#WomenBehind18Keys: Tracey Woodward

Tracey is a highly respected, experienced CEO and consultant who has worked in the beauty industry for 35 years for brands including Aveda and M&S. 

She is also a board advisor, a business coach and mentor, and a member of the 18 Keys campaign committee.

Can you share a bit about your background?

I’ve been in the beauty industry since I was 19. I started as a beauty consultant at Debenhams in Croydon and worked my way up, doing various jobs in beauty, from counter girl to CEO. I learned to read and write at almost 15, having a troubled upbringing. 

I was attracted to the beauty industry because the women had nice shoes, great hair, good skin, and seemed to have fun. I’ve always loved promoting self care, wellbeing, and prioritising oneself to build self-confidence.

Tracey Woodward

Why are you supporting the 18 Keys Project? 

I actually came up with the 18 Keys name, so that was my first involvement!

I had experienced semi-homelessness as a child. After my family was evicted, my mother and I moved into a bedsit with no money or support. We never had a stable home until my mother secured a council flat. Throughout my life, the fear of homelessness loomed.

18 Keys’ mission resonated with me because I knew the importance of having a secure home. My mother experienced abusive relationships, and the fear of homelessness impacted our lives. Having a safe and secure space is crucial, and those who have experienced the threat of homelessness understand its importance.

Though I never fully experienced homelessness, I empathise with those who have. As a young person, I often wanted to run away but never did, fearing where I would end up. It’s easy to step out of your life but difficult to step back in. I joined 18 Keys to prove there’s a model that needs to be established, as working with women and charity has always been important to me.

What does having a home mean to you?

In control. Valid. Having somewhere to retreat to when you lock the door, you hide away the world. With the influence of social media and everything else that’s happening, it’s very easy for people to be isolated, which is, again, another reason why I love the 18 Keys concept, because there will be 18 rooms for these individuals to lift each other up and support each other. I think that camaraderie is amazing and so important.

What is your favourite room at home?

It’s always been my bedroom. I mean, I love the kitchen, I love to cook, I love having friends in the kitchen and chatting and I love the living room. And I love the bathroom because I’m a beauty person. So there’s nothing better than drawing a bath and relaxing in a bath.

But my bedroom is where I meditate, it’s where I stretch, it’s where I read my most of my books. I’m a fanatic about bed linen. I have the best sheets possible and the best pillows and the best duvet. To me it’s the ultimate luxury.

What sort of feelings come to mind when you’ve had a difficult day, when you come home and you can shut the door behind you?

When I come home, I take the day off. So the first thing I do is I remove my makeup. It’s all about getting rid of the day, the day’s emotions, the day’s energy, and being grateful for the lessons. So it almost becomes a bit like a meditation.

My morning rituals and my nighttime rituals are so set on how I destress and revisit the day. The things that I’ve learned, things that I don’t really want to carry, the negativity or any challenges that I’ve faced, I use that whole time to let go and learn.

The 18 Keys project will come to life in a redeveloped property owned and managed by The Connection at St Martin’s. 

Our goal is to raise £2.3m. Your support will help pay for the redevelopment, which will include one-to-one therapy rooms, studio apartments, emergency bed spaces and a new communal area.

You can make a one-off donation, or set up a regular donation. Donate here.

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