The origin of Cowshed Spas is quite a literal one. The company got its start in 1998 as a spa retreat located in a former cow shed on the site of a charming English country house hotel. Thus, Cowshed at Babington House, Somerset, was born and served as the start of an award-winning international chain of spas designed to offer a homey, social vibe using proprietary and playful bath, body, and skincare products that are made in England using organic, wildcrafted, and fair-trade plant extracts and essential oils. Now, 17 years later, the brand features 12 Cowshed Spas, as well as two nailcare-focused Cheeky Parlours, and one Neville Barber for men’s grooming needs. Here, Amie Jones, global head of Cowshed Spas at Soho House & Co., shares the secrets behind the British brand’s healthy, down-home philosophy.
What is your company’s mission statement?
A: Cowshed is a unique collection of sociable spas with a range of wildcrafted products for the bath, body, and home.
What sort of training do you offer spa management to help them achieve the company’s mission for its spas?
A: We have a dedicated internal training program, which is through our learning and development department within human resources. For junior managers, we also have a wide support system to ensure they are given the tools they need to succeed and progress.
What sort of training do you offer, brand-wide, to your therapists, estheticians, and other spa staff?
A: We have an internal Cowshed training and education manager, Jessica Sproson, who manages the training program. At site level, we have an on-site trainer, who is also one of the senior therapists, who supports the day-to-day requirements.
What do you do to keep your spas at the forefront of industry trends and development?
A: Constant auditing, mystery shopper reports, and input from our teams and staff in regards to feedback, service, and standards keep us on track. They pass on anything they think would benefit the spa, and we act accordingly. I work extremely closely with each and every spa both in the UK and globally. We have a weekly global Cowshed meeting, which is a forum for our general managers to present their spa’s performance but also to highlight anything that was a key performer in their local market that can be reapplied to other spas. We also tap into local marketing based on the city, and we work on a spa-by-spa basis to ensure we are the best we can be in every market.
What sort of elements do you maintain brand-wide, and what do you do for spas to allow them to honor their varied locales?
A: Every spa has a common thread. However, they are adapted in each market. For example, in Istanbul, we not only offer a Cowshed hammam, but we have the option of offering guests a traditional Turkish hammam. This has proven to be extremely popular with not only local members but also those visiting from abroad.
What do think your clients want in a spa experience, and how, as a company, do you meet those needs?
A: They want a warm and friendly environment where they feel comfortable and welcomed with a high quality of standard and service. We have a vibrant local community that comes to the spas, and most clients are regulars. They also cross over locations—they could be a regular at Primrose but then visit other locations also, as they know whichever Cowshed they visit, the level of service and expertise remains the same. We pride ourselves on creating a home-away-from-home environment where sociable grooming is encouraged.
How do you appeal to spa-goers from various cultures?
A: Many of our spas offer treatments that are well suited to the climate. For example, in Miami, we have many treatment offerings for rejuvenating tired or dehydrated skin that may have gotten too much sun. Our city-centric spas are much more about the everyday maintenance, such as manicures and pedicures. However there is also a large need for our new relaxation-inducing Sleepy Cow Treatment ($150, 75 minutes) in places like London. That service begins with a back exfoliation and massage using a relaxing blend of essential oils followed by a neck and foot massage.
When it comes to menu development, do you offer certain treatments or experiences across the brand?
A: We have The Cowshed Menu in place in all spas globally. We do have different adaptations of some treatments. However, all of the signature treatments are consistent across the board.
Do you work with specific spa brands across your portfolios?
A: Our main product line is Cowshed, which is professional and is still handmade in England using a variety of organic ingredients, wildcrafted plant extracts, and high-quality essential oils all harvested sustainably. While our names might be playful, we take our formulations very seriously. The core Cowshed line consists of six moods: Grumpy, Horny, Knackered, Lazy, Moody, and Wild. The variety in our scents allows us to target people’s individual needs in their treatments.
The Cheeky nailcare and Neville grooming brands have allowed us to branch out and really capture our audience across all demographics. Both brands are still made in England using the same ingredients. We also use SkinCeuticals as a supplement to the Cowshed offerings, and the two brands sit comfortably alongside each other. Many clients like to mix and match, or some go strictly natural or strictly cosmeceutical.
In terms of our equipment, I work closely with the Soho House in-house design and build team to ensure that not only do our spas look great and are comfortable for our clients but that they also meet the operational standards our therapists require to be able to perform exceptional treatments.
What do you think is your company’s most distinctive spa and why?
A: Because our signature treatments are universal, as is our training, I couldn’t possibly pick one. Each spa has its own unique qualities, which lend themselves to the brand.
Cowshed is flying high, thanks to a partnership with United Airlines. The company’s skincare products are now available on long-haul international United Global First and United BusinessFirst flights to and from the U.S. Cow Pat Moisturising Hand Cream, Lippy Cow Natural Lip Balm, and Chamomile Refreshing Towelettes will be included in new redesigned amenity kits. Plus, Cowshed products will be available in premium-cabin lavatories on several international flights and will also appear in several United Club locations throughout the world.