Barbara Close Named Brand Founder Winner of American Spa's 2018 Women in Wellness Awards

Announcing the Brand Founder winner of American Spa's 2018 Women in Wellness Awards.

Back for its second year, American Spa’s Women in Wellness Awards honor the women in our industry for their contributions in making the world a better place. Nominated by their peers and chosen by acclaimed wellness journalists, these women are showing they’re a force with which to be reckoned. Making a profound impact in the industry and beyond, they are leaning in by serving on related industry boards and organizations, discovering untapped opportunities, giving back, and bringing their unique perspective to all that they do. From September 24 through September 28, each day American Spa will be announcing two new winners of the 2018 Women in Wellness Awards. Today, discover the winner of the Founder of Product or Equipment Company Award.

Founder of Product or Equipment Company: This award honors the female founder of a wellness-centric product or equipment company who makes an impact by successfully managing with business acumen, creativity, integrity, and grace. 

WINNER: Barbara Close, founder and CEO, Naturopathica 

A lifelong practitioner of the healing arts, Barbara Close promotes a holistic approach to skin health. With a master’s degree in therapeutic herbalism from the Maryland University of Integrative Health and with credentials in esthetics, advanced massage, and aromatherapy, she is a pioneer in the wellness movement. Close founded the Naturopathica East Hampton Healing Arts Center & Spa (NY) in 1995. It was there she began to formulate the Naturopathica line of skin, body, and herbal remedies. Two decades later, she opened Naturopathica Chelsea, a flagship spa in New York City with healing facials and massages, herbal consultations, meditation classes, and workshops that give spa-goers a comprehensive holistic wellness experience. “From the beginning, my goal at Naturopathica has been to educate people about natural health and beauty in new and exciting, but accessible ways,” says Close. “I define beauty not as a pampering or indulgent experience or a quest to achieve an artificial, idealized form of beauty, but as an expression of living an authentic, healthy, and vibrant life that celebrates one’s own unique beauty and spirit.” After 23 years leading the award-winning skincare brand, Close is releasing her third book, The Naturopathica Effect: A Holistic Approach to Skin Care (2018). In it, she reflects on her experience as a product formulator and a spa owner, offering her simple, yet refreshing, approach to skin health. Today, Naturopathica can be found in more than 400 of the world’s leading destination and resort spas.  

FINALIST: Jane Iredale, founder and president, Iredale Mineral Cosmetics 

Bringing the concept of “skincare makeup” to life, Jane Iredale came up with the idea for her eponymous makeup line after witnessing the negative effects conventional makeup had on models’ and actresses’ skin in the entertainment industry. Inspired to create makeup that nourished the skin, she introduced the first mineral foundation in 1994, which helped forever change the landscape of the professional makeup industry. Iredale runs her independently owned business from Great Barrington, MA, with a mission centered on positively impacting women, animals, and the environment. Her company’s gold LEED-certified campus features an on-site farmer’s market and organic gardens, bees, and monarch butterfly sanctuaries, which symbolize Iredale’s commitment to creating a better quality of life for all. Celebrating 25 years in the industry, Iredale continues to advance the present-day wellness movement with cosmetics that provide the skin with a host of healthy benefits. She recently developed the concept of “Feed, Fortify, Finish,” a holistic approach to healthy beauty that involves feeding the body through food and skincare supplements, fortifying with nourishing skincare, and finishing with clean makeup. Jane Iredale now exports products into 52 international markets and has remained true to its original concept while also expanding into a full wellness brand, including supplements, skincare, and cosmetics.  

FINALISTS: Andree and Gaetane Austin, founders, Pure Fiji

The mother-and-daughter duo of Gaetane and Andree Austin were the first to introduce virgin coconut oil to cosmetic products. The eldest of seven children, Andree was born and raised in Fiji. She later left to pursue a degree but returned in 1995 to establish Pure Fiji with Gaetane, who first ventured into business by forming a company specializing in resort wear and Pacific Island accessories. Fascinated by the local use of coconut oil, the Austins started the company working around their kitchen table with some local women who still work for the company. They were the first to bottle coconut oil in Fiji for commercial trade. Eventually, they discovered a process that could extract cold-pressed virgin coconut oil in the villages, as it didn’t require electricity. Working with universities abroad, they discovered the many benefits of coconut oil and became the first globally to use it in cosmetics, all the while supporting rural communities across Fiji. Today, Pure Fiji has a total of three factories, including a soap factory and a candle factory. There is also a Pure Fiji Spa and Zenergy Group Fitness Studio on-site. Pure Fiji is not only run by women but it also empowers women to give them their own income and independence. The company they’ve built has been responsible for four thriving rural projects, which involve approximately 600 people in local communities producing ingredients for Pure Fiji products.


Stay tuned on American Spa online, as well on FacebookInstagram, and Twitter as we continue to announce the 2018 Women in Wellness Awards winners all week long. Up next: Educator & Trainer and Environmental Leader on Wednesday, 9/25.


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Meet the Judges of American Spa's 2018 Women in Wellness Awards