In the late 1950s, it’s fair to surmise that women were certainly living in a ‘man’s world’. For Eve Taylor OBE, this was especially true; as a mother to five young boys and surrounded by the confines of domestic demands, Eve longed to step into an altogether more glamorous and feminine environment.
Determined to find fulfillment away from the home, Eve seized at a new opportunity and duly became the first Avon lady in the South of England. Although excited for the role, Eve quickly realized she lacked the training and product expertise in order to effectively sell to potential customers. However, unlike today, gaining beauty knowledge via colleges and training courses was not easily available. “In those days, there weren’t colleges you could attend to train in beauty, but I found a small beauty school run by Mrs Lawrence,” Eve tells us. “It wasn’t cheap and I didn’t have the money to pay upfront for a full term of learning, so I managed to negotiate a deal in which she allowed me to pay on a daily basis.”
With a lot of hard work, time management and help from her mother, Eve managed to juggle studies and childcare, as well as her Avon Rep position. Following her education with Mrs Lawrence, Eve was able to establish her own visiting practice, akin to the mobile therapy of today, in order to gain as much experience as possible. Yet, it wasn’t long before she was ready to make the next move.
In 1968, Eve opened the first Adam & Eve salon in Lee Green, London. This was followed by a second location in Sevenoaks, London, which offered beauty treatments combined with a new venture of hairdressing, and ended up welcoming a very famous client. “I offered ear piercing in the Sevenoaks salon and pierced the ears of Lady Diana Spencer, who was attending college at that time and went on to become the Princess of Wales,” Eve reveals.
Skin care entrepreneur
Having launched a thriving salon business and gained a loyal clientele in the process, Eve’s next career move seemed like a natural evolution. During those early years of running the visiting practice, Eve had already begun creating her own skin care products under the name of Eve Taylor Beauty Preparations in 1963. “My original range was a small selection of skin care products which I made by hand,” says Eve. “The initial products I created were Cucumber Cleanser, Cucumber Toner, Facial Wash, Morning Mask and Satin Smooth Body Balm. Packaging was expensive in those days, and so I actually used to pour the product into Maxwell House coffee jars to give to my clients!”
Of course, when we think of the Eve Taylor brand as it stands today, it has become synonymous with one word – aromatherapy. For Eve, her personal journey with the practice began when she attended a conference to hear a speech by famous aromatherapist, Madame Maury. Intrigued to discover more about the topic, Eve went along, and the rest, they say, is history. “I was completely blown away with inspiration that day, and it was at that point that my passion for aromatherapy was ignited and born,” she says. “Even though I had done all of the previous training, I knew deep down that this was the direction of my future. I trained in full aromatherapy with Micheline Arcier, and learned as much as I could about the amazing power that essential oils offered.”
During the 1960s, modern aromatherapy was still in its infancy, and the selection of aromatherapy-based products available was limited. With a gap in the market, Eve’s obvious flair for creating new product formulations and her newly ignited passion for aromatherapy fortuitously combined, resulting in the creation of at-home blends for
Adam & Eve salon clients. “It was just a natural progression to start making products for people who wished to see improvement and maintain balance and wellbeing,” Eve explains. “I had a small selection of essential oil blends which I called face treatment oils, and I regard these as my babies. In fact, these recipes are still precious to me over
50 years later, and have retained the same formulation and signature hand blending technique which I devised.”
“Originally, these were called Geranium Blend, Sandalwood Blend, Ylang Ylang Blend, Jasmine Blend and Boi De Rose Blend,” Eve continues. “Whilst I kept the recipe the same, I have changed the names a couple of times over the years to keep them relevant. More recently, we updated the names to Aromatic Serums and called them Soothing, Calming, Clearing, Balancing and Revitalising, which has made a huge impact to sales and really brought them into modern times.”
Today, the bestselling product remains one of Eve’s original creations – Soothing Aromatic Serum. Other top sellers include the Age Resist Day Cream and Age Resist Night Cream, along with the ever-popular C+Bright Moisturiser and oil-based cleanser, Clear Cleanse.
“I think part of our cult following and appeal is that all of our Aromatic Serums, face and body massage oils, body serums and aromatherapy oil products continue to be blended using our signature hand blending and synergising technique, which is all done on-site in our own factory,” Eve comments. “There are absolutely no machines involved with this blending process, and having that hands-on, personal touch is something which isn’t seen often within this fast-paced industry.
“We manufacture all products on-site, which allows us to make smaller batches as needed and almost eradicates costly wastage, as products aren’t sitting on the warehouse shelves going out of date and needing to be discarded at cost. This policy also means we can keep stringent checks on product quality, and also assures that any products which are bought are weeks old rather than months old.” Although having purely concentrated on essential oils and aromatherapy blends, the company decided to adopt a new strategy in 2005. “We reassessed the brand and the direction it was going, as we had noticed a decline in the demand for essential oils,” Eve explains. “We had also been receiving growing requests for a skin care range to be introduced to complement the aromatherapy blends – this was to be the way forward.
“As a result, we introduced a range of skin care products, expanding and growing to how we see it today. The demands have done nothing but flourish, in the domestic UK market as well as internationally, so we were glad that we listened and came down this route.”
Indeed, since its inception, the Eve Taylor name has now become a globally recognized brand and is distributed in over 30 countries. Currently, the company’s largest export market is Asia, particularly in Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan. “We cracked this market in 1980 when we exhibited our blends and oils at Cosmoprof Asia, a beauty trade show event in Hong Kong,” Eve reveals. “We quickly realized that aromatherapy and essential oils were immensely popular.”
At 85 years old, Eve still remains the driving force behind the brand, working actively in the company as Director and Chairwoman. “Retirement isn’t an option for me – if I retired, what would I do all day? I would become the woman in the dressing gown, and that is not me. I have too many things to do and achieve.”
The company remains a close-knit organisation, with Eve’s sons forming part of the management team. “Alan, my eldest son, is Director for Research and Development; Raymond, my middle son, manages the factory and dispatch departments, and my youngest son, Christopher, is Director for Business Development and Marketing. Matt Taylor is our Brand Manager, and is responsible for the growth of the brand and strengthening the brand experience.”
On a typical working day, Eve can be found in the company’s head offices, where she’s on hand answering queries, speaking directly with therapists regarding any issues and sharing her own experiences from over the past 50 years. “I enjoy what I do. If I didn’t, I’d be out of here in a second. Some people are surprised that I’m here answering the phone because I’m the Chairwoman of the company, but why not? I have got to be involved, because that’s what makes the business successful.”
Speaking of success, Eve’s own career journey from therapist and salon owner to skin care entrepreneur ensures that there is an understanding voice at the core of the business. As such, the needs of the customer are pivotal to the Eve Taylor ethos, with the company recently implementing a new client service and experience system to strengthen their image.
“I started as a mobile therapist and know the struggles of setting up in business and the challenges it poses, so I have never wished to be elitist with new business start-ups,” Eve comments. “We keep the costs down, which makes the brand accessible to therapists of all business sizes and models.”
“We want our customers to feel valued as part of our ever growing family of stockists, so small gestures go a long way,” she continues. “We deal with lots of calls each day and speak with many people, but for that person, it may be the only call they make that day, as we have many therapists who work for themselves. As it can be somewhat lonely working on their own, if we can make their day feel better just by them calling up to place an order, then the brand is doing what it is setting out to do.”
As Eve prepares to celebrate 55 years since the brand’s inception, she continues to lead as a much-loved and respected industry figurehead. Having held such positions as Co-Chief Examiner for City & Guilds and Chairwoman for BABTAC, it comes as no surprise that her expertise, dedication and commitment have been rightfully recognized over the years, culminating in countless award wins.
Palace in 2008. “It was such an honour and privilege to stand in front of Prince Charles and have him ask questions about my work,” Eve tells us. “I was also recently awarded an Outstanding Contribution Award (at the Women Leader Awards 2017) which came as a huge surprise, as I thought I was just invited to the event. It was only when my son Christopher told me to get up on the stage that I actually realized what it was, so that was another proud moment.”
“Stick with your ideals; even when there are setbacks and things get tough, you have to carry on with that clear vision.”
With so many accomplishments to her name, what factors does Eve feel have played a key role in her illustrious career? “Stick with your ideals; even when there are setbacks and things get tough, you have to carry on with that clear vision,” she responds. “I love this business and I love what I do, and this has kept me driven. Throughout the decades, I have met so many professional therapists who I respect greatly, and knowing the support that my company has given them has kept me wanting to carry on helping them.”
“Initially, I didn’t expect the brand to grow to how it has now,” Eve adds. “I guess at the start, my approach was very organic, and I went along with different ideas until I found my feet and discovered what worked well. As things started to grow, I could see the potential and knew that we could achieve amazing things.”
With Eve’s passion still resolute, the Eve Taylor brand continues to evolve, recently adopting a rebrand in terms of packaging and its trade advertising campaign, which has seen a huge increase in new accounts coming on board. In addition, the company has introduced the new Skin Profiling Analysis system, which enables therapists to assess skin condition and get to the root cause of any underlying problems. “It’s proving highly popular, and is increasing sales for our therapists greatly,” says Eve.
There are also plans in place for the company to go back to its original roots by developing more well being products. “Whilst the industry has gone through phases of popular products, we have always made products for clients’ well being and products which help with the mind-set; it seems that the rest of the industry is catching up with us at last.”
Naturally, with five decades worth of experience to her name, Eve has become an industry inspiration for many. For anyone just starting out on their career path, what pearls of wisdom can Eve impart? “Words I have personally stood by my entire career – never stop learning! This industry is ever changing and evolving, and you can never stand still; keep on your toes and learn as much as you can. You can never learn enough, and even now at 85 years, I am still learning new things myself.”
1963 – Eve Taylor establishes Eve Taylor Beauty Preparations Limited and products her first products
1968 – The brand changes its name to Eve Taylor (London) Limited. The first Adam & Eve salon opens in Lee Green, London
1980’s – The brand exhibits at Cosmoprof Asia, leading to the appointment of its first international distributor. The company relocates from Catford London to Peterborough, Cambridgeshire. Eve begins teaching Oriental Analysis under the name “Systems of Analysis”.
1991 – Eve is appointed Chairwoman of BABTAC.
2008 – Eve receives her OBE at Buckingham Palace.
2017 – The company unveils its new rebrand. Eve is honoured with the “Outstanding Contribution Award” at the Women Leaders Awards 2017.