Antonia Burrell, 40, is a facialist and founder of her self-titled holistic skincare range. She lives alone in Maida Vale
If I’m really busy and have urgent work to do my body clock wakes me up at 5am, otherwise I sleep until my alarm goes off at 6am. As soon as I wake up, I drink a cup of hot water with lemon while checking my emails on my iPad. I have a bowl of fruit for breakfast and if it’s a nice morning, I go for a power walk around my local park – I return home feeling energised for the day ahead. As part of my skincare regime, I trial the new serums or moisturisers I’m adding to my collection and I test competitors’ products to keep up with what’s going on in the market. I don’t wear much make-up, just a bit of Dior mascara, Mac blusher and Aveda lipstick. My wardrobe is made up of classic pieces such as Reiss trousers and tops from Amanda Wakeley.
I leave home between 7am and 10.30am depending on my day. I attend networking breakfasts with our industry association, Cosmetic Executive Women, or I meet my chemist at Soho House to discuss new formulations. We work collaboratively to develop products – I’ll come up with an idea for a cleansing oil and her team will develop it in the lab. My products are tested on humans, not animals – my family, friends and clients are my guinea pigs and give me really honest feedback.
When I return to my office near Baker Street, I meet with my sales director to crunch numbers. My business is self-funded – I’m a trained beauty therapist and used to own three salons, which I sold to launch my skincare range. It was a real challenge to start the business – I wanted my products to be made in the UK and be 100% natural so I did lots of research into ingredients such as sea buckthorn and frankincense then scoured the country for a manufacturer. I worked with designers to develop our violet-coloured glass packaging and to build my website. I started the business from home and it became like my lab, full of bottles, test tubes and thermometers and the constant scent of aromatherapy oils. My mum called it my witch’s den.
I started the business at home and it became my lab, full of bottles, test tubes and thermometers
I eat lots of raw food, so for lunch I make myself a salad of rocket, watercress and mange tout – I try to avoid things that leave a smell on my breath if I’m meeting clients for treatments. My speciality is treating women with problem skin, particularly those in their 30s who have never had issues but then suddenly start breaking out. I think it’s down to a combination of factors including stress, alcohol, hormones and using the wrong products.
My facials use a mixture of lifting and sculpting techniques and machinery such as microdermabrasion. I do back-to-back appointments two or three days a week, often visiting clients at their homes. People ask if I get tired hands, but I don’t, probably because of my years of experience. The therapists at Urban Retreat at Harrods also use my products, so I visit the salon to do training and spend time on the shop floor chatting with customers about my range.
The demands of running my own company mean I often work at my office or at home late into the night, liaising with new stockists in the US or approving marketing campaigns. If I’m having a hectic day, I love listening to jazz or classical music and I often go to gigs with friends at the Royal Festival Hall, followed by dinner at my favourite restaurant Skylon, overlooking the Thames.
I’m a bath freak so when I have a night in I’ll run one and fill it with Chanel bath foam, or I mix my own oils depending on my mood – if I need something calming yet invigorating I mix eucalyptus with sage. I don’t watch much TV except for my guilty pleasure – Big Brother. My friends are all astonished that I watch it but I think it’s because I’m so nosy! I try to get to bed by 10.30pm, where I sip a camomile tea before falling straight off to sleep.”