Moo Man

Everyone who goes to the spa at Soho House is a cow.

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NEW YORK — Everyone who goes to the spa at Soho House is a cow. Well, perhaps not, but owner Nick Jones and the team behind the transatlantic private club’s skin and bath range, Cowshed — launching this week in the U.S. at Barneys New York and Fred Segal in Santa Monica — have quite a laugh thinking that way.

Be they a Stressed Cow (translation: a foam bath), a Saucy Cow (hair conditioner) or a Pore Cow (toner), anyone would get a kick out of the bath and body line of organic, essential oil-laden products that offer equal servings of indulgence and a very British humor.

This story first appeared in the October 13, 2003 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

“There’s nothing like being able to subtly send someone Grumpy Cow,” Jones explains in the restaurant at Soho House, looking quite refreshed after a treatment in the New York club’s newly opened Cowshed spa. “De-stressed Cow,” he laughs wryly, “that’s my favorite.”

Cowshed, which now features 17 products — from body creams to massage oils — was born five years ago at Babington House in Somerset, England, the country sister to Jones’ London club. “We have a spa at Babington, but we didn’t want to call it a spa, because that’s something that water comes out of, really,” Jones recalls. “And it’s a bit pretentious, isn’t it?” Cowshed was an obvious name, because, yes, the spa is housed in an old dairy next to the property’s main house.

The Cowshed body range was born at the same time. “We wanted to develop our own products to put in the rooms at Babington because I hate those little boxy soap things,” Jones says, pulling a face. Conveniently, down the road from Babington lives an apothecary. “Richard in the purple suit,” Jones calls him. No one involved will reveal his last name, referring to him solemnly as “our secret weapon.”

“Richard in the purple suit,” who also has his own cowshed, tends to a walled garden at Babington, where he grows lavender, vegetables and flowers to add to the burgeoning line. “He is very critical of what’s on the marketplace,” Jones adds. “So our products are 100 percent organic. And although the names are a joke, the product is of a very good quality.”

Jones et al named the Cowshed concoctions over lunch and “a bit of wine.” Suffice it to say that things got more creative the more wine was consumed. “We’ve got loads more names, as well. I got Scruffy Cow today,” he says. “People in New York get the humor,” Jones adds, “and that’s the important thing.”

Also in the pipeline: Spoiled Cow, a body cream that is “completely luxurious — you have a beautiful smell on you all day,” and a new range of baby products.

Jones also is scouting sites for a new Soho House in Los Angeles. “Hollywood, wherever — I have no idea yet.” Clearly, the private club concept has legs. “The membership thing was a big risk,” Jones observes. “Would New Yorkers buy into it? And the answer was definitely yes. The amount of people on the waiting list is incredible.”

For other extensions of the Soho House brand, Jones has considered a line of home accessories. (“At Babington, guests all try to buy bits and pieces, like the mattresses. It’s hard to get a good mattress.”) But all in good time.

“You know, the great thing about Cowshed is that it’s not our only business,” he grins. “It’s fantastic when you do something by accident, and it works out.”

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