Grumpy Cow, Moody Cow, Lazy Cow – not phrases you immediately associate with top-end beauty products, but that’s just what they are. Cowshed products, to be precise. “Our names might be playful, but the decisions on formulations are taken very seriously,” explains Cowshed director and Notting Hill resident Christina Russilo, “where we use only the best organic and wild crafted plant extracts and the highest quality essential oils.” Trust us, you can tell.
Christina came to be a fellow West London resident when Nick Jones (founder/CEO of Soho House) brought her over from New York City to head up Cowshed four years ago. She spent the first eight months in Chiswick, but was soon drawn to the cooler vibe of Westbourne Grove. Christina attributes her love of this area of West London to how much it reminds her of New York, “it has such a great melting pot of nationalities, that gives it such an awesomea feeling of urban cool. I find it really inspiring."
Out of all of the spas, it's hardly surprising that Christina has a bit of a soft spot for the Clarendon Cross branch – living on Westbourne Grove, it’s her local neighbourhood spa. “After being in New York for almost 10 years, my priority when flat hunting was to find a London location that offered everything I needed within walking distance,” she says. “In Notting Hill, I’ve found that.”
With Cowshed Clarendon Cross being their flagship branch, it was important to create something a little different for Holland Park. “We mixed things up a little”, says Christina. “We combined the typical indulgent Cowshed spa experience with a cosy, ‘farmhouse style’ kitchen café, with a relaxed yet social space for our customers. You won’t find any whale music or clanging symbols here. Cowshed spas are all about sociable grooming, they’re a place to visit with friends and are the antithesis of the stuffy spas, where you’re shushed whenever you laugh. We encourage laughter and chatting." It seems that this unpretentious approach to the spas resonates through to Cowshed HQ too. Christina reveals it as "a casual, open-plan office with lots of 'banter'. Our motto is ‘Take your work seriously, but not yourself’."
Born in the late 1990s out of the impossibly chic Soho House Group, Cowshed is now one of the UK’s most prestigious beauty brands, with five spas in the UK and three overseas, and many more in the pipeline. Now into their 14th year, Cowshed still have a few surprises up their sleeve; after a successful collaboration with Liberty, their next partnership is with Sweaty Betty. They’ve created two gift sets for them, Fit Cow and Bendy Cow; both available from Sweaty Betty’s Chepstow Road store in November (2013). This August, Cowshed will also be marking a very special occasion this summer - their 15th year anniversary! To celebrate, Cowshed will be launching a new limited edition handcare inspired by the old Victorian walled garden, from where the brand first blossomed at Babington House. Also, during their anniversary month, Cowshed will be celebrating its spa heritage with the reintroduction of three treatments originally created for the first spa opening 15 years ago.
Christina’s aim for the next two years is to open spas in Mumbai, Istanbul and Chicago, in addition to their existing spas in London, New York, Miami and Berlin. “We’re always looking for opportunities that open our brand in to new markets, says Christina. “So watch this space!"
The obvious question is just how does she find any time for herself? Christina details that when she isn’t busy working with Cowshed, she simply loves to spend quality time with friends, preferably eating at Pizza East or Shoreditch House, of course.