Q & A with Muriel Zingraff-Shariff, CEO of Aromatherapy Associates

Muriel Zingraff-Shariff

Muriel Zingraff-Shariff

What path led you into the spa industry?

After my MBA, I started my career at L’Oréal’s head office in Paris, working in new product development for brands such as Lancôme and Armani. I then built my career around luxury and retail, always keeping a foot in the cosmetic industry as at Harrods, where I was responsible for the beauty and fashion divisions. When the opportunity to lead Aromatherapy Associates presented itself, it was the strength and untapped potential of the brand that attracted me. I am bringing my experience of the larger beauty industry to the spa sector, and I hope I can contribute to grow it.

What is your personal recipe for success in the spa business?

I believe the key to success in the spa business is understanding both the therapist and the customer. Therapists are brand ambassadors, and they manage the relationship with the client. Understanding who therapists are as people and what their aspirations are, as well as the challenges they face is at the heart of helping them deliver the best experience for the client. All consumer research for spa shows they want brands they trust and know over niche brands. Clients want results that are immediate, which is what we focus on at Aromatherapy Associates—whether the goal is relaxation or detoxification.

What makes your company shine?

We are most fortunate with Aromatherapy Associates, as we have the perfect balance of heritage and innovation. This year, we are celebrating our 30th anniversary, and this longevity creates confidence in our brand through its proven success in spa. In our in-house lab, we blend all of our essential oils by hand, which we try to always source sustainably. Having this facility enables us to constantly innovate and create wonderful blends with Geraldine Howard’s input and guidance. We recently created an exclusive Bath & Shower Oil for Liberty London called Clear Mind, which allows clients to experience balance and stillness by releasing the mind and reconnecting with the powerful qualities of bergamot, chamomile, frankincense, and palmarosa to help them feel truly revitalized.

What is the most rewarding part of working in the industry?

In an ideal world, it would be to have all these great treatments and massages daily—if only I had the time. It is wonderful to be part of an industry that makes people happy by providing efficient service and result-driven treatments. With Aromatherapy Associates, the added bonus for the client is the incredible triple benefits aromatherapy has on the mind, body, and skin. It is truly rewarding for a therapist to know he or she has genuinely helped their clients’ wellbeing by providing the most advanced aromatherapeutic massage.

What advice do you have for someone breaking into the spa business today?

The spa business is an ever-evolving, absorbing industry complete with societal and cultural trends and cosmetic innovation. I would recommend for anyone entering this industry to always have curiosity and an open mind. Look beyond the spa world to find inspirations and seek experiences that can be brought back into the spa industry to enrich it even further.