Combining reflexology with a range of candles and diffusers, Joanna Spriggs tells us how her holistic approach to health and wellbeing extends right through to how she runs her own business.
Tell us a little about your work and how your business began?
I’m a reflexologist of over ten years specialising in women’s hormonal health and more recently, the proud owner of my own wellbeing line – a luxurious, curated collection of natural candles and diffusers designed to improve both mental and physical health.
More importantly, I’m also a mum to three daughters, 11, 8 & 5 years old. We moved to Henley from London five years ago and couldn’t imagine living anywhere else now.
I build on the philosophy that to enjoy life to the full, we need to invest in our greatest asset – our health. From helping young girls navigate issues around puberty, assisting those on fertility journeys, through to ladies entering the peri-menopause, my aim is to help people feel their best, by taking a holistic approach.
It was only as I got older, that I realised the importance of self-care. After working at a top celebrity PR agency in London for many years, I was facing burn out. The lifestyle was taking a serious toll on my health. I was also trying (and failing) to get pregnant…
It was during a holiday to Canada that I first came across reflexology. Not only did I love how relaxed I felt, but the therapist diagnosed* a gynae condition which my GP had failed to notice. Subsequent tests confirmed her discovery and my mind was blown. (*As a reflexologist, we’re not supposed to diagnose, just advise where imbalances are felt in the body).
I decided to retrain and in the early days, I was lucky enough to spend time in a London fertility clinic with the brilliant acuouncturist, Emma Cannon and her team, who I learnt so much from. I feel very privileged to have worked with hundreds of women on their pregnancy journeys, whether that be naturally or treating alongside the IVF protocol.
I think my own fertility struggles give me an empathy for what many of my ladies are going through. I also know first-hand how reflexology can really make such a difference.
What made you decide to combine reflexology and a wellbeing collection?
For me, the combination happened quite organically. As someone who spends most days talking about hormones, I started researching endocrine disruptors - natural or human-made chemicals that interfere with our body’s hormones. It’s frightening how toxic many candles and diffusers can be, even the high-end brands. When given off, toxic particles can be found in our bodies, and even our brains! A scientific study** in 2019 showed how bad many candles can be for our health, for example a medium Diptique candle gave off a toxic particle count of 343 million, which equates to a diesel car running in your sitting room for 23 minutes!
I have always loved candles, but I only wanted to burn those made up of 100% natural ingredients, which weren’t always easy to find.
I set out to create candles that not only smelt amazing, but also gave off real health benefits. Using pure essential oils, means using the immune system of plants/herbs/flowers to enhance well-being. The botanicals when inhaled can have incredible effects on the body - from reducing anxiety, lowering blood pressure, mood boosting, helping with concentration, you name it, there’s an oil for everything.
I mix and test the essential oil scents at home and then I have them hand-poured in small batches at a lovely, vegan workshop in the Cotswolds. Natural and sustainable underpins everything I do. From the eco-cotton wicks, the sustainable soy wax, the recycled glass and the recycled packaging, everything is designed with the planet and your health in mind.
Where do you find inspiration?
With both my reflexology and wellbeing collection, I find inspiration all around me, especially in the incredible women that I’m privileged enough to work with and be the keeper of their stories. I’m inspired to improve my own self-care and be a better listener and therapist - every day I’m amazed at how strong women can be.
With regards to creating new scent combinations, I always look to nature and ask “which oils can help enhance your everyday” I try to devise scents to enhance a woman at every stage of her cycle, which will balance, nourish, relax, uplift, invigorate or energise. I’m inspired by mother earth and her amazing powers to heal.
Describe your typical working day
I try to wake before anyone else and start the day with a few rounds of belly breathing (before I look at my phone!) - this sets me up nicely for the busy day ahead. After dropping the girls at school, I’ll either do an upbeat, energising class at ADVHQ or I’ll go for a walk along the river with my dog. Getting sunshine early in the day helps set your circadian rhythms and promotes good sleep habits in the evening.
I’ll usually see my first client at 10am ish. I have a lovely treatment room attached to my house along the Fairmile, so my commute is pretty easy! I’ll usually treat up to 4 people a day, using either foot reflexology , facial reflexology (amazing for anti-ageing, alongside the internal health benefits) or a combination of the two.
Early afternoon I’ll spend time packaging up orders, updating social media and doing admin. I check in with my fabulous stockists once a week; Toad Hall garden centre, Sage & Squash deli, Nubodi Pilates all in Henley and recently I’m delighted to now be stocked in Studio 17 in their Richmond & Chiswick studios.
Where possible, I try to deliver locally by hand or by electric car. For further afield it’s off to the Post Office I go.
What has been the biggest highlight and biggest challenge to date?
Aside from having my reflexology tips published in a pregnancy book, “You and Your Bump” by acupuncturist Emma Cannon, my biggest highlights - as cliché as it may sound - come from the success stories and lovely feedback I receive. I’ve had the honour of supporting countless women achieve their dream of having a family & improving hormonal health, but the real change comes from the changes they themselves make. I create a safe space to arm people with the power to improve their own well-being at home.
The biggest challenge to date was definitely the first lockdown and not being able to see my clients. The guidelines were relaxed after a while for reflexologists, so long as we had a doctor's referral, but still many of my regulars missed out. I adapted by offering self-help online sessions, but it’s never quite the same as being able to be hands on, literally, with someone.
Best nugget of wisdom you can share with your fellow Creative Ducks?
Can I share two please??
For the female Creative Ducks:
Listen to your body. Women are on a fluctuating monthly female hormonal cycle (unlike men, whose are 24 hours) which means we change physically and emotionally week on week. As our oestrogen, progesterone and testosterone rise and fall - so do our moods and energy. Some weeks we’ll feel sociable, creative, energetic and can exercise for hours, whereas other weeks we’ll feel sluggish, crave isolation, want to eat more and snuggle up under the duvet. This is all completely normal - it’s your hormones, so don’t try to fight it and think something is wrong, it’s not. The more you embrace it, the more your body will thank you for it.
Solar plexus reflexology point. This is a really lovely point when life can feel a bit overwhelming. It has an instant calming effect on the nervous system, by activating the parasympathetic response.
So… put your right thumb into the middle of your left palm and rotate (clockwise ideally) firmly, best to close your fingers on the left hand slightly around the thumb, as it allows you to work deeper into the reflex point. Inhale deeply and slowly through the nose. Once you get to the top of your inhalation, hold the breath for 3 seconds pushing firmly into the reflex point and then slowly exhaling out through the mouth rotating the point. Do this twice and then repeat on the other hand - using left thumb into right hand. Subtle, but hugely effective.
Find out more at:
**Tests conducted by the National Air Quality Testing Services - NAQTS