Joanna Weakley founded Holistic Silk in 1999 with the desire to find an antidote to the often stressful everyday world, wanting to combine function and luxury in her own unique products. And she did it! In an interview with RAUM concept store, Joanna talks about her relaxation tips, beauty secrets and her living style…
What’s so unique about Holistic Silk products and what’s special about your design-philosophy? Would you like to tell us about it?
There are so many things which make our products unique! Everything is still designed from the heart exclusively by me so that it slots into busy lives without any fuss or preparation yet still feels luxurious, decadent even, and so importantly it is made to last, which is a rarity nowadays.
Twenty years after I created Holistic Silk I still insist that we use traditional sewing skills, and stitch in moderate quantities in the UK and with an Indian NGO, championing skills training for those who may not otherwise have the opportunity and supporting local communities at the same time.
Keeping to these business ethics is a crucial part of my design philosophy where I strive to make sure we are always offering an innovative collection of luxury relaxation, sleep and beauty accessories which comforts and reassures simply, effectively and beautifully as well as being an antidote to the fast pace and stress of modern life. Which in a world that is increasingly overwhelmed by an excess of work and no time, higher stress levels and a lack of quality sleep, is in great demand.
When did you first get in touch with transformative alternative health and Chinese medicine?
I’ve always been fascinated by the healing powers of nature including aromatherapy. I remember experiencing a painful wrist and hand, probably caused by computer mouse overuse when designing so I purchased a magnetic bracelet to try and ease the discomfort. It really did take my pain away and from that moment I was sold! I can honestly say that it was this experience which prompted me to embark on more research into natural and holistic healing and I have never looked back. The whole subject is simply fascinating
Your products combine alternative healing methods with ergonomic design, luxurious craftsmanship, and proven remedies. How did you come up with the idea to combine your collected knowledge?
I trained as a textile designer and had worked alongside alternative health practitioners gaining knowledge in various research jobs – another of my passions. I was working in London during the late 90’s at one of the first shiatsu chair massage emporiums as a buyer and I could clearly see how stressed people were getting with the with arrival of the internet and excessive travel for work. The products available to support this lifestyle didn’t even exist and the few that did were often very medical, uninspiring and made from cheap materials. So I combined my love of textiles and design with the desire to ease this obvious stress and Holistic Silk was born!
Our everyday life is often stressful and fast moving. Holistic Silk products are supposed to stimulate relaxation and better sleep. What is your best tip for relaxing?
Try to commune with nature as often as you can and, most importantly, Breathe! A few deep breaths and long slow exhalations work wonders at any point of your day especially if you are operating at a fast pace. Another simple tip is lifting and dropping your shoulders, try it at your desk for a few minutes every day and you will feel the difference.
We have recently introduced an ‘Office Spa’ ethos in our offices to encourage relaxation and reduce stress. Luckily we have a beautiful garden we can retreat to when we need ten minutes out but I also make sure that everyone has a spa pack on their desk; a nice facial mist, one of our Lavender Eye Pillows and a Chi Gemstone Roller to use as and when they wish to. I was sent one of the Chi rollers a while ago and the instant calming effect I felt when using it at my desk prompted me to buy them for everyone and introduce them to our collection as soon as possible.
What is your beauty secret that you like to share with us?
Never skipping a cleanse is a big one. And giving myself a facial massage as I put on my serums and creams each night definitely helps to keep my skin elasticity at its best. Neal’s Yard frankincense facial mist is always a source of comfort where ever I go and keeps my skin hydrated at any time of the day, really important when I am sat in front of a computer all day which really dries out your skin.
But the real secret is that Beauty Sleep is real! A good night’s sleep shows in your complexion and skin tone just as much as a bad night’s sleep does. Using Silk Pillowcases and Eye Masks also allows me to nourish and protect my hair and skin without doing anything except dream.
Would you like to share your favourite night routine with us?
I definitely have a bedtime routine that ensures I sleep really well. Every night I have a Chamomile Tea and retire to bed around the same time with a good book; I never take my phone to bed with me because the blue light it emits, even when not in use is so damaging to sleep quality. I do love to take a Hot Water Bottle to bed too- there’s just something so comforting about that especially now the nights are getting colder.
I have to sleep with my Silk Pillowcase wherever I am, it’s the first thing I pack when going away. I also, not surprisingly, can’t be without my Eye Mask. Even if I don’t feel like wearing when I drift off, I keep pushed up on my head because I know that when I stir in the night I can just pull it down over my eyes and instantly drop off again. I have to say it it’s the best thing I have ever designed in my life!
When did you get to know yoga and what are your favourite exercises?
I practised Yoga in India and loved all that it stood for and what it can do. Then during the 90’s Yoga became a buzz word in London and this was around the same time I created Holistic Silk so it was a natural thing for me to incorporate my love of Yoga into our earliest product range, some of which including the Yoga Rug Mat we still sell today.
Even though running a business and raising a family takes up most of my time I find that practising the ‘5 Tibetan Rites’ is a truly effective way to keep me grounded and allow me my ‘Yoga Time’.
What brings you joy on a grey autumn day?
The trees – their abundant colour palettes in Autumn make this time of year inspirational. Plus the different kind of light at this time of year and the presence of the glowing harvest moon lying low on the horizon as it starts to get dark much earlier. I find myself reaching for my camera in Autumn so much more than I do on a brilliant summers day; it’s just so atmospheric and inspiring.
Is sustainability and eco-friendliness important to you? What materials do you think will come in the future?
Absolutely, and we all need educating more about how we can go forth and create with this in mind. I see endless possibilities for recycled materials being treated to a high end finish and I actually started my commercial design life upcycling. I am still an avid recycler and insist that we recycle everything we can in our business and I still strive to source and use surplus silk fabrics in our collections at Holistic Silk.
I think the future will see a dramatic drop in single use plastics and much more reliance on reusable and multi-use packaging made from more eco-friendly, less resource thirsty materials. As individuals and businesses we have to be so very conscious of using less materials in every aspect of our work and we have made a real effort over the past 12 months to reduce packaging and the environmental impact shipping products have on the environment and I estimate that in our own mail Order Fulfilment process we are now using up to we are using up to 20% less packaging.
How would you describe your own interior style?
Currently, it’s quite eclectic – a mix of ancient and modern artefacts with original mid-century furniture. We are lucky enough to live in a house with very high ceilings which leave lots of wall space for various artwork so although I am aching to be a minimalist I just can’t quite do it!
What’s your must-have interior piece?
Art in all its forms; pictures, paintings, ceramics, silk wall hangings, you name it and I probably have it somewhere. Despite having beautiful wooden floors every room in my home has at least one rug, it just brings some instant personality and is easy to change when you feel the need.
Do you have a favourite motto of life or a favourite quote? If yes, what is it?
Sink or Swim I Holistic Silk
Thank you so much for your time and your inspirational thoughts, Joanna. We wish you all the best and cannot wait for any new ideas you come up with in the future!