Sunday 2nd June 2019
By Michelle Hammond
Q1 How did your childhood influence your work ethic and attitude towards business?
I am lucky enough to be the first born in a large family. My Mum had me at 18 and by the time she was 22 she had three daughters and a son soon to appear! Although things were tight in the early years, my parents worked very hard & their outlook certainly wasn’t impoverished. (It was great having young, fun parents). Dad in particular really encouraged us to work hard to achieve the best careers possible; with wise words such as ‘Find Something you Love Doing and then find Some Fool to Pay you to do it!’ I have always believed if you really want to achieve something, with hard work, you can!
Q2 - What do you believe the principles of a successful business are today?
Our business is driven by a passion for delivering an amazing and unique end product. Every project we do is essentially ‘bespoke’, a labour intensive process that demands a real attention to detail. We rarely advertise and our work comes primarily through word of mouth and recommendation. Its also important to be able to say ‘no’ , so that you can focus on projects & clients that you really believe in and can achieve an amazing end result.
Q3 - Looking back, what was your best business decision?
Without a doubt setting up our own Design Consultancy, Sparcstudio; we are celebrating our tenth anniversary this Year and love being in charge of our own destiny!
We have quite a few major projects under our belt now. When we started Sparcstudio we were busy designing Calcot Spa and SoSpa Sofitel St James, followed on by Dormy House Spa; ten years on we have just launched The Spa at Southlodge and are looking forward to Cottonmill Spa at Sopwell House and Forest Spa, Center Parcs Longford Forest opening this summer.
We couldn’t have done it without the support and encouragement of our great Clients; especially in the early Years.
Q4 - Who has influenced you the most through your career?
It’s difficult to single out one person as we have been lucky enough to have worked with quite a few amazing, entrepreneurial and influential people. All have entrusted us with their investment (Spas are expensive things) and to bring to life their unique vision.
Immediate individuals that spring to mind, include Richard and Cathy Ball of the Calcot Group, Andrew Grahame who we worked with on the creation of the House spa at Dormy House Hotel, Danny Pecorrelli, the spa at Southlodge, Martin Dalby & Paul Kent at Centre Parcs and The Bejeranos-the Sopwell Spa is launching shortly, to name but a few!
Apart from amazing clients, Nick Jones has always been an inspiration, we worked with him in the early years on a refurb of the Cowshed at Babington, & negotiated a Soho House membership as part of our fee. It's been amazing following his journey of success & going to new club openings around the world- Istanbul was the most exciting. I think he really understands comfort and service.
Q5 - What was your most difficult / worst business decision?
Not setting up our own design business sooner!
Q6 - What would you say was the single most advantageous character trait for
A passion for design and attention to detail in delivering it (sorry that’s two) as a small company myself and my fellow directors Neil Fairplay and Tom Howell take a very ‘hands-on’ approach to every project.
Q7 - What happens when you’re stressed or overwhelmed?
I think we all feel a level of stress at times; but close to a deadline a bit of pressure can be a good thing – it’s amazing how decisive one becomes. We often make really good decisions about design schemes when we’re up against the Clock; they’re sometimes fresher and more creative than those that have been laboured over!
It's also about having a great team and we certainly have that at Sparcstudio!
Q8 - How do you invest in your own wellbeing. How do you look after yourself?
Our biggest investment in our well being was basing Sparcstudio in a beautiful, inspiring, Riverside Studio setting (which we managed to buy a couple of years back) Located at the end of Waterlane (between two great Pubs) we look directly over the water and where the daily commute involves a walk by the Thames in Richmond instead of a tube ride.
A brisk walk along the river to Petersham Nursery in Ham is an ideal way to unwind and re-energise and there is the amazing Bhuti Yoga studio nearby (which I should ideally visit more often). Otherwise walking in Sussex at the weekends and the occasional Sailing trip is about all I manage (note to oneself to do more).
Q9 If you could change one thing about the spa and wellness industry what would it be and why?
Every time we design a spa we look to design in operational improvements to ensure smooth running and a great Spa Journey. I take my hat off to specialists such as Beata of Pure Massage who are spearheading the movement to look after Therapists to ensure that they can deliver the best possible experience in the safest way.
From our viewpoint as specialists for some 20 years in Spa and Wellness design, we wish there was more recognition for Spa design as a real ‘specialism’, particularly amongst Hoteliers who might have a great Architect on board for their Hotel (but they might not necessarily have ever stepped foot in a spa before). There are so many things that can go wrong in Spa space-planning and detailed design – and they can be very costly or even impossible to rectify.
Q10 - Finally, What’s your favourite quote or the best advice you’ve ever been given?
There are many quotes that strike a chord with me, one of my all time favourites is Coco Chanel’s ‘luxury isn’t luxury unless it’s comfortable’ - so important in spa design.
or a favourite of an old Boss’s ‘Make a F…-up make a ‘Feature’ ways of dealing with those little unexpected issues that crop up sometimes on site!
FLASH FACTS - FOR FUN SECTION
1. What’s your favourite book?
‘Other People’s Money’ by Justin Cartwright – money doesn’t always buy you
happiness no matter how wealthy you are.
2. What’s your favourite film of all time?
‘Sideways’- none of the characters are very likeable but it’s a fun film.
3. If you could have dinner with anyone, past or present, who would it be and why?
Charles & Ray Eames – such an inspirational Husband and Wife design team.
4. You get taken to your favourite place to be, where are you taken?
Babington House – we were married there and it was amazing, or alternatively sailing with my Husband & friends around the Ionian Islands.
5. Your perfect dinner is?
A Sunday Roast (local lamb sharing plate) with a ‘rent-a-crowd’ family and
friends at my sister Hayley’s pub ‘The Ram Inn’ in Firle - a truly individual village at the foot of the Southdowns in East Sussex.
6. Your go to drink is?
My Mother’s G&T, more ‘G’ than ‘T’
7. Your favourite sweet treat is?
I’m not a sweet treat fan – ‘British Bake off’ doesn't do it for me ... but maybe
something with pineapple coconut & lime – a good slice of Key Lime Pie.
8. What’s your favourite essential oil / scent?
Geranium or Aesopp Marakesh perfume
9. You go for a treatment - what do you have and why?
Definitely a hands on massage for the knotted shoulders
10.What’s your favourite flower?
11.You want to sleep deeply, what do you do?
Cooking a nice meal at home, followed by a good read in bed to clear the brain of
the details of every project that we are working on.
12.You want to energise fast, what do you do?
A looming deadline / big presentation!
13.The theme tune to your life is?
‘La Vie en Rose’ by Grace Jones (our wedding song). She is an amazing
all round icon and performer incorporating great costume design and dance.
14.What makes you laugh to your belly?
I love a comedy club. ‘Headliners’ in Chiswick High Road is great & good for
a dance afterwards to a live band - Stephen K Amos is one of my favourite compares.
15.What’s your favourite season?
I am definitely a summer person.
16. What’s your favourite colour?
Veuve Clicquot Yellow.
17. Your favourite time of day is?
Sunset on the River Thames in Kew or Richmond.
18. If you could have been anyone or anything else, what / who would you be?
A Dancer - I have an ‘O level’ Contemporary Dance or I did toy with choosing Fashion design as a career.
19. What’s your current TV guilty secret?
Definitely ‘Fleabag’ - I don’t feel that guilty as Phoebe Waller-Bridge’s writing is
so original and the characters are spot on - I watched the last episode twice.
20. Magic dust - you can learn one new skill instantly, what is it?
Fly a Helicopter
Sparcstudio is an independent, creative design studio with an established reputation for excellence in the spa, wellness, hotel and resort sectors. Renowned for delivering a series of award-winning creative projects over the past decade, the team of designers and architects offer a personalised, tailored service from conceptual design and space planning to the finishing touches.
The creative driving force within Sparcstudio, Beverley is passionate about spa and hotel design and has an intimate knowledge of spa and wellness operations and requirements, together with the latest trend and product knowledge within these sectors.