My Woman of Substance for November is a good friend and the amazing beauty expert, Tracey Woodward, who has recently become CEO of Aromatherapy Associates. Having suffered a difficult childhood, Tracey learned to read and write at the age of 14. Her choices in life were limited but she always loved beauty and her mother's advice: “Whether you think you can or you can't, you're right”. "We had nothing," says Tracey, "but my mum always looked beautiful and this is where I fell in love with beauty, joining Clinique as a consultant 30 years ago."
Her determination to succeed and to build a secure life for her two children, Josh and Ava, has resulted in an incredibly successful career which has seen Tracey run Aveda’s UK business, act as Commercial Director and Board Advisor for Harrods’ Urban Retreat and, interestingly, also set up four deli businesses, a bakery and now a greengrocery in Peckham with her husband, Tony.
Tracey is married and lives in East Dulwich.
Tracey, why initially, did you choose to enter the fascinating world of beauty?
Everybody always looked fabulous behind those counters and I wanted to be one of them. A friend had told me they get a uniform and product allocation commission on everything they sell. There were lots of opportunities; it was my dream job.
Having had such a challenging childhood, how did you find the confidence to get that very first job?
I had a great friend who got me my first full-time job at a cash & carry, although I had always worked in some way – in a chemist or doing my mums' cleaning jobs which, from the age of 9, we used to go to together and once I was around 12 I began to go and do them alone.
Introducing and running Harrods’ Urban Retreat must have been very exciting. Do tell us more about how that business initiative came about and its development.
It was actually part of Aveda but when Aveda sold Estée Lauder the salons remained, transferring from Harvey Nichols to Harrods. I was brought in to develop the brand, drive profit and expand the concept. We sold many luxury brands, had a body clinic, MediSpa, a Roja Dove Haute Parfumerie and a fabulous Shavata brow studio – everything ‘beauty’ under one roof and an amazing line-up of products for home use. I was there for 8 years and in that time trebled the business.
You must experience the very best in beauty products and treatments. Please do share with us the top 3 purchases we should all invest in today.
Always use sunscreen.
I love the Decolletage Regenerating Silk by Dr Levy.
Michael Van Clarke Haircare.
Aromatherapy Associates bath and shower oils.
And I always wear Roja Dove Neroli.
You have juggled a demanding career with bringing up a family as well as trying to find that life balance of seeing friends and enjoying hobbies. What are your tips for all of us on how to do this and keep smiling?
Walking – I love walking and now do so with a weighted vest as my goal, at 50, is to build muscle. I now visit Buchinger Wilhelmi every year to spend time just ‘being’. We are a great team at home; we all do our bit as a good family life is always about a team effort.
Is there any advice you’ve been given that you would pass on to other women?
Be kind to yourself. We are always so hard on ourselves. Tell yourself you're a goddess, and remember there is always someone richer, smarter and thinner. Love yourself and love your life. And always treat yourself to a little luxury – mine is a soak in the bath with Aromatherapy Associates' Deep Relax when I need 5 minutes' peace.
‘Looking the part’ and your choice of clothes have been central to your confidence as a woman. How do you choose the right clothes for you and do you have any Winser favourites in your wardrobe?
My mum always used to say to me if you look the part and are confident, you can get away with anything. I am a big navy blue fan. 70 per cent of my working wardrobe is Winser, I love the lines and the cut, I have been a fan of your clothes since you started. In my dressing room I have shirts, coats, trousers and dresses all by Winser. The Merino coats are a staple and I have them in every colour. If I find a piece I like then I will buy one in every colour and sometimes two in navy. I've just bought the Milano coat in blush with the polo neck and also the Merino Yasmin Le Bon cardigan – I love it and get so many compliments on it. Also great for travelling are the poplin dresses in Spring.
We were both at a prestigious event earlier this week at Mark’s Club in Mayfair and I was delighted, and rather proud, to see so many of the top 20 businesswomen wearing Winser London. Why do you think our collection appeals and what would you suggest we could do better?
Yes I was there. What I love about your clothes is that they are so flattering, yet comfortable, elegant and practical – you can easily go from day to night in the same outfit. The quality is exceptional and every style piece is ageless. I am not sure you could do any better than you already do – just keep doing it. Listen to women and continue to make them feel fabulous. Thank you, too, for creating an amazing collection, and making it easy to shop online.
By Vanessa de Lisle - www.thefashioncupboard.com