Joanna Weakley created her brand Holistic Silk to aid the fast-paced and stressful lifestyles of modern society. Specialising in creating the most innovative, beautiful and therapeutic products available, from silk eye masks to pillows, and yoga mats to turbans. We caught up with Joanna to get her take on what wellness means today, and she shares her top tips on how to relax at home...
What does wellness mean to you and how do you try and incorporate it into your life?
Feeling energetic and light as well as having most things in order and flowing smoothly. Keeping a good balance between the demands of daily life is something I try to always do. So every day I make sure that as well as working, I spend some quality time with my young family and make time to do one activity that is important to me, be that swimming, yoga, walking or generally immersing myself in nature and the world around me. Over the years the traditional therapies such as reflexology, massage and herbalism that I love and respect have become part of every day, from skincare to tea drinking.
Can you talk us through what a typical working day looks like for you?
I’ve always worked from home which means most days I don’t have any stressful commute. I do the school run before heading into the office. After a quick meeting with the team to discuss the day’s tasks I usually go through my emails and analytics before going off for a swim or a walk. I really advocate taking thought out of the office for clear thinking and inspiration. Time sat in front of a computer doesn’t always help you see clearly.
At lunchtime, you can often find the team in our garden talking about everything non-work related. Afternoons and evenings can be when I am at my most creative so I can be found researching new ideas, sourcing new Silks, sketching designs or at my sewing machine working on prototypes. But there’s also a lot of juggling and reacting to whatever needs attention. We are a small team and thankfully we are all ultra-flexible in our job description, willing to move around and deal with what comes up – it’s not always predictable. I think we have certainly all learned that in the last year.
What led to the inception of Holistic Silk and how do you keep inspired?
After completing my Textile Design degree I was working in London during the late ’90s as a buyer for one of the first shiatsu chair massage emporiums. I quickly recognised how stressed people were, due to their modern, hectic lifestyles; long taxing commutes, days sat at office desks and relatively new non-stop working due to mobile phones, emails and the internet. Not to mention a gym lifestyle that didn’t afford time for stretching and mindfulness, leading to shortened tight muscles and painful shoulders. With my interest and extensive research into alternative therapies, I was confident I could marry my love of textiles and ancient remedies to create a way to help people truly relax with little effort. I’d tried weighted eye pillows and found they really worked but the designs available smacked of a '70s hippie aesthetic, so I put my own luxury and decorative twist into the designs - Holistic Silk was born.
If you had to pick a favourite Holistic Silk product what would it be and why?
I guess it’s the hero product for a reason – our Lavender Eye Mask. I’m currently coveting a Jade Pure Silk one, priceless in these long summer days with light mornings. I wake up, slip it on and I’m back off to the land of nod in no time. I’m also always to be found on my Pure Silk Pillowcase at night and never fail to take one with me when I travel, it’s a comfort as well as a joy to sleep on. Of course, the Pure Silk Pollution Masks have also had to become my new best friend too. I designed them with smog and dust in mind but they have now become the de rigueur accessory, so I’m pleased we already had these in our collection as they have been well thought out and not an off the cuff design to fit the times.
How would you describe your own home style and what’s your favourite room in your house and why?
Currently my home style is a mix of ancient and modern artefacts with original mid-century furniture and lots of plants and veg. We are lucky enough to live in a house with high ceilings which leaves lots of wall space for various artwork. I love art and design in all its forms; pictures, paintings, ceramics, silk wall hangings, you name it and I probably have it somewhere. Because we have wooden floors throughout, every room in my home has at least one rug; they bring instant personality and are easy to change when you feel the need. I am aching to be a minimalist but as you can tell I just can’t quite do it.
My favourite room has to be our living room which leads to the orangery (in summer the orangery is a delight but very cold in the winter as its full of holes 😉) So during the summer months I can sit in the living room, which is relatively minimal and watch the sun go down or stretch on a Yoga Rug Mat and listen to the swifts that swoop around at dusk. In winter the log burner will be lit and it’s very cosy.
What are your top three tips on how to relax at home?
If you work from home have a designated area and make sure you mostly have a cut off time and stick to it. For me, 6pm is when we sit down to dinner as a family. I often work at night but I always have this time to decompress first.
Surround yourself with things you love and that make you happy; people, pictures, crafts etc. and of course music. The fewer screen devices you have the better and none should ever venture upstairs. I’m trying to convince my friends and family to have alarm clocks again and not to use their phones as one, having a sleep app is no excuse.
Keep some order, make time for yourself. It’s too easy to spend all of your time looking after other people. Have a sacred space that you love, such as your bedroom where you can just be, a simple yoga mat can be your sacred space too.
What’s the best advice you’ve ever received?
Just because it’s a no today, it doesn’t mean it will be a no tomorrow. This became my internal mantra when I first started my business. I spent more hours than I wish to remember on the phone trying to get a buyer’s attention. There were more than a few Nos.
Resilience worked and every time I walk into a store and see Holistic Silk products on the shelves I remember that mantra like it was yesterday.
What do you enjoy most about running your own business?
There are so many things to enjoy about running your own business, along with many that aren’t quite so fun. But the freedom it gives me to be creative on my own terms has to be the best part. Being free to go with what you think to be correct. If you don’t truly believe in something it’s hard to convince others.
What does your perfect day off look like?
Anything that’s outside. We relocated to Cornwall from London to have more space and to be more immersed in nature. We can go to a beach or walk in the open countryside. This never becomes boring despite the endless winter mizzle.
What’s next for Holistic Silk in 2020?
We are never more relevant. Our products really can make stressful life a little bit easier and enjoyable. We will continue to reduce our packaging footprint, maintain and strengthen our ethical production methods and align the business for the future with relevant items that we deem to be aesthetically pleasing and truly effective.