We chat to globetrotter, entrepreneur and co -founder/CEO of the Mr & Mrs Smith empire about all things hotels, beauty advice and more. We just love her!
We absolutely looove everything Mr & Mrs Smith! Can you tell us a bit about how it all began?
It was a disastrous weekend at a Lake District retreat in 2003 that led James and I to foundMr & Mrs Smith. The hotel was nothing like the guidebook had led us to believe: it was all chintz and Corby trouser presses; and we even had our blood pressure taken during check-in because – unbeknownst to us – it was in fact a health spa! Boutique hotels were just appearing on the scene around this time, and we knew there must be other people like us looking to stay somewhere stylish, unique or different. There wasn’t a hotel guidebook out there that we felt we could truly trust, so we decided to create our own. After being rejected by a number of publishing houses we managed to launch our first book later in 2003, which sold 20,000 copies in the first three months and 100,000 copies overall. In 2005 we moved to become an online booking service, and we now have more than 1,600 hotels and villas in the collection, in destinations all over the world.
What has been one of your best career highlights so far?
Actually, something I’ve really enjoyed recently is helping our members cancel and re-book their holidays. It sounds strange but it’s been a while since I was dealing directly with customers, and I’ve found there’s something deeply satisfying about resolving an issue, getting a good outcome and helping people with their holidays. After all, that is what hospitality is all about.
What has been your biggest challenge so far?
I’d be lying if I didn’t say it was the impact of the pandemic. Not only has it been devastating in terms of revenues but there’s been an unbelievable stress on the team, too. We’ve had to rethink everything: what we do, how we do it. We all need a holiday.
What advice would you give to your younger self?
To keep moving; don’t get stuck in one place or reliant on one way of thinking. Try to mix it up and experiment with different working styles.
What is an average day like for you?
No two days are the same. Even during the pandemic, with the constant video calls and hangouts, each meeting would throw up something different. In the travel industry we’ve been dealing with an ever-changing situation, with certain countries being ‘safe’ to travel to and then others locking down again. It’s a rollercoaster ride and I wake up every morning wondering what is going to be thrown at me that day.
What do you do in your down time?
All my downtime is dedicated to my kids who right now are at such fun ages. We have a great time together. In this summer heatwave we’ve been travelling to new and secluded sections of the River Thames to go wild swimming.
Which beauty products can you not live without?
Apart from Dr.Lipp, I never travel without de Mamiel Altitude Oil. I have a breathing ritual before bed and the smell is so calming.
Can you tell us your best beauty tips?
I keep my beauty routine very simple: I’ve never been one for wearing huge amounts of make-up. Straight after an event or shoot I tend to scrub the makeup from my face as soon as I’m back at work! What is super important to me is wearing a good SPF – every day, come rain or shine. I tend to stick to light products and I layer with creams and serums. I’ve seen a huge difference in the tone and glow of my skin since using high factor SPF every day. I use Heliocare 360 Mineral Tolerance Fluid. It’s a game changer!
"I love that Dr.Lipp is the only product I know of that really mends my lips when they are in need of care. It protects them from the elements while I’m travelling, and makes them shine like gloss, too."
What is next for you professionally and personally?
I took over as CEO of Mr & Mrs Smith just after we went into lockdown on 2 April, so my goal is to make sure the business not just survives but goes on to thrive. We’ve overhauled our strategy and reset the business, so steering us through these peculiar times is what I’m 100% focused on right now. Personally, I’ve enjoyed working from home and spending more time with the kids – even if at times it’s been stressful. Like many of us, I want to make sure I maintain a healthy balance between family and work.
How do you feel when you wear Dr.Lipp?
Protected and confident.
What are your favourite uses for our mutli-use skincare solutions?
Before lockdown I was travelling a lot, and when I’m on a plane there’s nothing that feels as good as Dr.Lipp for protecting my lips from drying out.
If you could encourage others to make one lifestyle change today, what would it be?
My mission is to restore and encourage confidence in people to travel once again, but to approach this in a new, more considered and conscientious way; one that is not only beneficial to feeding an economy that has been so desperately damaged by the impact of Covid-19, but also kinder on our environment. We need to protect and support those communities whose livelihoods depend on the revival of the travel industry. In Europe, there is just a small window to make that happen before winter shuts things down once more. We also have an opportunity to positively impact how we travel. The notion of ‘fast travel’ is changing, in much the same way as ‘fast fashion’. The concept of the quick and simple weekend trip across Europe is being reconsidered, with sustainability now at the forefront of people’s minds. I’d like to see holidaymakers taking longer but less frequent trips, and combining multiple destinations within the same country. That way, you can really unearth a place and its community rather than doing what we have in the past, which is to barely scratch the surface. This isn’t about stopping travel; it’s about experiencing the world at a different pace.