Eve Taylor teaching a class on massage
The spa industry is filled with strong, beautiful and brilliant women who are determined to make a difference in the world of beauty and wellness, and Eve Taylor, founder, director and chairman of Eve Taylor (London) Ltd., is one such woman. Taylor felt like she was living in a man’s world, and took it upon herself to change that, seeking beauty education to become a beauty therapist and later aromatherapy education to start her own line. Her determination never quit while she balanced earning an education with raising her four sons, and that determination continues today. Skin Inc. sat down with this spa industry pioneer to learn what ignited her aromatherapy spark, how she views competition, why she will never quit and how all of this earned her royal honors.
Skin Inc. (SI): How did you get started in this industry?
Eve Taylor (ET): One Christmas in the late 1950s, I stood ironing a large pile of school shirts and shorts for my four sons, and I felt that I was living in a man’s world of grey shirts. At that point, I felt like I just couldn’t cope anymore, and I decided that I needed to do something for me. With a firm grasp, I became the first Avon lady in the South of England. I soon came to realize that I didn’t know anything about what I was selling, so I found a small beauty school. Not being able to afford to pay the full term up front, I managed to negotiate a deal in which I paid on a daily basis instead.
My daily routine became taking the boys to my mother’s house before going to school, giving the beauty school owner an IOU for that day’s training and going to work for Avon. Once I had completed my education, I started my own visiting practice, also known as mobile therapy. One of my clients said she was going to open her own salon where she would employ therapists. It was there that the idea was sparked for me to open up my own salon.
My first salon was called Adam & Eve in Lee Green, London. I held a big opening event with Johnny Briggs there as one of my guests. I opened my second Adam & Eve in Sevenoakes, London, where I pierced Lady Diana Spencer’s ears, who was attending college and went on to become the Princess
When I heard about an upcoming conference on something called aromatherapy with the famous aromatherapist Madame Maury, I felt intrigued to know more about it. I was completely blown away with inspiration that day, and it was then that my passion for aromatherapy was ignited. Even though I had done all of the previous training, I knew deep down that this was the direction of my future. I trained in full aromatherapy with Micheline Arcier and learned as much as I could about the amazing power of essential oils.
SI: What is one of your most memorable moments?
ET: My most memorable moment to date was being awarded my OBE [Officer of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire] at Buckingham Palace in 2008. It was such an honor and privilege to stand in front of Prince Charles and have him ask questions about my work. I was recently awarded the Outstanding Contribution Award, which came as a huge surprise. I thought I was just invited to the event. It was only when my son Christopher told me to get up on the stage that I actually realized what it was.
“I felt that I was living in a man’s world of grey shirts. At that point, I felt like I just couldn’t cope anymore, and I decided that I needed to do something for me.”
Taylor and Johnny Briggs at her salon opening
SI: What was one of your largest challenges in the industry, and how did you overcome it?
ET: When I started making aromatherapy-based products back in the 1960s, modern aromatherapy was still in its infancy. It was great to have a product unlike anything else around. Over time, other brands came along and marketed themselves in a much more aggressive way to appeal to a wider client demographic. However, we continued to blend our products using our signature hand blending and synergising technique, which is all done on-site in our own factory. There are absolutely no machines involved with this blending process, and having that hands-on personal touch is something that isn’t seen often within this fast-paced industry.
SI: What has been one of your favorite aspects of running your own company?
ET: At 86, I am still working actively in the company as director and chairman, and it is continuing to work that keeps me driven. I keep hearing “you must cut down mother,” but retirement isn’t an option for me. I have too many things to do and achieve. Unfortunately, I don’t get to teach much these days. My workload demands that I am more office-based now, but I love answering the phone and speaking with our therapists to help them with their client issues and sharing my experiences over the past 50 years.
I enjoy what I do. If I didn’t, I’d be out of here in a second. Some people are surprised that I’m here answering the phone, but why
not? I have got to be involved because that’s what makes the business successful.
SI: What advice would you give someone looking to start their own company?
ET: Never give up. It’s a tough journey. Reassess all the time, and keep to your budget.
SI: What has been your greatest accomplishment thus far?
ET: After being in the industry for over 55 years, I feel my greatest accomplishment has been surviving in an industry that has changed so much over the decades. It has only been through determination and willingness to adapt and diversify the business—as recessions and financial problems have hit, trends have changed and customer needs have evolved—that we have survived this long.
SI: Who were some of your greatest mentors?
ET: Madame Micheline Arcier, who taught me full aromatherapy, was one of my greatest mentors and helped to shape my knowledge right at the start of my aromatherapy journey.
SI: What do you enjoy the most about the spa industry?
ET: I love this business. I have never found it boring, as there is always something new to learn.
SI: Where do you see the future of skin care?
ET: Everyone has skin and so there will always be the need for products. It is anyone’s guess what the future will hold, but experience has shown us that we originally used natural-based products, which were superseded by more technological ingredients. However, the natural emphasis has come back in recent years and shows no sign of moving away.
Taylor with her sons at Eve Taylor Ltd.
SI: If you could go back in time and tell yourself one thing what would it be?
ET: Stick to your plans and always your budget.
SI: What do you like to do in your free time?
ET: I love to read and keep looking ahead; I tell everyone I meet to never stop learning. Even now at 86 years, I am learning how both life and business are one big learning curve. My family is important to me, and I am now a proud great grandmother.