 5 million treatments a year. We haveover 120 ESPA products and they are 98 percent natural; the oils 100 per cent.‘In the ’80s, women were going back intothe workplace, technology was just kickingoff, people were flying more and stress wasa major issue for the first time. Mindfulness,sleep, yoga, anti-anxiety – we started it allback then and it’s gone full circle.‘I try not to look at emails after 8.30pm anddo deep-breathing exercises with ESPA oilsto wind down, then it’s bed at 10pm.’


Unwind for better sleep. Process your day in five minutes by visualising it from beginning to end in a non- judgemental way.

Do daily breathwork. Five minutes of breathing exercises and gratitude meditation helps you to de-stress.

Look after your gut health. I don’t eat raw food after 4pm, so dinner is veggies with chicken or steak.

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