Even successful organisations sometimes need a helping hand. Founder of the Body Shop chain, Anita Roddick, felt that feng shui could inject some new energy into the stores. Feng shui consultant Simon Brown helped her outSimon Brown first began working with body product retailer The Body Shop – which is known for its holistic approach to beauty – in January 1997, when he was approached to help with a campaign on Face Reading. Anita Roddick, who founded the business in the early 1980s, had wanted to find ways of broadening people’s perceptions of beauty, and move the focus on from the narrow view represented by ‘super’ models.
As part of his training in oriental medicine, Simon Brown studied the art of Face Reading. This knowledge helped him produce in-store leaflets for The Body Shop, which soon led to discussions about feng shui within the stores.
Simon worked on a pilot project involving two London stores with Jon Turner, head of design at The Body Shop.
When the two shops had been redesigned, Simon revisited them and wrote an analysis of the changes from a feng shui perspective. ‘My view is that feng shui is one very effective way in which designers can give a building its soul and create an atmosphere in which human beings can succeed,’ he says. ‘I was excited to visit the final version, a year later, to see how much of my original advice had filtered through into the new design.’
In Brixton, south London, Anita Roddick personally took control of the planning of the new shop alongside designer Jon Turner. This enabled her to return to her business roots – spending time in the shop talking to customers as well as working on the design.
From a feng shui perspective, the new design made a significant improvement over the previous designs, but was this reflected in sales? One of the benefits of working with retail businesses is that the results are clearly defined and immediate – if the feng shui works, the sales go up. Amanda O’Shea, manager of the Brixton branch, confirmed that sales had increased by 10-20 per cent since the refurbishment, and its performance was now much better than the average Body Shop branch, she says. She loves the new look and claims the customer response has been very positive.
Jon Turner found that feng shui was a wonderful way of applying logic to intuition. But he is concerned that, with it becoming so popular, there is a danger of everyone becoming an ‘amateur feng shui practitioner’.
As to his response to the feng shui input, he says he found advice on the mirrors, materials, colours and shapes very useful and, where it had been implemented, he believed that the ‘feel’ of the shops had been improved.Body Shop Operations manager Sara Carter was involved in the development of the new shops and is particularly pleased with the colours.
She feels the shop now has a new warmth, and that the use of natural materials adds greater texture to the environment. Indeed, the use of ‘real’ materials has led Anita Roddick and Jon Turner recently to win a Design Effectiveness Award for using recycled aluminium for packaging the new hemp products.
Sara Carter says the redesigned shop has enjoyed such sustained growth that there are plans to roll out the design to the group’s 400 branches.
Simon Brown is one of the contributors to the new Body Shop Book of Wellbeing, which includes a section on feng shui. This book was the brain child of Anita Roddick who says, ‘Our holistic definition of beauty takes us into new areas where the wellbeing of the mind and the satisfaction of the soul are as important as ten top skin care tips. We’re bringing in the latest thinking on diet, exercise and physical therapies, as well as addressing the spiritual needs of our readers.’
…the feng shui analysis
The Body Shop is known for its strong holistic approach to beauty and its environmentally-friendly policies, such as a refill service so people can avoid unnecessary wastage of plastic bottles. It is also involved with the communities where its branches are located.
The refurbished Brixton shop has more rounded lines than before – reflecting the curved shapes of the human body and of so much in nature, as well as being more conducive to the smooth flow of ch’i. For The Body Shop this more natural appearance is harmonious with its environmental beliefs. The point-of-sale counter is curved and the base units and shelves around the shop have gentle curves in them. These are yin flowing shapes which give the shop a much more natural feel.
The point-of-sale counter is situated so that staff can make eye contact easily when potential customers enter the shop. This helps to create an atmosphere where shoppers feel they will receive personal attention.
Other interesting features include a demonstration table, complete with a sink, where customers can try out beauty products. This also complements The Body Shop philosophy of interacting with its customers.
The colours used in the shop are shades of green and orange. The bright green is a refreshing and uplifting shade that is associated with the morning sunrise, spring time, and Wood ch’i , or energy. This is ideal for growth and activity, and is generally stimulating for people in the shop.
The deeper, rich shade of orange is associated with afternoon and autumn. It relates to Earth Element ch’i, and creates a homely, caring ambience. Using the colours together is stimulating and energising. When combined with Fire Element ch’i, which is associated with light and found in the shop in both natural lighting and bright artificial lights, these colours work well together in terms of the principles of feng shui.
The shop has plenty of natural materials on view. Large wooden panels are used as backdrops to the shelving. The floor is covered with natural tiles and close to the entrance there is an old, decorative wooden table. This is one of Anita Roddick’s personal touches which cleverly adds a rustic feel. The wooden surfaces help to create a softer yin atmosphere, while the hard tiles keep the ch’i moving by generating a more active yang flow.
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