People behind the products
Purity, energy, balance
The inspirational founder of ila Denise Leicester talks to JANET BRICE about the true meaning of “beyond organic”
When you open your next ila product box take a moment to look at the gold spot embossed on the top.
I bet you’ve never noticed it before – but this gold dot is known as a Bindi and means your gift box has been personally sent out to you with a blessing.
Each and every jar is also placed over a small gold square mat, known as a Sri Yantra, and blessed as it is filled with hand-blended ingredients such as Himalayan Crystals, Damascena Rose Otto or Sandalwood.
With such exotic ingredients sourced from around the world you may also be surprised to learn that this personal touch is carried out in a barn in the heart of The Cotswolds in England.
And this is where I was about to meet the founder of ila Denise Leicester to talk about how she has built up such a successful global brand in less than a decade.
As I crunched over the gravel path towards the barn it was simply a case of following my nose as the scent of essential oils wafted from the doors and windows and out across the rolling English countryside.
On entering the building I was struck by the peace and serenity of the staff and as the ingredients are blended and distributed around the world from Hong Kong to Mumbai all I could hear was the gentle sound of Eastern chanting.
Denise arrived looking fresh-faced despite just jetting in from a recent spa conference and happy to talk about her time as the guiding light behind ila.
What does ila mean?
ila is the Sanskrit word for Earth and the ancient Earth is the very heart of ila.
What is the philosophy of ila?
Absolutely everything in ila products comes from a plant or mineral and nothing else. This stems from our faith in the power of nature as the source of real wellbeing.
We seek the highest levels of purity in our ingredients, which are mostly organic, where they are not it is because we believe we have found an alternative of even greater purity.
Purity is vital to ila – our products are beyond organic as they work on a deep level to restore, to nurture and to balance.
What does “beyond organic” mean?
Going “beyond” means getting in touch with the heart of the earth and this is ultimately our relationship.
Beyond Organic means supporting people who have a great relationship with Mother Earth and bringing a great product to share in the market place.
Where do your source your other ingredients?
In the foothills of the Himalayas you will see slopes covered with Indian Rose Damascena with an exquisite smell. Here we found Pawan and his family who have been growing and distilling roses for many generations while also supporting local rose farmers.
As the rose petal are distilled immediately after they are picked there is no loss of purity or potency. Water drawn from the earth simply by solar energy is mixed with the petals in copper vats and heated by the natural fire fuel of cow dung.
Our salt crystals come from the eastern end of Pakistan at the point where it enters Kashmir. We met people mining rock made of salt crystals. The rock is hard, pink and of an extraordinary age, having been formed hundreds of millions of years before man walked on the earth.
We source our Argan Oil from the Lower Atlas Mountains in Morocco as this is the only place in the world you will find the ancient Argan Trees which are 84 million years old. The Moroccans have always prized this tree and the Berber people have harvested the nuts for its oil. The purest most concentrated extract is used for massaging into the body and is famed for being rich in omega fatty acids and anti-oxidants.
What was your inspiration to start ila?
I am a medical nurse and worked for the Royal family in Dubai and also trained in yoga, aromatherapy, reflexology and counselling.
“I was struck down with ME and told I would probably never work again… This affected me for seven years and during this time I became very sensitive to what nurtured me and what depleted me.” Denise Leicester. I was nurtured by Mother Nature and all that was untouched and pure.
I got energy from this and ate organically but also noticed what I was putting on my skin and also started to link this to my health.
This is when I started to source the pure ingredients which we now use in all the ila products as they not only respect your body and are totally natural but we also respect the environment.
What are your plans for the future with ila?
In the next five years I would love to open our own ila spa with wellness being the core.
But I am delighted with what we have achieved especially our ambition to give back to the environment which is very important to everyone at ila.