HEAVEN SENT: Interview with Heaven Skincare’s Deborah Mitchell
Deborah Mitchell’s famous Heaven Skincare brand is sold all over the world and she has recently opened a brand new salon in Birmingham’s Harvey Nichols. Despite suffering from dyslexia, she has carved out a hugely successful business that can count a host of royals and A-listers amongst its biggest fans.
She talks to LISA PIDDINGTON about her best-selling products and what continues to motivate her.
Guru may well be an over-used term in the beauty industry, but when it comes to Deborah Mitchell few words are more fitting. Thanks to her multi-million pound Heaven Skincare empire, the 52-year-old business woman is world renowned for her age defying creams – most notably her bee venom range – and boasts a client list that reads like a veritable who’s who of the rich and famous.
But as a teenager, Telford-born Deborah experienced severe bullying at school due to her dyslexia; being the canny woman she is, she turned this to her advantage. “I’m certainly not saying that bullying is ever justified,” she explains, “but for me it meant that I hid in the library during break times and that gave me the time I needed to do extra research and pass my exams.”
She also suffered from severe acne, which again she turned into a positive giving her the impetus to think up products suitable for her troublesome skin. She signed up for a beauty course at her local college and became a mobile therapist at just 17, using what she learned on the job to devise remedies that would help specific complexion complaints. “I starting mixing and blending essential oils into various creams and using them on myself.
“I was very inventive even then, I’d try anything. I would not have worked so hard to find a solution to my own skincare needs without having acne; it made me realise what a terrible torment it can be.”
One of the first products she created was her Age Defiance Cream – designed to combat break-outs – and it quickly put Deborah’s brand on the map, becoming a firm favourite with a host of famous faces. “I believe this was the product that really kick started my success,” she says. “It’s been used by Victoria Beckham, Cameron Diaz, Gwyneth Paltrow, Claudia Schiffer, Michelle Pfeiffer, Zoe Ball and Tess Daly because it helps keep their skin spot-free and in great condition.”
However, of all her natural, organic products it is her must-have bee venom masks, dubbed the “facelift in a jar”, that remain her best-sellers, thanks to fact they control the facial muscles to tighten, firm and lift while at the same time penetrating fine lines to give an immediate anti-ageing effect.
So where did the idea of using bee venom come from? “Historically, bee venom has been used as pain relief but it had never been used as a skincare product before. I’m always dreaming and I use my dreams to fuel my ideas. I wanted to find an alternative to Botox after I noticed wrinkles starting to appear on my face. My sister is a beekeeper, so I had a lot of information about bees and honey in my head and I just knew what I had to do. Being dyslexic, my brain has to work harder than other people’s but this has always helped me see things that others may miss. I guess it’s similar to a blind person having extra good hearing.”
Twelve years ago, the mum-of-two began experimenting at her kitchen table and developed her patented super ingredient ABEETOXIN®, a
formulation of bee venom, Manuka honey and botulism, the natural form of the toxin used in Botox that can be harvested in bee hives. “My
clients loved it straight away but it took another three years to get it sold around the world. It has since gone on to be one of the most successful face creams; we have the world patent now and yes, there have been many copies in different formats, but I hold the key!”
She is quick to point out the venom used is extracted without causing any harm to the bees – she devised a system where they are encouraged to sting a pane of glass with an electric hum running through it. This means the venom is milked and the insects survive with their stings intact.
Despite travelling around the globe training therapists, meeting clients and promoting her business, Deborah remains one of the country’s most popular facialists, regularly treating the likes of The Duchess of Cornwall and Simon Cowell. She also continues to perform therapies at her flagship Shifnal salon in Shropshire where her two-year waiting list is testament to just how in demand she is.
With her famous roster of celebrities, does she ever get star struck? “No, I never have. I admit I get very shy when I meet anyone new in a normal social setting, but when I am looking after clients and know that I can help them I realise how good I am at my job.
“I have always loved looking after people and I still have a passion for inventing new products,” she smiles. “I’m very happy with my success but it still feels strange when I’m in a coffee shop and I get recognised. When I think back to being bullied as a teenager it reminds me that I haven’t done too badly, eh?”