Why a giant soap emporia that does hair and offers facials is a great idea.

I have a long-standing love affair with Lush. Can you blame me?

Entering a Lush location is like stepping into a world of colourful, quirkily-named skincare products that look and smell good enough to eat. Plus the brand is well known for being at the forefront of sustainability in regards to packaging, animal testing, sourcing ethically and so much more. 

Browsing the internet for inspiration, I came across an interview by Zoe Wood for The Guardian with Lush founder Mark Constantine explaining why he feels downhearted in present times despite his ethical approach to capitalism.

Sales slumps brought on by Coronavirus and Brexit are some of the usual suspects, but in an optimistic twist, Constantine mentioned future plans for a series of “giant soap emporia where shoppers can stock up on shower gel and moisturiser before getting their hair done or having a facial.”

I’m not sure how serious he was, but aside from conjuring up images of human-sized bubbles and extremely large soap, ideas like this are critical to revitalising the high street and filling up empty spaces left by shops going out of business.

Shopping has always been central to the lifeblood of communities.

Through shopping, people formed relationships with local sellers, seeing them several times over the course of a week. This is almost nonexistent in busy urban spaces where people prefer to shop online and shops go in and out of business within months.

The truth is that we need to be inspired. 

Simply finding a beautiful object is no longer enough. Before, even if you didn’t go through with the purchase, you probably would remember the object because finding something perfect was either time consuming or completely up to chance.

The internet has changed everything.

Pinterest boards and curated Instagram community accounts attempt to inspire with product after beautiful product in dreamy settings.

Don’t get me wrong, I love a good curated feed but it’s become so much harder for a physical shop to live up to the endless possibilities of the virtual world with the added attractions of express delivery and free returns.

Shops need to rethink what they offer to the public, especially if it’s not your run-of-the-mill high street retailer churning out endless bottles of hand sanitiser – which is apparently sold out in many shops in the UK thanks to panic-buying brought on by the coronavirus.

Let’s face it, no one is inspired by a shelf stacked with 30 brands of skincare. I know I’m not.

Do I want a new and innovative concept shop popping up in my neighbourhood? Absolutely. Am I drawn in by workshops and masterclasses, tastings and talks? Of course. 

Constantine is not the only one feeling despair about the ups and downs of consumer response to his brand despite being ‘in tune with the zeitgeist’. Ethical businesses feel this pain across the board. We certainly do, and we can attest that many of our members feel it too.

As competition increases in the ethical sector, the reality of it is that many businesses will struggle to survive.

Let us not lose hope though.

Ethical spending is up. Considered purchases are increasing. Climate change is a common topic of discussion, with action being taken on it in various sectors. Cities across the UK have pledged to go net zero, with the whole country targeting net-zero by 2050. Zero waste shops are on the rise. Increasing numbers of mainstream brands are improving their ethical practices.

People are curious, doing their research and making lifestyle changes. In fact, The Guardian published another article recently about 50 simple ways to make your lifestyle greener. Most are easily doable.

These are all wins. 

In the midst of all the chaos there is still beauty, so maybe someday I will shop at a deliciously-scented soap emporia that will do my hair and also offer me a facial.

Preeti is the Marketing Manager at Blue Patch. Born and raised in India, she spent some time in the US before moving to the UK in 2010. She can be found obsessing over her plants, trying to clamp down on an ever-increasing collection of nail polish or taking photos of random corners of London. She’s mentioned her love for Lush products and their gorgeous smells before, but in case she hasn’t, she’d like to reiterate that they smell AHMAAZING.

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