UK Spa Association
Ishga – Organic Seaweed Skincare
My name is Leon Trayling and I am Co-founder and Director of ishga. I have been involved in the wellness/spa industry for 30 years and no matter what my role has been over the years my passion has been making people feel good ether through fitness, spa or skincare.
About 11 years ago I was introduced to Malcolm Macrae who we had been sourcing seaweed from for seaweed baths at Blythswood Square Spa in Glasgow. Malcolm had created a pot of cream with seaweed extract and asked if I thought I could sell it in the Spa. After a number of conversations myself, Malcolm and Martin Macleod started a company that’s focus was to create a brand that had seaweed at is core. After about 2 years of development and raising funds "ishga" was born, launching with 5 face products, 3 body products and two treatments. Fast forward 9 years and we now have over 30 retail lines, the same in professional products and an extensive innovative treatment list. We partner with over 70 spas in the UK and distribute as far away as Japan, Australia and the US.
We often reflect on the development of the brand; an important part of the development was the creation of a brand wheel. The essence of our brand is seaweed, one of our 3 pillars is provenance and where we are from, a key personality trait is trustworthy, and a very important value is sustainability. These all help us ensure we are making the right decisions to protect the environment we are in and ensure our process and practices are developed with sustainability in mind.
What do you offer in terms of sustainability for the spa and wellness sector?
Certified organic by the Soil Association in line with COSMOS standards, ishga is sustainably sourced and produced in the Hebrides. Conscious of the huge impact of plastics on the oceans, the brand carried out a comprehensive review of its products, packaging and manufacturing processes in 2018.
Over the last 4 years has been implementing the findings of this review, phasing out plastic packaging and replacing this with packaging made from eco-friendly material that can be recycled.
The first step was the launch of the ishga’s Uplifting Body Spray with its frosted glass bottle and aluminium atomiser spray and over cap which are both 100% recyclable. This was closely followed by the launch of our Hydrating Hand Cream which also comes in a frosted glass bottle with and aluminium dispenser.
ishga has now phased out the plastic jars used for its Antioxidant Marine Cream, Exfoliating Face Mask, Hebridean Sea Salt Scrub, and Men’s Marine Cream. These have been replaced with frosted glass jars with aluminium lids. These jars are 100% recyclable while also maintaining the luxury feel and look to the products. ishga will continue to progress this process with a view to becoming completely plastic free.
In addition, ishga has now also phased out the use of laminated product boxes and in production latex gloves, wet wipes, and bubble wrap have been replaced with biodegradable gloves, biodegradable wet wipes and shredded paper. In the professional range, ishga has switched from using plastic buckets to biodegradable paper bags for some products such as bath salts and seaweed powder.
Tell us about your latest project and how this fits with Sustainability.
We recently worked with Mastercard to promote and support their Priceless Plant Coalition initiative that aims to preserve the environment through the restoration of 100 million trees in five years. This was activated at the recent Women’s British Golf Open which involved the ishga team promoting the initiative to a global audience and donating a portion of retail revenue to the coalition. We will continue to work with partners that have the same values. From a product development perspective, we recently developed and launched our shampoo and body bar that completely removes plastic packaging and finally at Spafest in 2021 we made a pledge to no longer produce single use plastic sachet samples for customers to try products.
What would your 1 piece of advice be for anyone wanting to open up their offering to be more sustainable?
I think there is a long way for any of us to say we perfect from a sustainability perspective but as long as we are making conscious decisions in line with a common goal of being kinder to the planet the future will be a positive one.