Lisa Mann launched her ethical essentials online shop a week into lockdown. Here she talks of using the time as an opportunity to slow down – when she’s not cycling 100 miles, that is
I have only lived in two places: Norfolk and the Midwest in the United States. I lived out in the countryside as a small child, next door to a smallholding, which I guess is where my love for animals comes from. I spent many a day sitting in the cowshed chatting to the calves and collecting the eggs from the chickens. I moved to the Midwest at 13 which was a bit of a shock to the system and took some adjusting but eventually, I began to meet like-minded people. I was grateful to be able to travel the States and even had the opportunity to be a model for a hairdresser on a runway in New York City which all seems a bit of a blur as I was so nervous.
I became a vegetarian at the age of 16. I would have liked to have been one much earlier but my parents didn’t think you could have a healthy lifestyle as one. Although, when I asked my mum what my favourite food was as a child she said Brussels sprouts so they should have known it was inevitable.
I had my daughter in the States at 29 and have raised her as a single parent. We moved back to the UK when she was three and have lived here ever since. One of my saddest and yet proudest moments was sending her off to university as it left a big hole in my life. I was lost as to what my purpose was. Up until then, my purpose was to raise and take care of her but all of a sudden I felt lost. I remember people saying things like ‘take an art class or something’ but that didn’t seem like enough for me. I had always been conscious of the planet and what we as humans are doing to it. I had taken an Open University course on environmental studies and the more I learned the more I wanted to do something to make a difference. When my daughter returned from university a vegan it just seemed that I should follow her lead and with those two things becoming very prominent in my life the Re-Store was born. I was and still am a part-time hairdresser and holistic therapist.
The Re-Store had already been hatched before lockdown. I had had my first website designed and stocked up on some products. The plan was I was going off to Sri Lanka for two weeks and then when I came back the launch was supposed to happen.
I have actually embraced lockdown. I used it as an opportunity to slow down, get more in touch with nature and learn some new skills. I loved living in my shorts and T-shirts and having dirt under my nails. Having extra time also gave me the opportunity to work on my present website. Although money has been tight it has shown me how little we need to be happy and what we can do with what we already have.
Obviously launching my business at the beginning of lockdown was not great but things are improving slowly and I believe in what I’m doing and that it will be successful because there are a lot of people out there having a rethink about what’s important.
I have just turned 53 but that doesn’t stop me. As I get older I seem to challenge myself more. I ran a marathon at 45 and after getting into cycling over lockdown I joined friends last weekend to cycle 100 miles. I go out on my bike two or three times a week and also do spin classes via Zoom twice a week. I also started doing online yoga over lockdown which I really enjoy and is a great contrast to cycling.
I think, now more than ever, it’s important to take stock and realise that we need to do something to help preserve our planet. I love a quote I saw recently that said ‘It’s like Mother Nature has sent us all to our rooms to think about what we’ve done’ and for me, that totally sums it up.