British Invasion

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Lush Spa
A popular UK brand makes it’s North American debut in New York City.

New Yorkers who want a taste of British  tradition can now get their fix, thanks to Lush Spa (New York City), a classic English spa featuring fresh handmade products, jars of wildflowers, mismatched vintage teacups, and old-fashioned books lining its shelves. “The inspiration  behind Lush Spa is multifaceted,” says spa director Tina Juden. “The idyllic Dorset countryside, the beauty of bird song, and the striking English coastlines are delicately woven into every detail of the spa, creating an innovative and astounding experience.” With six UK locations, Lush Spas can also be found in France, Japan, and Korea. While across the pond and beyond, spa-goers have been enjoying Lush Spas for years, the New York City spa is the first for the brand in North America.

Lush first got its start in Poole, England, where Mark Constantine, a trained trichologist, and Liz Weir, a beauty therapist, met in a hair salon. They eventually decided to start their own business selling natural hair and beauty products. Working out of their homes, they created products using fresh and natural ingredients. After reading an article about Anita Roddick, who had just founded The Body Shop, Constantine contacted her and offered her some of the products he and Weir had developed. Roddick placed an order, and the two began developing products for The Body Shop, becoming the company’s biggest supplier for more than a decade. Because of their relationship with The Body Shop, Constantine and Weir were unable to open another retail outlet for more than five years. As a result, they set up a mail-order makeup company called Cosmetics-to-Go, which eventually went bankrupt.

With what money they had left, the duo, along with Helen Ambrosen, Rowena Bird, Mo Constantine, and Paul Greaves began buying fresh fruits and vegetables at a local market and formulating products. Contracting with another company to come up with fragrances, the team was disappointed to learn that the perfumes weren’t as pure as they had been led to believe. So, Constantine decided to create the fragrances himself. A competition was then launched to name the company. One customer suggested Lush, which was considered fitting, as it is defined as being fresh, green, and drunk. “Lush Spa treats its guests to a journey of unexpected sensory experiences, all enveloped in classic English hospitality,” says Juden. “When imagining the spa, Constantine said he wanted ‘to give people what they truly want, which is to be uplifted.’”

It didn’t take long before the concept took off. “On a trip to England, Canadians Mark and Karen Wolverton came across the fragrant, colorful shop that is Lush and immediately knew they wanted to bring it to North America,” says Juden. The first international Lush store debuted in Vancouver in 1996. The first American store opened in San Francisco. Today, there are more than 180 shops in North America, all of which are supplied by two cosmetic kitchens in Canada.

According to real estate director Alyssa Jacobs, the New York City location was an ideal choice for the brand’s first North American spa. “We wanted New York to be the first Lush Spa location for obvious reasons,” says Jacobs. “New York City is where so many influential media are based, and it’s the most populated U.S. city.”

A cozy escape from urban life, the spa offers seven unique treatments. Synaesthesia ($230, 80 minutes), the spa’s signature service, is a transformative multi-sensory massage for the mind, body, and soul. The Good Hour ($180, 70 minutes) is a full-body deep tissue massage that relies on muscle-release techniques to ease pain and tension. Tailor Made ($120, 40 minutes) is a customized version of The Good Hour that can be personalized to focus on specific areas. The Comforter ($170, 60 minutes), an exfoliating treatment, features a decadent hot chocolate scrub and a velvety rose body serum. For the feet, The Spell ($120, 60 minutes) includes a foot soak, scrub, and massage. Validation ($140, 60 minutes) is a life-affirming facial massage in which the therapist takes guests into the shop and guides them in choosing skincare products to suit their needs. The Lush Sound Bath ($140, 60 minutes) incorporates sound therapy and ear candling. “This isn’t a treatment many people would have experienced before, so it’s not always the first one booked,” says Juden. “But I feel like it’s the hidden gem of our menu.”

Created over five years, the menu was developed by the spa team in the UK. According to Juden, inspiration for the treatments came from a variety of people and places. In the case of the Liverpool-based spa, it was the city itself that inspired The Hard Days Night ($140, 75 minutes) treatment, which is  coming soon to North America. Relying on the eponymous product line, the services use a combination of products from the shops and those created specifically for a treatment. 

In formulating the products, the main concern is always the effect it will have on the skin. “In the case of The Comforter chocolate body scrub, we wanted a product that would leave the skin exfoliated and moisturized and one that could be used warm on the skin,” says Juden. As a result, Ambrosen worked with the spa team, using fresh ingredients such as ground aduki beans and tamarind. “We always consider the ingredients, their sustainability, and their effectiveness on the skin when inventing products,” says Juden.

Guests also benefit from the training staff members are required to undergo before being allowed to perform treatments. “At the heart of Lush Spa are the spa therapists who have been immersed in the Lush life from their point of hire to understand the creative elements and inspiration,” says Juden. “The licensed massage therapists take three months to complete the full Lush Spa training, and at the end, the therapists have to perform the treatments on the Lush founders.”

Each of the four therapists at the New York City spa were trained in the UK. In the future, however, therapists will be trained in Philadelphia, where a new Lush Spa was also recently introduced. “We were relocating our shop on Walnut Street, and our new location had the perfect second-level layout for the spa, as well,” says Jacobs. “We believed this would be an ideal fit for the brand, as our existing business in downtown Philadelphia is great.”

With four therapists on staff, the New York City-based spa is able to accommodate approximately 12 guests each day. According to Juden, the goal is to hire more therapists immediately.  “We hope to keep growing Lush Spas across North America,” says Juden. “Ideally, we would love locations in the middle of the country and on the west coast.” A location in Brazil is already slated for this coming spring. It’s certainly a British invasion, if ever there was one.

Lush Spa (New York City)

Owners: Mark and  Karen Wolverton

Spa Director: Tina Juden

Opened: January 2014

 

SPACE

1,400 square feet;4 treatment rooms

 

OFFERINGS

aromatherapy, body treatments, couples’ treatments, ear candling, facials, hand and foot treatments, massage, reflexology, sound therapy

 

SIGNATURE TREATMENT/ MOST EXPENSIVE OFFERING

Synaesthesia ($230, 80 minutes)

 

PRODUCT LINES

Lush Fresh Handmade Cosmetics

 

EQUIPMENT

SpaBooker

 

INTERIOR DESIGNER

Jo Evans and Katie Tabram, Lush UK Design (Poole, England), and Hazel Wigley, Lush NA Design (Vancouver, Canada)