The wonder women of the wellness industry
According to the Global Wellness Summit, in 2018 the wellness industry was worth an estimated $4.2tn. In a time of unprecedented levels of stress, fear, anxiety and “fake news”, it’s no wonder the industry of self-care is booming. Although many boardrooms and top positions are filled by men, the wellness industry is bucking the trend. Heavily dominated by female founders and entrepreneurs, women represent the majority shareholders where wellbeing is concerned.
With women taking the lead, female-centric issues are gaining more attention, fem-tech is breaking out to address previously ignored issues, female-only spaces are becoming increasingly popular with entrepreneurs and businesswomen, and female-focussed travel is offering new and exclusive experiences. Recent data suggests from 2013-2023, the global incomes of women will have increased dramatically from $13tn to $18tn. By 2028, women will control almost 75 per cent of discretionary world spending.
With women’s increasing spending, political, social and business power comes a rise in demand for designed-for-them wellness, in the form of female-only workspaces, tech and travel. It’s the industry’s female founders who are recognising this demand and answering the calls with a plethora of emerging brands, initiatives, and schemes. BALANCE takes a look at the areas where the women in wellness are taking over.
A SPACE OF ONE’S OWN
With more and more women starting their own businesses and choosing to work for themselves, it comes as no surprise that they are looking for workspaces in which they can network, learn and work in comfort. Enter co-working spaces. From the all-female AllBright London spaces in Fitzrovia and Mayfair, to Fora’s premium co-working and private offices dotted across central London, there are a number of options to choose from when it comes to investing in a shared working space.
The global flexible workspace industry has been estimated to be worth $26bn, with over 35,000 flexible options in the world today, proving co-working is increasingly becoming the norm for a large proportion of the working population. Many memberships offer a number of wellness amenities on tap, (regular networking events, talks, gym facilities, dining options), these members-only clubs offer their clientele something your kitchen table can’t: a whole load of workplace perks.
More importantly, co-working offers a sense of community and support from like-minded business people and entrepreneurs. Katrina Larkin, Co-founder and Head of Experience at Fora explains, “Co-working has proved there is a better way of working. It’s about a collaborative environment in which you’re empowered, no matter what sector you work in.”
In particular, Katrina shared the way in which she believes co-working can benefit women, but also warns of potential drawbacks. “Co-working provides an environment for women, if they want to spend time together, talking to female colleagues and people within other businesses, and form friendships. What’s also important is there’s an environment where we can all work together and share problems and issues, and support each other. If we’re going to have a positive, balanced future with equal opportunity, we need to learn how to work together and understand our differences.”
That said, if you’re looking for a new workspace, consider whether you would like to join a female-only club, or a more gender diverse space. Either way, you’ll reap the benefits.
For far too long, the powers that be have failed to acknowledge female-specific needs and issues. This has helped to create a self-care revolution in the form of femtech. Created by women for women, apps, clothing and wearable tech, among other products, have been specifically designed to “solve” women’s problems, from contraception and fertility, to menstrual cycle tracking and networking for new mums.
According to Melinda Nicci, founder of Baby2Body, a health and wellbeing coaching app for pregnancy and motherhood, it was only a matter of time before technology was developed to serve the growing demands of women. “The rise in popularity of technology with women has been driven by three key trends: the growth of wellness and prevention; the proliferation and lower costs of devices, (such as sleep and activity trackers); and the trend in personalisation. Consumers are seeking new and innovative ways to live more healthily, and generic products don’t address women’s needs specifically”.
Natural Cycles, the world’s first app approved as a valid form of contraception by the EU, now has over 500,000 users in 161 countries, with a study showing 93 per cent effectiveness (compared to a 91 per cent success rate for the oral pill). Telling the user when they are most fertile, on a “red day” and when they are least likely to fall pregnant, on a “green day”, this “natural” alternative allows women to track and manage their fertility without chemical interference, a solution many have been looking for for years.
For the seven per cent that Natural Cycles didn’t come through for, or those intentionally trying for a baby, it can come as a bit of a shock once the child arrives as to how quickly you can become isolated. Peanut is an app that makes it easy to meet “like-minded mummas” in your area. Acting like Tinder, the networking app works to connect women in their community with similar aged children, creating a community for communication and support.
Women with wanderlust
When it comes to female travel, although a spa weekend is great, women are craving wanderlust-inducing trips and adrenaline-pumping adventures. More and more are seeking excitement, whether that be surfing in California, exploring the Galapagos, climbing Everest or trekking through the Amazon. Evidencing this is the 67 million participants and the market exceeding $19tn annually.
With the desire for epic adventure and solo/female-only travel on the increase (the number of women-only travel companies has exploded by 230 per cent in the past six years), companies such as Elle Voyage, a female-only tour operator, is providing a much-sought-after service. Its founder, Dawn Simone, believes female travel has boomed for several reasons. “Women are waiting longer to start families, are taking more demanding and higher paying jobs and are generally becoming more independent than 10 years ago. We are prioritising ourselves now more than ever, and this includes following a passion for travel.”
Like many companies of this kind, Elle Voyage is conscious of the risks involved and is also innately aware of the need to support female-run businesses in the destinations it offers. “Having worked in the UK, Barbados and Greece, I’m familiar with some of the struggles women can encounter in countries where they aren’t deemed as equal”, says Dawn. “I’m passionate about supporting other female-run businesses wherever we travel, so we can make our trips authentic and ultimately unique. We are always on the lookout for women-owned hotels, restaurants, wineries, artists and guides, and feel it’s important to be able to include their stories and passion into our itineraries.”
Whether it’s taking health into their own hands using the latest tech, having a much-needed break, or working on their hustle, in no uncertain terms, sisters are doing it for themselves. So what’s next for female wellness?
Just watch this space…
TIPS AND ADVICE FROM A FEW OF OUR FAVOURITE WOMEN IN WELLNESS
JENNY COSTA, FOUNDER AND CEO OF RUBIES IN THE RUBBLE
What prompted you to set up Rubies in the Rubble?
“After visiting New Covent Garden Market, I noticed the huge quantities of perfectly edible fruit and veg from all over the world that was thrown away if it hadn’t been sold. I learned one third of all food is wasted, contributing eight per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. I made my first batches of relish from surplus fruit and veg from Borough Market, and set up a stall. Eight years later, we’re still as committed and excited to lead the fight against food waste as we were on day one.”
What advice would you give to women thinking about starting up a sustainably-focussed business?
“Be clear about the problem you’re solving, and remember you can’t be all things to all people. For us, leading the fight against food waste without compromising on taste, has always been our main focus.”
How should fellow female business owners hunt for investment?
“You need to communicate clearly and commercially to your audience. Many investors want to see the ‘magic’ and brand purpose, but they also want to see a real commercial opportunity at hand.
CO-FOUNDER AND HEAD OF EXPERIENCE AT FORA
What was the most difficult thing about starting your own business?
“Realising when you reach an obstacle, challenge or critical junction to not let it take over your whole life. At the end of the day, when you’re lying there summing up your whole life, are you going to be thinking of that day when you felt like everything was about to fall apart? No, you won’t.”
Is there anything about the wellness industry that frustrates you?
“The idea that it takes an hour out of your day really annoys me. Wellbeing should become a part of how you live. You may not have an hour every day because of all sorts of things, but it’s about making decisions in your day and the simple things that keep you in the flow. You can do a 10-minute meditation, swap coffee for water, walk to work instead of getting the bus… it’s about taking that 10-15 minutes out.”
What advice would you give to women thinking about starting up a wellness-related business?
“You can never stop learning. Trends move quickly, so you have to have a two-way conversation with your customers. If you become successful, that is the time to take a look around and support others: nobody ever builds a company alone.”
FOUNDER, PLASTIC FREEDOM
What is it about the wellness industry that appeals to women?
“It’s a super-positive industry to be in. It seems to be a special movement of women working to make the world a better place, whether it be self-care, wellness or the environment.”
What advice would you give to women thinking about starting up a wellness-related business?
“Do it! It’ll be the hardest thing you do, but if you are confident and have a passion for something, it will be the best thing. Look at what the market is missing and bring it to the forefront; people want to feel they are investing in someone they know.”
Are you looking for investment?
“I wanted to get my customers involved from the start and reward them over borrowing money from a bank. You have no say where they spend the interest, and it could be in industries I don’t agree with. I started with £300 of my own money, then crowdfunded another £2,500 for my first month’s rent and to employ some help when I wanted a bigger premises.”
3 QUICK TIPS FOR NEGOTIATING A PAYRISE, BY CLARE SUTCLIFFE AND KATE PLJASKOVOVA FROM SHE WINS
1. Plan ahead of time what you want to achieve. If your company doesn’t set KPIs, set your own so you have something to measure and prove your effectiveness
2. Identify the decision makers, find a senior ally and begin a campaign of self advocacy. You have to be your own loudest cheerleader
3. Look at the market value for your role and go armed with data if it’s higher than you’re being paid. You might want to solicit offers of higher paid roles to strengthen your negotiating position