Green Peace: How one woman’s poor health led to a business brainwave

Health problems following a botched operation prompted Davina Peace to opt for an organic lifestyle. And, unable to find skincare products or scented candles that matched her eco-luxury spec, she decided to launch her own…

Davina Peace

Davina with her candles, which are the products of her own 'chemical-free' ethos

To be honest, post-recession, the eco-movement could probably use a new ‘poster girl’. Organic sales are on the up again (15 per cent higher in September than the same month last year), but rather than recycle Sheherazade Goldsmith and Donna Air to remind us why we should be enjoying a greener lifestyle, it’s something of a breath of fresh air to encounter Davina Peace. A name which, if she has her way, will soon be appearing in a bathroom – or flickering on a living room mantelpiece – near you, now that her eco-luxe lifestyle range of bodycare and heavenly scented candles has been snapped up by Harrods. ‘I still have to pinch myself,’ smiles Davina, 29.

Not only was Davina raised about as organically as it’s possible to be – with a father who worked for the Soil Association’s certifying arm, and internships at the organic charity’s Bristol HQ – she has come to discover, first-hand, how living a purer life can have a positive impact on wellbeing.

In her mid-20s, Davina developed endometriosis – a fairly mild case at that point for which her doctor recommended minor surgery. But something went wrong. Davina lost a lot of blood during surgery, and the internal scarring from the operation left her in infinitely worse pain than before, with her organs almost ‘glued’ together. Since then, she’s had five more operations, ‘including one to harvest a handful of eggs,’ she says (this way, if she decides to have children, she has the option of surrogacy).

So, from ‘endo’ (as she calls it) to body oil and scented candles; not the usual career path. ‘One reason I went into business was because it had became hard for me to hold down a job,’ Davina explains. ‘I had to have a lot of time off – for operations and recovery. Although Saatchi & Saatchi had been incredibly understanding about my illness.’ (Davina worked her way up to account manager at the ad agency after leaving Reading University.)

On sick leave, Davina began to research whether lifestyle changes might make it easier to cope with the unfortunate legacy of her illness. ‘I already ate mostly organic food; now it became 100 per cent organic, because I didn’t want any chemicals in my body.’ Wheat, dairy, alcohol, sugar and caffeine were taken off the menu, too. ‘I still suffer terribly if I deviate from that,’ she says. ‘Plenty of studies show that even if you can’t cure an illness, lifestyle can directly affect it.’

The skincare range

The skincare range

Having become super-conscious of what she put in her body, Davina realised that it made sense that what she put on it should be as pure as possible, too. ‘I was looking for beauty products that smelled fabulous and had great ethics. I just couldn’t find them. So I came up with my dream range.’ 

After such a struggle on the health front, Davina was due a break, and she got one: a serendipitous meeting with Charles Denton (the man behind Molton Brown) at a green awards ceremony. He could see the potential of a lifestyle range and agreed to invest in her ideas.

The packaging had to be recycleable and, wherever possible, reusable. Pump dispensers were out: ‘You can’t recycle the components so they go straight to landfill.’ What’s more, the sensuousness of the formulation had to match that of luxury rivals, ‘which appeared impossible till we found a fabulous skin-compatible ingredient called crambe, which I persuaded a Lincolnshire farmer to grow for me’. Davina travelled to Grasse in France to work with a ‘nose’ on the candle fragrances (the only element of the range that isn’t 100 per cent British) that would re-create important memories from her own life – from white flowers, which remind her of her first romantic bouquet, to the citrussy smell of Italian holidays.

Ultimately, she hopes to channel profits into a Davina Peace Foundation for women’s health. ‘I wouldn’t have chosen to go through my health challenges for anything – but there’s no doubt I am now more empathetic as a person. When I was growing up, all I ever wanted was a family of my own,’ Davina acknowledges. ‘To have that potentially taken away from you is the most horrendous thing. But whatever happens, this is my baby…’

Davina’s range starts at £28.55 and is available from Harrods, tel: 020 7730 1234, and at


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