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In conversation with Heidi Billington of Tonic Room

Photography by Tracey Creed
Words by Heidi Billington

Published December 29 2022

Heidi Billington is the founder and creator behind the Tonic Room, a holistic store and spa located in Tāmaki Makaurau that enacted a shift in how people take care of themselves. As a naturopath, Heidi shares her love for wellness and healing, expanding into the innate power of nature and how we, as individuals, also have a certain amount of power within ourselves to achieve wellness. Dive in.

After years of travelling the world, you long dreamt of sharing what beauty and holistic wellness looked like to you. What’s been the most challenging lesson you have learnt since you started your business?

It's been an incredible journey creating our beautiful business over the years and one I am so grateful. Treating the skin in a more holistic manner, both topically and with a focus on the inner self, is one of our main philosophies, and it is catching on. As holistic beauty is becoming more popular, along with our choice of curated holistic skincare brands, it's about keeping focused on your own dreams and not spending too much time looking over your shoulder or at other businesses trying to compete in your space. Comparison (not just business) really is a joy destroyer, and whilst you still need to be aware, don't let it get under your skin. Pun intended. I've learnt that we should focus on working together, not competing, especially in the growing holistic wellness and clean beauty space as we all need to showcase it as the best way forward.

Tonic Room only stocks products that are 100% natural. This vetting process continues to set you apart. What does natural mean to you?

We source our brands and products with a 'clean' ingredient list. This means working with brands who are transparent in what they use within their products and can answer any questions or concerns our clients or we have. All our practitioners have a say as to what goes on our shelves and what is used in our treatment rooms. New products are trialled and tested for quality, clean ingredients and how they make us feel before we take them on. If we find a company begins to change their ingredients or ethos, we don't hesitate to pull it off our shelves.

Your background is in naturopathy and medical herbalism. How do we benefit from integrating these healing modalities?

We learn as naturopaths about the power of nature and how we as individuals also have a certain amount of power within ourselves to overcome or avoid disease. Our body has such an innate ability to restore balance and bring about health, given the correct environment to work from. Start with fresh air, water, sunshine, and nutritious food, alongside rest and relaxation, sleep and exercise. Following on with the understanding that the body and mind work together to create inner and outer wellness, recognising how you think will affect how you feel. These are the principles that we try to help our clients understand and incorporate into their lives. There are many times a client will book in for a facial but leave with a herbal tonic, nutritional advice and a whole lot of inspiration — that is what we strive for.

In a world that increasingly celebrated the individual over the collective, prioritising growth and profit at the expense of Mother Earth and one another — care came into deeper focus during the pandemic. Did we all start to care for one another and the planet more?

I think the pandemic definitely showcased the power of Mother Nature. Life changed overnight back in the 2020 lockdown, and many people were forced to take a deeper look at their lives and how they have been treating themselves and the planet. We found that our treatment and therapies became increasingly in demand as clients looked for ways to deal with emotional blockages, and stress and seek guidance on how to better nourish themselves and their families. The old saying that you 'can't pour from an empty cup' seems to be how many of our clients are feeling. We try to incorporate all aspects of healing within our treatments and appointments, and our practitioners refer to each other depending on what the client needs.

What advice would you give for maintaining a balance between nourishing and protecting yourself while helping those around you?

Live more simply. The pressure of living out of your means to be 'accepted' or 'successful' can take its toll. Be uniquely you, and once you feel complete within yourself, you can easily support and lift up others.

Holistic treatments include massage and reiki, which drops the body down into a deeper relaxed space which is optimal for healing. If someone is unsure where to begin or how to incorporate this type of healing work, where would you start?

Just try it. These treatments are an individual experience, and no appointment will ever feel the same. Trust us, and in the process. You have nothing to lose and a lot of relaxation to gain.

What are your top five products from your store currently?

With Christmas around the corner, wellness gifts are flying off the shelves. Brands such as Vitruvi, Maison Balzac, Arc Atelier, Sans [ceuticals] Abel Odor are some of our client's favourite gifts. Along with Tonic Room gift vouchers, of course!

And finally, how do you balance it all? Do you have any daily practices that anchor you and keep you balanced?

I walk in nature, do yoga and meditate. The more I do those, the better I feel.

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