Introducing our Group Head of Spas, Amie Jones, the original Cowgirl...
'I joined Cowshed in 2005, about six months after Clarendon Cross opened as our first London spa. I was asked whether I’d be interested in going to work with the team at Clarendon Cross as assistant manager. The Electric had opened on Portobello so there was definitely a lot going on with Soho House. Back then Cowshed was quite unknown. People who went to Babington House or Soho House New York definitely knew of it and it had its following but I still remember getting on the tube with my Cowshed shopping bag and people looking curiously at the name!
Clarendon was like dipping a toe in the water to see if we could stand on our own two feet outside a Soho House like Babington or New York. Clarendon Cross on Portland Road is a beautiful residential location, very much a community area. It’s also a short walk from the Electric and it was wonderful to have that close association. We went into the site of a much loved local restaurant that had been there for some time so the locals' initial welcome took a little longer than anticipated! But one thing we do very well is fit in as part of the community and interact and engage with the locals. It's what Soho House is all about – knowing your customer and the people that walk through the door and establishing professional relationships.'
'Word spread and Clarendon became a destination location, you’d get the weekend traveller coming from outside of London, people coming in for a treat, they’d come in with their mum, they’d come in with the girls because it was the one and only. Now you have the various touch points, so you can come into Liverpool Street station to go to Shoreditch House, you’ve got north London, you’ve got central London and you’ve also got west London. So there’s a lot more availability and accessibility.
It was really nice to see it grow very naturally. Also the addition of food and drink was unique at the time. That came from the association with Soho House. It was a natural addition included by Nick [Jones] and Georgina Gibson and we had Sara who came across from River Café who I worked alongside for the first six months. I did the beauty and she did the food! People did go "wow you’re eating a salad right next to where there’s a pedicure happening" and that in itself was quite unique.'
'When you walk into Clarendon, there’s the kitchen, the reception, the communal table and the manicure/pedicure area - it's what we call ‘sociable grooming’. The term came from Ilse Crawford who designed Clarendon Cross. She took the concept from Turkey where beauty is very much about the social aspect, with the traditional hammam. We put a little bit of a London spin on that with an open plan space where people come and experience spa treatments.
I like to think that I’ve grown natural and organically as well! It’s always good to push yourself a little bit out of your comfort zone but for me Soho House is a very nurturing environment as well. There’s that real sense of family, everyone helps each other, no one hesitates to step in and show someone how to do something and that’s why I’ve stayed with the company for as long as I have. It’s that true sense that we work together as one to get to the end goal. I see that a lot with the operations side of things and the Houses, in the spas. When you do a new opening that’s really where it comes to life.'
'I wouldn’t say I necessarily have a favourite mood – it depends on what’s happening at the time, which is the beauty of having the variety of our six moods! But I’m a massive fan of Grumpy Cow – I’m not going to lie! That one I do tend to go to, it’s a very uplifting oil.
The Lavender Gentle Cleanser is my cult Cowshed product – I love the smell, the texture, the feel – it’s been there from the beginning and originally had a different name. Just the smell of it takes me back to my early days of when I started with Cowshed because I still kept my foot in the door and did treatments two days a week to start with. I quite quickly realised that I couldn’t maintain that but did it for as long as I could!'
'My favourite treatment is the Cowshed manicure – it’s brilliant. Yes it’s a 45-minute treatment but the quality and the standard and the environment in which it's done, if you’ve got the time to do that, it’s just a wonderful thing to have. I also love the salt scrub and massage - I treat myself to it whenever I can, which is not as often as I would like!
The SkinCeuticals range, which complements our Cowshed offering is brilliant. Cowshed is our natural skincare offering and SkinCeuticals is a cosmeceutical brand, but the two very much do work closely hand in hand. There are also a lot of natural elements to a cosmeceutical range such as SkinCeuticals. You will have the consumer who either goes one way or the other and then you’ve got someone like me who likes to mix the two. I think it’s all about giving people the opportunity to be a bit more flexible.'
There are so many highs from my time with Cowshed – one was the opening of Babington as it is now. It’s such a beautiful location and the transfer of taking it across from the cabins to the walled garden and back to the roots of what Cowshed is about. The original spa was built in the cowshed and we’ve still got that association with Cowshed Active. Having the spa sitting almost within the walled garden gives you that sense of bringing the outside indoors. That was the first opening that I did and one that I’m incredibly proud of. I learned a lot too on that one!
I’m very proud of the teams and the people we have within our spaces. The belief in the brand from the people who work for the company. There’s a real love for Cowshed and I think that comes across in the energy and the warmth you get when you walk into our locations. We want to give off a feeling of comfort and relaxation. It's all about making people feel good. There is that buzzy vibe on the ground floor or in the manicure pedicure areas, we want people to talk, we don’t want it to be complete silence, it’s a place where people can feel completely at home.
Cowshed is coming up to its 20th anniversary this year and I think people make a few changes when they hit 20, although you’re still considered quite young! But this is a time for definite change, while still staying very true to the core of the brand and who we are. There’s a lot of love and a lot of loyalty there and there’s a lot of things that are done incredibly well and it’s very important not to lose that and move away from that too much. But at the same time the beauty industry evolves, the environment and the world change, so many things change and we are changing too.'