Lush Cosmetics and the Business of Reading

It’s hard to avoid noticing the increasing number of Lush outlets, with their kaleidoscopes of bath bombs and voluptuous scents wafting onto high streets and station concourses. Lush is certainly beautiful and smells lovely, but scratch the surface and you’ll find a company with not just an interest in ethics, but a zealous and loudly active supporter of numerous animal rights groups, rewilding projects and protestations on almost every issue you can think of.

At Blackwell’s we’ve had something of a love affair with Lush which, despite the age gap (Lush is 22, Blackwell’s is, ahem, 138), our relationship has flourished. And it has done so due to an interest in common; books and reading. They’re big on reading; reading for knowledge, for leadership, for personal development, for pleasure, and we love a spirited, intelligent youngster to whom we can feed title after title.

For our first meeting with Lush, we made the mistake of suggesting a well-known coffee-shop chain as the venue. An awful and rather obvious faux-pas that could’ve derailed our relationship before it started. We might have gone on to suggest a lunch of shark-fin soup, or foie gras. Thankfully, Lush brushed over our clumsiness and counter-suggested an independent and uber-trendy tea shop. We ordered something marked fair-trade, and hoped that the one acceptable reason for cutting down trees was to make them into books.

We got on famously, and now three years later, we populate a staff bookcase at their headquarters, and attend their annual staff conference, the Lush Summit, to showcase books, books and more books for Lush’s staff to read and grow from. Continued development and self-education are the key to a long and successful career, and no one would argue that reading is an easily accessible and affordable way to enable employees to do just that. We’d like to think that this emphasis on reading contributes to Lush’s success, and they have now invested in libraries at their HQ as well as their factories and Poole and Beak Street offices.

On Lush’s website, they quote bibliotherapist Simona Lyons, who said “Reading great literature can be transformative; it’s enriching, life-affirming and inspiring, and allows the reader to reflect on their place in the world.”

On that, we can ardently agree.

If you’d like to find out about our conference bookstalls, and how we can bring the power of books to your organisation, contact Tim Kilmartin at

See the full Blackwell’s Insights May 2017 issue here: