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It’s Day ONE of International Women’s Week! Meet the inspiring entrepreneur behind three luxury beauty brands and WIN a selection of her award-winning products…

We hear a lot about how women are taught not to take up space. And so, instead of just having one token day dedicated to women, we’re having an ENTIRE WEEK, International Women’s Day is fine, but no thanks – we’re having International Women’s Week. So this week, we’re hosting a series of interviews and competitions, each celebrating women and featuring one amazing female entrepreneur.

First up, we have the truly inspiring founder of no less than three luxury beauty brands: ila, ilapothecary and Soul Medicine. A former nurse, Denise Leicester’s business started out life in her kitchen at home in the Cotswolds. Today, you’ll find ila spa’s natural beauty products being used in luxury hotels across the globe – as well as at the company’s very own spa here in the UK. Ilapothecary – Denise’s most recent venture – is an ‘accessible everyday range which taps into the new mood for beauty products which do more than simply look after skin’. And there’s also an ilapothecary store offering rejuvenating treatments to be found in London too. We spoke to Denise about women, business and inspiration…

What does feminism mean to you?

For me, feminism is about living and breathing the unique qualities of being a woman, embracing our incredible capacity to love, to be compassionate to create harmony, inspire beauty, and bring this into all we do… The Indians have a word ‘Shakti’ which embodies our feminine spirit and feminine power.

A woman who inspires you and why?

Amma, an Indian Spiritual Teacher who touches the lives and hearts of millions with her love and compassion.

What are you most proud of in your career?

Being able to reach out to people and uplift their lives in some way.

Tell us about your favourite female-authored book?

I always loved Women Who Run With Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes And Amma’s book Universal Motherhood.

How do you feel about the future of feminism?

A lot of care is needed. We need to understand our true nature as women, otherwise we cannot understand what we need, how to thrive and how to support other women. We need to embrace what’s right about ourselves, reclaim our energy and spirit and share this with the world. Many Spiritual teachers say the balance of the world lies with women awakening to their inherent power or capacity to love  – love, not as an emotion, but the most powerful force of creation in the universe.

Three female-founded brands you’re a fan of?

Stella McCartney, May Lindstrom and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Goop.

How can we make gender equality a reality?

This has so many layers and I will not do justice in a short answer. Maybe a book?

Why are women so amazing?

Two quotes that give an insight into women’s incredible energy Nolini Gupta in his book ‘About Woman’ says ‘When a man stands in front of a women he sees the reflection of his soul’. And spiritual master Sai Baba said ‘All women are divine vessels of light, restoring the balance of the world lies in them awakening to this truth’.

Favourite women in the arts?

Rosalyn Dexter – an amazing, writer, artist and designer, and I loved her latest book, Cell Rejuvenating Architecture. And of course, Emma Watson – just such an incredible woman.

What’s next for ila?

Commercially a lot of expansion and growth particularly focusing on mental health awareness in new products we are launching in both ila and ilapothecary. Ila’s heart and soul energy will be launching our ‘Healing Gardens of the World’ trust.

If women ruled the world…

There would be peace on earth.

We’ve also got four of ilapothecary’s beautiful products for you to win: the entire award-winning Beat the Blues range, which is comprised of a Shower & Bath Oil, Room Spray and Pulse Point Oil, plus an SOS Body Balm. About the products: 

In our fast-paced culture, the ideal morning routine is not just about the skincare we apply but how we apply it. We recommend applying your face and body products slowly and lovingly, infusing your being with self-love and positive energy. When we slow down and do things more mindfully, we ease ourselves into a natural state of grace that helps us to make the best choices in life. The more we love ourselves the more we can love others and become balanced and grounded to face the day.”

How to enter? Follow Reading in Heels on FacebookInstagram or Twitter – like the photo post and tag a beautiful friend in the comments – AND don’t forget to retweet/share the post hashtagged with #internationalwomensweek. That’s it! The competition closes Friday 15th March at MIDNIGHT.