Q. What led you into the wellness field?
Reaching the age of 50 and realising I had to work harder to stay fit. I wasn’t ready to be classified as ‘old’.
Q. How did you come up with your business idea?
In 2008, I began studying for a master’s degree in luxury brands and services and my thesis was on the convergence of medicine and the global spa industry, for which I won the university thesis prize. It provided the basis of the business plan for Grace – a space that is a sanctuary for women; a place that supports them in health and wellbeing, as well as in mind and soul.
Q. What is your advice for staying well while under pressure?
Setting up a business is not for the faint-hearted; you need grit. It is a seven-days-a-week commitment, 12 to 15 hours a day, for a long time. I eat healthily 90 per cent of the time and aim for seven hours’ sleep a night. To practise what I preach, I have begun meditation, deep breathing and acupuncture, and I always start the day with a cup of fresh mint and ginger tea.
Q. What is the Grace USP (unique selling point)?
Our 360-degree approach means we’ve created a special place for women to be nurtured and empowered; a haven with the best of the best under one roof, from medical and spa treatments, to healthy eating and fitness, and an eclectic events programme to complete the mind, body, soul circle. Our food is also a draw: simple, healthy, nutrient-dense and delicious. What is unique to Grace is our wellbeing and ageing-well menus, created by an integrated team of experts.
Q. When did you know Grace was on the right track?
When members started to say Grace had ‘saved their lives’. So many have felt empowered by the recalibration that an hour in the club can give them. Grace is a place to restore the balance of work, family and friends; recharge and rejuvenate; meet empathetic people – and have some fun at the same time.
Q. How do you learn to take a step back?
While I have a great team, as with any entrepreneur, it’s tough to let go. I know I have to for the growth of the club and my own health and emotional stability – letting a capable team take the reins, while I focus on our strategy for the future.
Q. What is the biggest sacrifice you’ve made for the business?
My private and family life. We are in our fifth year and I’m still pretty much working 60 hours a week. Holidays are factored in now – but so are up to three hours a day of emails. My saddest regret is missing out on my first grandson’s early years. My daughter felt abandoned. My husband has been amazing and supportive, because he knows I need the mental stimulation of work, but I have to remember that he needs my attention, too.
Q. What brings you balance?
I like long walks and lots of fresh air. Being able to realise when ‘me time’ is necessary helps. I now train in the gym on some mornings – yoga, Pilates and boxing. Once a week, I go speed-walking in Hyde Park with my daughters; this is totally rejuvenating since we talk most of the time and put the world to rights.
Find out more about Grace at gracebelgravia.com