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Liz Earle on using her Isle of Wight beauty business as a platform for helping causes around the world

PUBLISHED: 16:21 18 November 2014 | UPDATED: 16:27 18 November 2014

Liz on her organic farm - photo by John Wilson

Liz on her organic farm - photo by John Wilson

Archant

With a passion for wellbeing and a heart of gold, Liz Earle has managed to use her booming Isle of Wight beauty business as a platform for philanthropy

The last time we met with beauty and wellbeing wizard Liz Earle, she was getting to grips with becoming a household name after her Isle of Wight based skincare business took off on a grand scale. Since then, the Liz Earle Beauty Company has been acquired by other parties and, although she remains very much involved in the business, she now has the time to go back to her roots through her new company and website lizearlewellbeing.com. She explains: “I started life as a writer and a broadcaster campaigning about food issues and setting up the Guild of Health Writers, as well as campaigning for food labelling. With Liz Earle Wellbeing there is a strong foodie influence because, for me, beauty and wellbeing has always been this two-way approach – it’s about what we put on our skin but it’s also about what we put in our bodies, you can’t separate the two I don’t think.”

With her time being split between the beauty company and her wellbeing business, Liz now feels that she has the best of both worlds; mixing nutrition and lifestyle with naturally active products that get results. Over the years she has developed a number of personal passions that she now also feels in a position to develop. As a mother of five, she has long since been interested in the benefits of grass-fed milk alongside organic farming, and is now living the good life down on her West Country farm. However, her ties to Hampshire remain and she cites Fordingbridge dairy farmer, Nick Snelgar from Maplefield Milk as someone of inspiration to her.

“On the Liz Earle Wellbeing website you will see films and interviews with those involved in organic farming and especially milk production,” she tells me. “Milk is a fundamental staple food in our fridge and I’m very concerned that it is becoming industrialised. If we stop cows from grazing out on pasture they then don’t eat the Omega-3 nutrients which are so important for us, and particularly the under 5s, for brain development.”

Being aware of her personal brand has been the key to Liz’s success over the years and as a philanthropist, she has harnessed her popularity to make a difference to the causes that are close to her heart. Often it comes down to a bit of luck and taking a chance, as she admits: “Over the years I’ve been so fortunate to have been in the right place at the right time with the right people around me, that I wanted to provide that for other people.

“When I’ve travelled, particularly when I’ve been on field trips in developing countries, I’ve seen such a lack of opportunity - sometimes all it takes is a small amount of funding to give enormous opportunity to wide groups of people.”

LiveTwice is a charity that Liz founded in 2010 that offers opportunities to disadvantaged people through practical skills training and personal support to communities in the UK, Italy and Kenya. Setting up the charity enabled Liz to continue to support projects that she was already involved in, but on a much larger scale – helping small charities to achieve funding that they would otherwise struggle to obtain.

Linking the different elements of her businesses has always been a priority for Liz, especially when it comes to her charity work. Just in time for Christmas, Liz’s latest project has seen her return to the world of jewellery, which has always been a lingering passion. She reveals: “I have always had an interest in jewellery; it has been one of my personal hobbies if you like. I used to have a small jewellery range many years ago but that was very much overtaken with the success of the beauty company. So it was always in the back of my mind that I’d love to go back in to this area, because it is so creative.”

Being able to provide someone with something tangible that people can enjoy is something that Liz has already achieved with her widely successful beauty products, which are now bathroom cabinet staples across the country; and she is hoping to do the same within the world of jewellery by designing a pink sapphire, 18 carat white and rose gold necklace.

By applying her usual principles, making sure each necklace is ethically sourced and made from the highest quality materials; Liz is hoping that it will be an extension of her already well established brand. She explains: “I think I am already known for the ethical way in which the beauty range is produced, using so many organically grown botanicals and working with women’s cooperatives, and this beautiful necklace is made with similar principles”

For her first piece, Liz has collaborated with British fine jewellers, Boodles and former Kew Gardens’ illustrator Mark Fothergill to create a beautiful piece based on the Rose Pelargonium or Geranium, the oils of which are widely used in her beauty range. She continues: “I approached Boodles with Mark’s design in the hope that they would want to collaborate, but also that the necklace would have a charitable link. It turned out that The Wainwright family, who own Boodles, support this amazing charity in India – an orphanage called Shining Faces. I first came across the work that they did with street children after my son’s school became involved in a project over there, so I was keen to support the cause.”

With 100% of all profits going to Shining Faces, Liz is hoping that the limited edition necklace will go down well with Christmas shoppers as she puts it, “Boodles have shown such genuine commitment and such heart; they’re not making a single penny out of it, it is a truly philanthropic project for the benefit of others. I’m just so thrilled that I can pull together my personal passions being jewellery, beauty and philanthropy, in such a wonderful way.”

After listening to Liz talk about her many different projects I’m left wondering how she manages to fit in any time for her and her family. She has always been a supporter of the Soil Association and, after taking over a derelict dairy farm a few years ago, Liz, her husband and their children have set about turning it in to a home for quality British breeds such as Hereford cattle and Hampshire Downs sheep.

“What started off as a small family venture for the children to see how food is produced and appreciate food provenance and sourcing, has now grown to something much bigger,” she describes. It seems to me that Liz is not the sort of person to just switch off, thriving on projects that indulge her passions for living a good quality of life. Although she does say: “I try very much to keep school holidays and weekends as free as possible. My whole calendar revolves around school schedules and breaks, everything has to slot in around that.”

Despite now living across the border, Liz tells me that her connection to the Isle of Wight still remains strong. Having grown up in Portsmouth with views over to the island, to have the base of her businesses there was very significant to her.

“When we started the business on the Isle of Wight we had a lovely Victorian villa on the beachfront, which we still have and use. But we grew very quickly and so managed to acquire a piece of land just outside Ryde where we built a beautiful eco building called The Greenhouse. I love going back there now; it’s a very special place for me and has been a big part of my life for the past 20 years.”

***

Liz’s favourites

Place to eat: The Pig in Brockenhurst

Country walk: The New Forest and The South Downs

Hampshire spa: Lime Wood in Lyndhurst

Place for a glass of wine: Hotel du Vin in Winchester

Sleep retreat: The Seaview Hotel and The George in Yarmouth

Place to visit: Petersfield

Place for customer service: Chewton Glen Hotel and Spa

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Interview with Atlantis star and Alton resident Sarah Parish

Quentin Blake on life as an illustrator, his Mottisfont show and a desire for perfection

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