If there isn’t a movie of Deborah Mitchell’s life story in the pipeline, there should be. A tale of creativity, determination, double crossing, disappointment, tenacity and ultimately success, it has all the ingredients of a box office smash
Beauty therapist to some serious A-listers including a gaggle of Royals and Hollywood stars, Deborah Mitchell has carved out a niche range of luxury products and beauty treatments, Heaven Skincare that deliver what they promise – a novel idea in the industry.
Working out of an idyllic setting in Shifnal as well as a salon in Covent Garden and more recently Harvey Nichols Birmingham, Deborah’s brand has had glowing reviews from high profile names ranging from the Beckhams to the Windsors. We caught up with the lady herself to find out where it all began.
As a teenager Deborah developed acne and quickly became frustrated that none of the products on the market worked, so rather than suck it up and accept her skin she made her own formulas. Her college course in Telford provided ingredients and encouraged students to mix their own creations. It was trial and error of course and there were a few bus journeys home from college with a rather pink complexion, but she got there in the end. Once she had the acne under control she added in another ingredient – Roman Chamomile to stop the redness. Success.
In Deborah’s first job in a beauty salon, there were only five products to work with, so again she developed her own and the clients loved them. A disused disabled loo at Deborah’s gym provided her with the ideal opportunity to branch out on her own. She convinced the manager to let her have the space and with a bit of TLC and a couch she had her first beauty room. Once it was established, Deborah moved up in the world, graduating out of the former loo and into the gym’s sunbed room. Thanks to word of mouth her popularity grew. Deborah recalls: “I had five girls working around the clock 8am to 10pm!”
Then, bizarrely Duran Duran came knocking and Deborah found herself travelling with them treating the band and their other halves. She met lots of other celebs while touring particularly in LA and ended up treating many of them including Jack Nicholson, which was ‘exciting’. It was a pretty exhausting time too as Deborah was working extraordinarily hard. She’d fly home, fall asleep in her car at 2am and be back in the salon at 7am.
Clients started asking if they could buy the products, so Deborah began contemplating packaging designs and contacted companies who could make the products in larger quantities. Having found a company she liked she expectantly handed over her formulas and designs which was a big mistake. Delivery day came and went and when Deborah chased the supplier she was told there wouldn’t be a delivery. She hadn’t signed a contract. Devastated, significantly out of pocket and with her precious formulas in someone else’s hands, Deborah decided to fight back and vowed to make her products even better.
Cue Age Defiance which is still one of the best sellers today. As well as making skin look younger, it also stops spots and Deborah recalls Victoria Beckham calling her personally to thank her for fixing her skin having struggled with blemishes for years. Deborah remembers: “I was surprised it was actually Victoria rather than her agent!” The press got wind of it and positive stories about Heaven began circulating which boosted the brand’s growing reputation.
Department stores wanted to stock the range, turnover increased and interest from overseas was taking shape. A large shipment to Dubai sold out in a week, so they began buying more and more. Product development was full steam ahead and further treatments were added. Asia became a big market for Deborah with an initial tussle between a Taiwanese distributor and a large US conglomerate offering big bucks.
POP TO PRINCESSES
Different salons bought the products and more famous faces were chatting publicly about their skincare regimes such as Kylie and Danni Minogue. At the time Danni was a judge on the X Factor so there was a lot of interest. Simon Cowell pops up to Shifnal in his helicopter for treatments too. When the palace got in touch about a ‘very Royal person’ wanting to have a treatment, Deborah had to pinch herself. The Duchess of Cornwall has been one of her clients ever since and has recommended her to other Royals too although we’re not naming names.
One of the ingredients Deborah utilises which sets the products apart is bee venom which she says ‘is better than Botox’. Bees are milked of their venom, but Deborah’s quick to point out they’re not harmed. A small electric current is sent through a pane of glass which the bees are set upon causing the bees to ‘sting’ the glass depositing their venom which can then be scraped off and used.
Deborah explains: “Although the venom is released, the stinger can’t be released as the glass is too hard, so the bees live.” Patented as Abeetoxin which is a complex mix of bee venom, honey and botulinum, it’s unique to Heaven. Although the products are expensive Deborah says: “they are unusual in that they make the skin look immediately better – you don’t get that with most skincare products.”
Deborah has avoided being stocked in department stores after a bad experience with House of Fraser years ago, but was convinced by the fit of Harvey Nichols at the Mailbox where she has a full medi-spa offering various treatments including Oxy-hydrate which is like sand blasting for your skin such is its smoothing effect as well as laser therapy and of course the famous Bee Venom facial.
Deborah is never still and a real worker, so there’s more development on the cards as well splitting herself between London, Birmingham and Shifnal. This down to earth Midlands girl did good.