The LUSH brand is one we love here at House of Coco. Their products are wonderfully natural, environmentally friendly with minimal packaging and totally against animal testing – as well as smelling and feeling amazing to use! So we were delighted when we got the chance to ask Helen Ambrosen, Lush co-founder and product inventor about her daily life within one of Britain’s best beauty companies and learn of the work that goes into some of our favourite products…
“When I get up I like to start the day with half hour of yoga. I’m also a very keen runner and I’ve just started marathon training, so I quite often run to work. To run to work I need to be on the road by 7am. When I get to work I use the lovely shower we have in the Lush Spa, this is useful as it gives me the opportunity to try out all of the new products I’m currently working on.
The whole of the day is then geared up to deadlines or to see how new products are going. Quite often we have a number of reformulations before I get a product just right.
Myself, Mo (Mo Constantine OBE, Lush Co-founder and Product Inventor) and Mark (Mark Constantine OBE, Lush Co-founder and MD) are constantly trying out new product creations. My bathroom is usually full of new products I’m working on that I need to try. Even if it’s not right for me, I know when it’s right for other people.
The day really starts by making a cup of tea for Mark. I’m always the one that makes the tea while Mark is cleaning his desk. After this we are ready to launch into whatever is happening that day.
I do a lot of work on ingredients, whether it’s replacing materials for various reasons or if our suppliers change their stance on our ethical issues such as animal testing. There is always an element of this during my day; our ethics are involved in every part of what we do. We’ve just started working with a lovely lady that we met through the Lush Prize , she does a lot of cell culture testing for us, so I often meet with her and send her products to test.
I also look after the products that get sent to the panel of human volunteers, I’m very much involved in that. Lush ethics are woven through everything we do throughout our day; it really affects everything we do.
I’m heavily involved in manufacturing and regularly train Lush compounders from all over the world on how to make our products. I love our manufacturing teams; they are lovely bunch of people. The Lush Kitchen , which launched last year, is a great way of showing our customers how we make our products. It also allows our customers to buy discontinued products and to see the processes of the fresh ingredients and how they go into the products. This is really very special and we love showing people how we do it.
The day sometimes involves our Lush Spa; I have recently been working with Mark on products for the new Lush Spa treatment. The Lush Spa therapists are currently testing these products. There are some changes to be made, so it’s down to me to re-formulate them and make them how the therapists want them to be. All of the Lush founders are completely immersed in making, formulating and trying the products and making sure everything is how it should be.
For lunch I usually have a lovely homemade soup that I’ve made with rice. I always cook on Sunday afternoon to make food for my lunches. After I have finished my work I usually go for another run and go the gym. I love dancing so I sometimes do a dance class too! I’m always very active in the evening.
Our best selling product is currently Ocean Salt face and body scrub (£13.95 / 250g); this was an idea by Rowena (Rowena Bird, Lush Co-founder and Product Inventor). I created the formula and the fragrance for it. Rowena is a fabulous inventor and has great ideas; She wanted the ultimate facial and body scrub, so we worked on it together. The second global best seller is Mask of Magnaminty face and body mask (£9.75 /315g); this is a lovely mask that Mark created many years ago. Part of my job is to make sure the product quality is high worldwide, wherever it is being made we need to maintain the high standards of our skincare.
I’ve always looked after the microbiological aspects of Lush products, I’ve been here nearly 33 years now so I’m really proud that we created self-preserving Dream Cream body lotion (£11.95 /240g), self-preserving Ocean Salt and self-preserving Mask of Magnaminty in 2014. More than 70% of our products are now entirely self-preserving, this is a huge achievement. You can now visit any Lush shop and find anything you want in a self-preserving form. We are currently working on self-preserving facial moisturisers. There is a massive amount of detail that goes into making these products; we went through 90 formulations of Dream Cream body lotion before we achieved self-preservation.
My favourite product is Ultrabland cleanser (£7.25/45g), I’ve used it every day for the last 35 years. I have really good skin for my age and Ultrabland has hugely contributed to that. This is also the product that brought me to Lush.
In 2015 we are working towards the opening of our biggest global shop on Oxford Street. We are currently looking at lots of new innovative ideas and product ranges for the opening, so we can really showcase our skills and show a huge number of new customers exactly what we do.”
Lush Oxford Street will open in April 2015 and we can’t wait to see it and try the new products!
There are 6 Lush Spa locations in the UK – Edinburgh, Leeds, Poole, Liverpool, London Chelsea and Kingston