As CEO of PURE Spa & Beauty, Becky Woodhouse’s career aspirations have gone from astrophysicist, to accountant, to entrepreneur of this portfolio of wellbeing businesses across the UK, serving 80,000 clients a year.
What is it the company does?
PURE Spa & Beauty is one of the UK’s fastest growing beauty and wellness businesses. We operate a portfolio of award-winning urban day spas, designed for high street, hotel and shopping centre locations for those living and working in and visiting the city to enjoy.
Describe your role in no more than 100 words
I develop the vision for PURE and put plans in place to move us towards our company growth goals. I work really hard on creating the best working environment and culture for PURE based on our company philosophy that we sell amazing experiences; my role is to ensure that our staff feel amazing working for PURE and delivering those experience to our customers. I work with my team to perfect our culture, services, processes aligned with our growth plans. I am constantly on the lookout for new opportunities to grow, develop and perfect our company – the classic entrepreneur!
Give us a brief timeline of your career so far – where did you start, how did you move on?
I trained as a chartered accountant before I founded the PURE Spa & Beauty business in 2002, however I have always been a beauty fan and knew that I wanted to run my own business. After seeing a gap in the market, I opened a single spa outlet in Edinburgh’s Lothian Road to offer high quality, accessible and affordable spa and beauty treatments for all. I then saw the opportunity to expand our concept, resulting in the growing portfolio of UK spas that we operate today which are visited by over 80,000 clients every year. I’m proud to say that we have some of the highest ratings on Tripadvisor for any spa business and have won several national UK spa awards.
What do you believe makes a great leader?
A great leader needs to be resilient, adaptable and have a clear vision and detailed strategy for the business. It’s also vital to know your own limitations, so you can recruit people who have a different skill set to yourself and give them a degree of autonomy to do what they do best. Not only will this have a great impact on your team and culture, but it will also lead to some great ideas and team collaborations. I think a great leader helps people to reach their full potential, inspires positivity and encouragement through their actions and words, sets a great example, and does the ‘right’ thing, not just the easiest thing.
What has been your biggest challenge in your current position?
I used to do everything myself, however as the company has grown, I have had to delegate and become very mindful with what I spend my limited time on. I constantly have to ask myself if what I am doing is adding value to the business, or if there is a better way.
How do you alleviate the stress that comes with your job?
Aside from booking myself in for a spa treatment, I often de-stress by reading some of the wonderful customer feedback that our business has received. When you discover that your service has had a really positive influence on someone else’s happiness it never fails to put a smile on my face. I also have one or two people who I can call on to have a good old therapeutic moan. Sometimes just letting it all out can help you put things into perspective and move on.
When you were little, what did you want to be when you grew up?
I was a quiet, geeky child and my passions were maths, physics and space travel so I wanted to be an astrophysicist! Until I discovered they probably spent most of their time in a lab or office which I felt would be far too restrictive, so I ended up going to university and doing Chemical Engineering instead. After a 4 year degree including a year working as an engineer, I didn’t feel confident enough to make a career out of engineering, so I switched to accountancy before starting the business when I was 27. I also wanted to be my own boss and tour the world, which is probably what motivated me to branch out on my own.
Any pet hates in the workplace? What do you do about them?
Our business is successful because of the investment we make into the personal experience of every single customer when they come to a PURE spa. Our whole team works very hard to deliver this quality across every aspect of the customer journey. I don’t like to see any dip in that standard, and if I do, swift action is taken! My biggest pet hate in the workplace is bosses who just care about figures and don’t care about their team’s welfare or their customers – I don’t understand why you would want to do a job if you don’t care about the people you work with or the customers who pay your wages?!
Where do you see the company in five years’ time?
PURE Spa & Beauty is on an ambitious growth plan, and I plan to roll out our successful model across the UK in the next few years. We regularly look at new sites and opportunities for partnerships. However our philosophy will remain the same for each venture: democratising beauty and wellness to make their benefits available to all. This means exceptional quality treatments and products that are fairly priced; an easy booking system using the latest technology; and convenient locations for today’s busy lifestyles.
What advice would you give to an aspiring business leader?
Having a set of values that you live by as a company is very important and in my opinion you can’t sustain a business without them. As a CEO you are essentially the gatekeeper of these values, so in the case of PURE Spa, maintaining a great company culture is one of my biggest achievements and is the foundation that holds the business together. It’s also really important to grow, innovate and create new opportunities. We have never stood still at PURE Spa in 15 years and whilst the day to day operational aspect of a business needs to be covered, good business leaders always have their eye on the future with a clear vision for where the business is heading and ‘what’s next’.
What do you wish someone had told you when you started out?
I would perhaps have liked some advance notice about just how challenging running a business can be! And also that doing things the wrong way is often part of the process to finding the right way. It’s very easy to berate yourself and feel bad when things go wrong, but all you can do is your best at that time, live by your values, and learn quickly from mistakes. Over time you will learn to enjoy the journey!
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