Love Thyself – Driftwood Aqua Magazine Q&A Winter 2013/2014

Love Thyself

Love Thyself

Driftwood Article

Figs & Honey — make a resolution to treat yourself well


Lisa Sliwowska gives a treatment to a client with her own line of products.
By Elizabeth Nolan – Gulf Islands Driftwood
Published: January 07, 2011 10:00 AM
Updated: January 07, 2011 10:36 AM

On a dismal night last November — a night when most people wouldn’t be out unless they had to be — a cheery kitchen on Bayview proved the exception to the general blahs enveloping the island.

Maybe it was the champagne and hors d’oeuvres liberally circulating that inviting room, or perhaps it was the bountiful charm of host Lisa Sliwowska, the owner of Figs and Honey Beauty Therapy and Healing Arts Centre.

A party in celebration of the official launch of Figs and Honey’s product line, the event was a tribute to Sliwowska’s natural ability to make people feel welcome and comfortable. That ability is at the root of her calling as a beauty practitioner and healer.

While the line of women snapping up the new products at the party would seem to describe a well-established dominion, in fact Figs and Honey is a fairly recent phenomenon, although a long time coming.

The single-room spa attached to Sliwowska’s home was established only last year, the end result of many years spent travelling the world, diving into love and having children before the entrepreneur finally came back to a very early passion.

Sliwowska was brought up in a privileged London, England home, the youngest of three siblings. Her father, who was raised in Cyprus, had left his childhood in the lemon and orange groves of the Mediterranean to become a wealthy importer of fruit in the UK.

Even as a child, Sliwowska had two passions: interior design and beauty therapy (known as esthetics in Canada). But her parents wanted her to have a professional career and convinced her that taking care of other people’s bodies would probably be disgusting. They settled for her enrolling in secretarial/business school.

Her training in marketing took Sliwowska to the Kingdom of Bahrain, where she worked for the New Zealand Dairy Board, and further travels saw her living in Athens and San Francisco before moving back to London. She married twice (the first time at 18) and gave birth to three children, to whom she devoted her full energy for many years.

During her second marriage, Sliwowska’s husband decided he wanted to emigrate to Canada. She was not convinced, but agreed to visit Salt Spring for a one-week holiday. Like so many other people on the island, that week was all it took.

“I fell madly in love with the place — it was exactly the place I wanted to live and raise my children,” Sliwowska said.

Despite her cosmopolitan upbringing, she dove into rural life, establishing a bed and breakfast and farm at the Old School House. She also started a successful interior design business. For family reasons Sliwowska returned to London in 2007, where she unexpectedly found herself single again.

In an effort to sort out her life, she enrolled in a course in beauty therapy, “to see if my parents were right or if I really did want to do it,” she explained. The results were amazingly positive: Sliwowska, never a devoted academic, was first in her class of 35 women.

The decision to really go ahead with her dream only came after returning to Salt Spring and successfully fighting a bout with cancer. Sliwowska explained, “It just woke me up to the importance of living your life true to who you are — and also using your gifts.”

As an interior designer, Sliwowska had discovered a gift for using colour and design to create a home that would be uplifting and restorative.

“I was pretty sure my other gift was a gift of giving through touch,” she said, noting that even a pedicure treatment transmits a powerful energy from provider to client.

“When I say beauty is healing, it’s because you’re nourishing yourself, taking time for yourself. You’re healing yourself.”

The business name, which came to her in a dream, is itself indicative of beauty’s therapeutic element. The fig is an ancient symbol of fertility and new beginnings, while honey is a natural antibiotic and antimicrobial.

Women’s empowerment is another connected aspect of her practice, Sliwowska said.

“I have an insatiable desire to support women. From travelling the world I’ve seen first hand that women really are the underdog.

“It’s empowering for women to come to the treatment centre . . . and just the fact that they’re giving me one hour to do something nice for them, is such a gift.”

Since opening her home spa, Sliwowska has come even closer to realizing her dream with the establishment of a natural product line. Items like face cream, nourishing oil and exfoliating scrub literally smell good enough to eat and are made with pure ingredients that actually could be ingested.

The products were created by Karen Dyke, who divides her time between Mill Bay and Salt Spring and is passionate about natural ingredients. Using no chemical additives or preservatives, she bases her creations on things like organic shea butter (sourced for the Figs and Honey line from a women’s collective in Ghana), unrefined beeswax, green tea and essential oils — and of course, figs and honey have not been left out.

Another component in the line, which Sliwowska especially desired, is natural gardenia scent. Normally synthesized because it is so hard to find, Dyke found a source of the real stuff in Tahiti, where it was sacred to the Polynesians.

With full product lines for women and men, spa services and massage offered by colleague Suzanne Ambers, Figs and Honey is finally at the place Sliwowska’s girlhood dreams suggested so long ago.

“Suddenly here I am — I’m in my element and I’m so excited,” Sliwowska said.

“I have this business and it’s something I really believe in.”

Figs and Honey Beauty Therapy and Healing Arts Centre is located at 140 Bayview Road in Vesuvius. Call 250-537-1256 or 250-538-8959 to make an appointment. For more information on products and services, visit