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Before LUSH there was 'Cosmetics to go'. Writer Mira Manga tells us more about the company, LUSH's new book and products we'd love to make a comeback…

You are the author of LUSH’s first book ‘Danger: Cosmetics to go’. Could you give us a summary of what it’s all about?

So long before we had LUSH, all the founders who came together to form LUSH were working on a different company called ‘Cosmetics to go’. This is where all of our iconic products were originally made like the shampoo bars, the bath bombs and our fresh face masks; so all these creations and innovations came from ‘Cosmetics to go’. It was really at the very heart of our beginnings. It was a very beloved little company and was only via mail order. ‘Cosmetics to go’ only lasted for 6 years but we still have customers coming into the LUSH shops saying ‘Oh I miss this product’. I suppose we had to write the book because customers have been asking us for so long for a book all about LUSH, so it’s really lovely to deliver a book all about our history. At the very beginning of the project in November 2011, I did a pitch to Mark [Constantine] who is a co-founder and he loved the idea.

You’ve obviously mentioned Mark Constantine. I believe he had previously read some dating encounters you had written…

(Laughs) Yes, it’s absolutely true! If I’d had a really terrible date, I would send my friend an e-mail and she always said that I needed to write a book about dating disasters. Somebody slipped Mark a chapter and it really tickled him. He liked the fact that I have this certain writing style and he was a fan of the band I used to be in called ‘The Duloks’. We were a comedy band and he knew that I loved playing with words, so he said the book doesn’t need to be preachy or boring. We decided we wanted the book to be like a chat with a friend who was trying to explain the company to you. So my friend passing him the chapter was really a blessing in disguise – I feel very lucky. One of the things I love about the book too is that all the founders gave me so much time. Even if it was following them around or popping into their office to ask really random questions, they were so giving and the book really is just straight from the founder’s mouths. They literally told me the stories and I’m so grateful to them.

Some of the stories in the book are absolutely fascinating. Could you believe that one of the founders, Rowena, had a stint on Channel 4’s ‘The Big Breakfast Show’?

Knowing Rowena it’s absolutely no surprise. She has always excelled; when she has had to present in front of an audience and I have watched her, or whenever she is doing our LUSH TV, Rowena is a natural communicator. She brings this lovely warmth and the way she communicates is so lovely, and for me it makes so much sense for Rowena to have been on ‘The Big Breakfast Show’. Even now I love that she presents our LUSH TV, and it was such a great thing to discover about her.

How do you think that LUSH has revolutionised bathing and skincare?

Well what I learnt from the whole process is that LUSH never ever look around to see what anybody else is doing. They are literally like teenagers who haven’t been told that there are rules, and in the book there are a couple of instances where the team are excited by ancient Egypt. The natural thing for them was to design a whole men’s range around ancient Egypt. They love superheroes too and they created a range all around superheroes, so when you look at LUSH products and even our spa treatments, they’re like nothing else that you would ever see. You could have someone saying ‘I’d really love a spa treatment under a duvet’ and they will make it happen. Really they have revolutionised the cosmetics industry by being true to themselves through their creativity and their passion. The ideas for our products are quirky and unconventional and that never fails to translate into something beautiful. All the ideals that they have, the company have stuck to. They’ve always fought animal testing and they like to put money into the products for development and essential oils rather than the packaging. We really let the products speak for themselves.

Are there any products you would love to see make a comeback from the ‘Cosmetic to go’ range?

Oh absolutely! I was actually very fortunate because when I started the project, small batches of ‘Cosmetic to go’ products were made so I could try different things. I was fortunate enough to try all these different products and the Serpentine shampoo I got to use was gorgeous. Some of the hair conditioners were just fabulous. There’s a really beautiful shower gel from the luxury range called Lemon Melt, and if you can imagine a beautifully thick lemon meringue soft shower gel, it was just gorgeous! The Violet Nights bath oil was a big favourite and when you put that in the water it goes milky, smelling of Devon violets and Parma violets. It reminds you of being on holiday and transporting you there – just a really lovely product. There are so many things and thankfully we’ve got the Happy Hippy Shower Gel in LUSH stores! Some mornings I feel as if I couldn’t get up without it. The interesting thing is for example we had a bubble bath called Rose Tinted Spectacles, which really celebrated that flower, and now we have come full circle with the Rose-Jam Bubbleroons. We always know that LUSH will constantly surprise and delight us with the products. It’s such a wonderful feeling.

And it’s not just the products that are creative and delightful either. LUSH also have a wide range of spa treatments…

Well I’m very lucky because I actually get to work with the Spa musicians sometimes and for the ‘Comforter’ treatment I got to sing on a few tracks. Their spa treatments never fail to feel enchanting and then you just go on this magical journey. I’m a big fan of the treatments.

    Sarah's posts By Sarah O' Hara



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