Temple Spa - the Mediterranean in a bottle
PUBLISHED: 09:00 03 February 2016
Catherine Larner talks to Liz and Mark Warom, the Suffolk-born founders of the deliciously different brand
Champagne, chocolates, strawberries, a diamond . . . perfect ingredients for any anniversary celebration. But when Liz Warom described how she would like to mark 10 years of running Temple Spa it sparked an idea for a remarkable new beauty product.
“What would truffles do to the skin?” she asked scientists in the Switzerland laboratory. “What would gold do?” The answer came back that these were high in antioxidants and therefore good anti-ageing ingredients. So, a new moisturizer was added to the range and the Temple Spa Skin Truffle quickly became an award-winning signature product.
In a crowded marketplace, it’s remarkable how Suffolk born and raised husband and wife team, Mark and Liz Warom, have turned a start-up company into a major player in the home and spa sector.
Still running their £10m operation from offices in their back garden (these days in Sussex), they trade in 10 countries, are stocked in Harrods and Selfridges, as well as by prestigious hotels and airlines, and in the next five years plan to have a Temple Spa destination in every county in Britain, as well as break into the American market.
But Liz and Mark are no strangers to the cosmetics industry. They were general managers for Anita Roddick at The Body Shop, taking the company’s sales from £3m to £124m in four years, and then created and launched the Virgin Vie line with Sir Richard Branson before deciding to go it alone in 2000. Liz married Mark when she was 17.
“We realized that as well as being life partners, we were pretty good business partners,” says Liz. “I love developing people and products, whereas Mark makes it happen. I’m a good starter and he’s a good finisher, so it works brilliantly.”
“We have always had strong support for each other’s careers,” adds Mark. After creating so many brands for other people, they wanted to build something that would reflect their own personalities and prove their best work. It would be a British brand, with products created and manufactured largely in Suffolk, where they were both born and brought up, and they would turn away from the cool, eastern influence typical in spas and look instead to the warmth, colour and ingredients of the Mediterranean.
Red pepper, liquorice, pomegranate, aubergine, red wine, olive – the ingredients read like the recipe for a delicious meal and just as they are nutritionally beneficial in the diet, they also have health-giving properties when applied to the skin.
“It was very exciting,” says Liz of first approaching a herbalist in Suffolk with the concept. “I didn’t know if he could help us or not. But I sat in front of him and discovered that he was an opera singer and spoke fluent Latin, was a herbalist and a chemist, a pilot and a pianist – a very clever man. He somehow caught the vision of taking the Mediterranean and bottling it.” Temple Spa also now works with laboratories in Hampshire, Italy and Switzerland, but all under a delightful cloak of secrecy.
“We keep their whereabouts and their names under lock and key for obvious reasons,” Liz says. Retaining this link with Suffolk gives the couple another excuse to return to the area. They still have family and friends here – “when you’ve got Suffolk in your roots, you don’t ever forget it!” – and have been keen to ensure their products are easily available in their home county. Flawless Image at the spa at Seckford Hall Hotel in Woodbridge and in its Ipswich salon offers Temple Spa products and treatments, although the flagship for the company is Weavers House Spa in the Swan Hotel, Lavenham.
“I’ve been coming to the hotel since I was a little girl,” says Liz. In fact, she was thrilled to invite her old schoolteacher to the launch. The couple are proud of how they are able to use the business to empower others, particularly women, as well as providing rejuvenating products. There are 1,500 consultants who sell the products one-to-one, or through spa classes held in a host’s home.
“We are enabling them to have their own business, and to juggle family and career. It can be everything from pin money to a very lucrative income. My message to them is always the same – believe in yourself, don’t dream too small. Make bigger goals for yourself because you can live a bigger life, you can be a better person.”
The Temple Spa philosophy
“It’s not hope in a bottle or believing that life’s problems can disappear at the mere whiff of an essential oil,” reads the brand brochure, but Temple Spa offers “a range of divine preparations and treatments aimed at busy people, the overstressed and those that love the very best in skincare”.
It’s about taking time for yourself each day, Liz explains, and if all you can manage is a five minute bath, then make it special with a candle, soothing music, a beautiful aroma.
“It can be a bath that makes you thankful, where you can count your blessings.”