Amanda Barlow. Spiezia Organics
Coming into the atrium of HWIC was an emotional response for me. As soon as I saw it I thought, “this is it”, this was somewhere where good things could happen. Amanda Barlow Spiezia Organics
As you step into the corridor of HWIC where Spiezia are located you are instantly surrounded by the clean smell of macerating herbs, on the day we visit the smell of lemongrass permeates the air. The juxtaposition of natural smells in the corporate space of HWIC is a great metaphor for the change Spiezia are going through as they make their transition from cottage industry to a major player in the health and wellbeing sector.
HWIC is unique in the Innovation Centre family, whilst PIC (Pool Innovation Centre) and TIC (Tremough Innovation Centre) have office space, HWIC also has lab space. Spiezia have taken full advantage of this by taking both an office and lab space, the lab space is a mix of high tech lab and artisan studio as organic products are transformed into the Spiezia range of organic products.
Amanda sits in the atrium of HWIC, the sunlight floods into the highly polished space making this the brightest Innovation Centre, it makes you feel good, which is exactly why Amanda and her team chose to work here…
So this is your third move with Spiezia, and probably the most different?
Just a little! After a fire at our original farm location in 2006 we moved to Gear Farm on The Lizard. We are probably most well known for Gear Farm, it was organic, picturesque and absolutely freezing! Comparing that with HWIC couldn’t be any more different, the farm was so remote and you had to travel miles on country lanes to get anywhere which made collaboration extremely difficult.
Let’s talk about collaboration a little, as well as Spiezia you have your charitable foundation “Made for Life” which is the driving force for this move…
Yes, I met Karen (HWIC Centre Manager) in October (12) and she invited me to look around in November (12) and I remember arriving here and walking into the atrium and thinking “this is it”. It was quite an emotional experience for me as I have had a vision for a support centre for “Made for Life” to provide a support programme for cancer patients and in terms of a vision HWIC is pretty much it. The Innovation Centre has the latest facilities surrounded by like minded people, it was quite a leap of faith for me as we left our quirky environment behind to move to a much more corporate one.
Did you worry about the move?
I worried all day and night long! I worried about how people would react to the brand and the changes to Spiezia, especially with their previous perceptions of the brand and how that would translate. But actually it couldn’t be more marvellous, even the HWIC name has given us creditability, innovation, health, wellbeing, those words all reflect our vision and I think people now look at the company very differently. Before we were restricted to being a cottage industry due to our cottage location but being here has opened so many doors for us.
Talk us through your space…
I am very proud of it, HWIC is separate from the hospital but close enough to it for cancer patients to come and visit us. We are surrounded by fields and space but inside it buzzes with the energy of the companies that are located here and there is always something on, especially compared to our little farm where it was so hard to meet new people. When people come into our offices now they are greeted with a modern and spacious environment; they can look around and see our products being made in the latest facilities.
Your products are all handmade and organic, how do you describe them?
Pure, organic, effective and great for sensitive skin. I usually follow this up by taking a mouthful of one of them and asking whether people would eat their current skincare! What I would add is that using most skincare products will have a benefit of some kind but our belief is chemical free skincare is the best way. Some products use ingredients you would find in antifreeze and floor cleaner. Ultimately a beautiful skin is a healthy skin and that comes from within you as much as what you use on your skin.
One of the key features of HWIC are the laboratory spaces, you actually manufacture your products here don’t you?
Yes, we have immediately taken advantage of the light which streams through the windows for our maceration process. We take herbs and flowers and steep them in the oil for a full lunar cycle, so the natural ingredients infuse in the sun; it’s a mixture of science and art. The macerations are the key, we never rush them, and we will reject both the raw ingredients and the oils if we aren’t 100% happy with them. Natural products are changeable, they are the biggest challenge and the biggest unique selling point and the thing that underpins the authenticity of the organic principles of Spiezia. We can trace our products back not only to the supplier but to the actual field where the flowers or herbs were grown, that is very important to us.
The wellbeing of the person is almost more important to you since the charity formed isn’t it?
Yes, I see the charity moving on leaps and bounds now since we had our first launch event for Made for Life here at HWIC with over 120 people attending. Since moving to HWIC we have appointed trustees to the charity and the atmosphere was amazing. Over 65% of the audience had either cancer or had come through it. There were some very moving speeches which are all linked to our ideas of giving back what we take. We have recently been increasingly referred to by the Mermaid Centre, who would like to run days like these but are restricted because of funding, so we offer a toolkit, which people can take or leave but it includes everything from art therapy, yoga, counselling or even just coming in for a chat and a cup of tea.
With the company and the charity you have a lot to think about…
Luckily over the last 2/3 years I have had tremendous support by Andrew Farmer from Oxford Innovation (an ERDF business support programme) who has been fantastic. It has been transformational to get an external set of eyes who can ask and set challenging questions to coach you through the difficult periods. As the owner of the business you can get too close and emotionally involved so with Oxford Innovation to give me some grounding has been invaluable.
You’ve had some exciting developments since moving in…
We only moved in on February 28th and since then we have had the charity’s trustees appointed, a contract confirmed for a new Eco retreat including Health Spa and Leisure complex and our products have gone into a further four spas across the country. The St Ives project at Una is a diversification of the business, but now we have this professional workspace here at HWIC I have no hesitation about bringing these spas in for training days, something I wouldn’t have really considered at the old farm. I think the team attitude is so positive and can-do now, we are much more professional and this is a great environment for them. This has opened up a whole world of possibilities and its bloody lovely!
‘Welcoming the team from Spiezia has really kick started our ethos of health and wellbeing into reality.
It is great to see a Cornish company take raw organic ingredients and transform them in their lab at HWIC (Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre) into products which are sold across the world. Spiezia have come to HWIC with a team brimming with ideas and positive energy. They are an additional positive asset to the great businesses already located at HWIC and also to the future of the health and wellbeing sector in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.’
Karen Murray,Health and Wellbeing Innovation Centre Manager
Amanda is managing director and owner of 100% organic skincare company, Spiezia Organics and founderof Made for Life, a registered charity providing integrative support to people diagnosed and recovering from cancer within Cornwall
- 8 strong team and ready to employ one more person
- Two spaces at HWIC: an office and laboratory space
- Product packaging is 100% recycled and printed with vegetable dyes
- Soil Association Organic Standard accredited
HWIC joins its sister Innovation Centres PIC & TIC
- To create high quality office, laboratory and meeting accommodation built to BREEAM excellent standards
- Specifically 44 offices; 4 larger rooms; six shared meeting rooms; and a conference facility
Thursday 6 June 2013