About Elfland UK

Where It All Began

Elfland UK is the vision of Clare Anderson, Founder of Sensory Retreats, and her young daughter Siena.
Clare has been in the beauty industry for over 30 years and is a passionate advocate of the importance of complete wellbeing for mind, body and soul.

Sensory Retreats is the multi-award winning wellness home to the self-heating eye mask range, featured on ITV This Morning and winner of a coveted 2022 ASOS Beauty award.

Retailing a collection of holistic wellbeing products, inspired by the professional spa industry and driven by a passion to deliver multi-sensory, self-curated experiences. Sensory Retreats was developed during the first lockdown to help take the consumer’s wellbeing journey to another level. The consumer range features a wonderful collection of products and treatments that can be enjoyed at home or in spas.

Clare Anderson & Lost Wish Book
Clare Anderson, daughter Siena & Lost Wish Book (1)
During lockdown, it became even more apparent that kids and not just adults’ mental and physical needs were affected. Clare realised that tapping into the underlying ethos behind the Sensory Retreats brand, while adapting the product range specifically to cater for the wellbeing needs of children, could be the answer to helping children be more present and aware in the moment.

The result is Elfland UK. An online portal for children that includes a range of products delivering a host of wellbeing benefits and positive affirmations, alongside woodland based experiences that focus on the importance of sensory stimulation.

Clare’s ultimate wish is that children, alongside their parents, will be encouraged to reconnect with the world around them, using the healing power of kindness, mindfulness and nature to simultaneously relax but also recharge over-stimulated bodies and minds.
The Lost Wish Book Illustrated Characters
Clare Anderson, daughter Siena

Want To Learn More?

An Interview With Clare

Tell us about the initial inspiration behind what has developed into Elfland UK?

It all started with my daughter Siena, always one of my biggest inspirations and the reason why I am so passionate and driven about supporting children’s wellbeing.

We both love Christmas and had been enjoying the festivities in December last year when Siena became intrigued and concerned about what all the elves got up to when they weren’t making presents and bringing the magic of Christmas to life.

With true childlike innocence, Siena asked whether I thought that elves ever had time to relax and unwind? And if they did, what might they get up to? Did they like to hang out with their friends and make magic or mischief?

It certainly got us both thinking and using our imaginations.

How did that intrigue and innocence lead to you developing Elfland UK?

While looking for outdoor festive activities to get involved with over the Christmas holidays we came across the local woodlands ‘Enchanted Christmas’ event which was exactly what we were looking for. A magical outdoor setting with activities and a nature and adventure theme.

We had discovered these local woodlands and gardens the previous year, and it is somewhere we had always found quite magical. It also happened to be a firm favourite of our family dog, Buddy! He loves an adventure just like the rest of the family!

After the event, Siena confided in me that she’d made a very special wish that day…she wanted to create a special place where elves could go to visit, relax, unwind, and play when they weren’t working hard making all those Christmas toys. She thought that a woodland wonderland would be the perfect place. So, we spent the next 24-hours huddled together and coming up with a crazy plan to create an outdoor adventure concept, which could become the very first home of our Elfland Adventures, and so started the creation of the enchanting and magical world of Elfland and our story of The Lost Wish. More on that later!

What makes the perfect location for Elfland and tell us more about Elfland Adventures?

I love the outdoors and believe there is nothing better for the body, mind and soul than being active and amongst nature. Woodlands have such a magical feel and are the perfect place for children to explore, learn and use their imagination. Our concept is to create the very first Elfland Adventure experience at our local beauty spot but also encourage families to use their own imagination at their local park or woods where kids can embrace being outdoors, being at one with nature as they embark on a range of wholesome activities such as treasure trails, building stick mazes, making leaf art, making boats and sending special messages down streams.

Elfland can be anywhere, and it is what your imagination makes of your surroundings that makes it magical and unique.

Elfland Adventures is where we are bringing our idea to life, a place where children can visit and be guided through our activities. We have collaborated with a local forest school and worked together to ensure all our activities have a focus on creative imagination and wellness.

How did the concept grow from there and
take on its wellbeing message?

Working in the spa industry, wellbeing is at the core of what we do every day, so it was natural for this to be on my mind when we started the Elfland journey. Always one to embrace a challenge, and keen to encourage Siena’s creativity, I wanted to help more children unlock the power of their imaginations through outdoor play and could see how this could benefit their wellbeing in a positive way.

At first it was about bringing something to life that Siena and her local friends could enjoy, to encourage them to get away from their screens and enjoy fresh air and outdoors adventures. But our initial ideas just snowballed and took on a new life as I envisaged the home of Elfland Adventures as the location for an enchanting and magical children’s book.

This was to become The Lost Wish and is without a doubt the most exhilarating and rewarding adventure I’ve ever been involved with, perhaps more so because I’ve been on this crazy journey with my daughter.

So just how did you go about writing The Lost Wish? They do say everyone has a book inside them!

When Siena and I started to explore the imaginary concept of Elfland Adventures we were thinking about what a visit there might look like, what characters we might meet along the way and the adventures that could unfold.

Our creativity was on fire!

It was December 2021 when we first started to write down our ideas and just 3 months later, The Lost Wish book, with a little inspired help from some friends along the way, was bought to life!

So are Siena and yourself both keen readers and writers?

Good question! And quite honestly, NO! Well, actually that’s not strictly true but I would say that both Siena and I are more of what you’d call “visual learners’’ we love stories and story telling but are drawn to creative activities to express our ideas and to find a place to escape, before reading.

I was certainly never academic as a child and in fact, struggled throughout school with dyslexia, so I hope that the story behind how The Lost Wish was brought to life becomes a hugely inspirational one for children and parents in a similar position. It’s all about belief.

We hear that Siena was inspired by none other than David Walliams. Tell us more about that.

It all started with a school project back in 2019.

That term, students were given a task to write, and more importantly receive, a response from their favourite author. Siena chose David Walliams. I used to read his books to her when she was younger to try to encourage her to read and she loved his quirky characters.

Around the same time, the Radio Times was running a competition to meet David. The competition involved coming up with the single most important question you would ask your favourite author if you had the chance to actually meet them and being a fan of his, and being inspired by her school project, Siena was excited to enter and decided to take the challenge to a whole new level!

Each day for a month, she drew, to the best of her ability, every single front cover of David’s children’s books and submitted her questions wish a drawing. Her persistence and determination clearly paid off and we were absolutely delighted (not to mention more than a little gob-smacked) when Siena was selected as one of the 12 finalists.

How did Siena feel about meeting
David Walliams?

At the time she was just 7 and it was an incredibly exciting day for her. Along with the other 11 competition winners Siena got to meet David, he told the children jokes and chatted for quite some time when they all asked their questions. David then read a chapter from his most recent book, FING. It was a really special day.

Meeting David was one of the best days of Siena’s life and and definitely sparked her imagination and inspired her to become more creative.

So we know that David Walliams inspired Siena, and your local woodlands inspired you both, but just how did The Lost Wish come to be?

Hard work, late nights, passion and determination! Oh yes, and a little help from some friends (and their families)!

I was already running 2 businesses, looking after the family home which includes, besides my husband and Siena, our dog Buddy (who features in The Lost Wish) and 2 rabbits! But I loved the idea of doing something different, especially with my daughter’s involvement too.

I was telling my friend Victoria all about the idea and as luck would have it, she just so happened to have a sister who was a self-published author, Emily Jacobs, who has gone on to bring my vision for The Lost Wish to colourful life.

So just how did the relationship between yourself and Emily develop? How did you work together to bring the vision for The Lost Wish to life?

It’s been a completely collaborative process.

I like to consider myself as the “custodian” of the story with Emily beautifully tapping into my imagination and breathing words and life into the tapestry of it. I’m a visionary but I struggle to articulate myself on paper. Together with Emily, also supported by a wonderful editor, Sim, I’ve been able to truly bring The Lost Wish vision to life, without being embarrassed by my grammar and spelling!

I am a firm believer in fate and that things happen for a reason and people come into your life exactly when they are meant to. Emily, Sim and the entire The Lost Wish team were meant to collaborate creatively.

The next fateful “plot twist” brought me to discover the wonderful illustrator of The Lost Wish, Emma. Again, another family member of a friend of mine. Emma felt like our missing link. As a CGI designer for Disney, she had all the credentials and creativity to bring these characters of mine to life.

For me, family connections and collaborating with like-minded people makes it an enjoyable experience, so I’m delighted that based on Siena’s initial descriptions, I have been able to build a new team that are now an extended part of the Shared Beauty Secrets and Sensory Retreats family in Elfland UK, my newest company created for Elfland Adventures, The Lost Wish book and our other Elfland range of wellbeing and sensory products.

Tell us a little bit more about your own inspiration Clare and what is that drives you so much?

I am naturally quite driven and a doer, once I get a spark of an idea, I enjoy the creative process and whilst I have worked in the spa and wellness industry for my whole career I have realised these are skills that transfer to anything I enjoy doing.

One big inspiration in my life is my younger brother, Rory. Rory took his own life at the age of 19 and despite being the most difficult and tragic experience my way of making sense of it is to live life to the full and to grasp it with every fibre of my being and channel my energies into doing as much good as I possibly can.

Since that time, I’ve focused on supporting ventures for mental health and wellbeing not just for adults, but also for children. It’s an ethos that underpins all my business ventures. I love to be able to give something back.

As a big charitable supporter, it was important that I could use this venture to support a charity close to my heart. In this instance, I’ve chosen the Make A Wish foundation which is such a wonderful fit and, I’ve set them up to benefit financially from box sales of our Elf Eyes Self-Heating Eye Masks, one of a number of retail products we are launching later this year.

We’ll also be giving away 100’s of wellbeing prizes which will include a Sleepy Elf Meditation, Elf Eyes Magic Wish Wands as well as sleep inducing Pillow Sprays.

How would you describe working on this project?

It’s undeniably the most rewarding and exciting thing I’ve ever embarked on, besides motherhood! To have Siena alongside me every step of the way is a huge honour and a privilege that has allowed us both, together, to create and share a little bit of magic!

What advice would you give to anyone else who has a book within them but isn’t quite sure how to bring it to life?

Know your own limits, be honest about what you can do and where do you need help. Don’t be afraid to go out there and find people who can support you. All you need is an idea and the drive to find people who can help you on your way. But also be prepared to work very hard. Just getting to the stage we are at of a finished book with artwork and a marketing plan has taken a lot of effort. We are now at the next exciting stage of getting it published and onto the shelves in time for the Christmas gifting season.

Can you tell us what your ultimate goal is with this project Clare?

Interwoven throughout The Lost Wish are constant positive affirmations and storytelling techniques designed to encourage kindness, mindfulness, resilience, creativity and independence. Elfland Adventures has been created to develop imagination and share an active and positive lifestyle for children.

Ultimately, my greatest desire for both Elfland Adventure and The Lost Wish is for it to reinforce the importance of each individual child’s self-belief – an invaluable trait and a powerful and necessary tool for success in business, and life.

I want to empower every child, no matter what their background, to be able to unlock their inner elf!

I would love to encourage families to be able to sit down and read together and reconnect to the world around them. To allow their imaginations to run wild, unencumbered, and free. I hope they can tap into their imagination and bring about their own inspired version of Elfland – whatever theirs may be.

You mentioned retail products. Can you tell us a bit more about what you have in development and how Elfland UK inspired this latest range?

I’m passionate about supporting adults (and now children) in their pursuit of wellbeing and relaxation.
Sensory Retreats already has a range of wellbeing products that tap into all 5 senses, including a collection of self-heating eye masks, massage oils, aromatherapy candles and rollerballs.

Again, inspired by Siena who had previously asked if she could help me design an eye mask specifically for kids, Elf Eyes self-heating eye masks magically came to life.

We know that kids love our self-heating eye masks, and they can easily be adjusted to fit smaller faces and used as a blackout mask overnight. Initially I was a little concerned that Elf Eyes might have a limited Christmas gifting shelf life. But there are so many different kinds of elves, inckuuding the woodland ones found in The Lost Wish and they are definitely not just for Christmas.

With the entire Elfland UK concept now a reality, under pinned by its strong focus on wellbeing for kids, now felt like the right time to launch this and other sensory based products to help encourage a better night’s sleep for children and to tap into the wonderful journey. The main question is, are you ready to surrender to your inner elf! I like to think that every child (and some adults too) has one.

Elf Eyes masks heat up when placed over the eyes which is a truly magical experience for children. They help to calm and relax overactive minds anytime of the day or night but especially during the busy festive period.

They do also make a lovely addition to any Christmas Eve box or Christmas stocking and will help the whole family relax and sleep the night before Santa comes when excitement is at its peak.

Can you tell us a little but more about the other products you’ve created?

The Lost Wish is an exciting story and it might be hard to stop at reading just one chapter a night! That’s where Remi the Sleepy Elf can help. Remi is Elfland’s very own Sleepy Elf, keeper of the grand sleep secret! As such, Remi has a very important role to play, helping children everywhere relax, rest, reset and experience a blissful and re-energising night’s sleep.

Remi, the Sleepy Elf, has been designed to help children, through the power of their imagination, to reconnect with the world around them, using the healing power of kindness, mindfulness and nature to simultaneously relax but also recharge over-stimulated bodies and minds. The result, a better night’s sleep for everyone.

Remi will be available to purchase as a super cute plush toy who comes holding their very own mini eye mask!

As with the other eye masks in our adult range, we also wanted to include a free gift with purchase and decided that a dreamy visualisation would be ideal.

Our Sleepy Meditation scripted to encourage deep relaxation and prepare the body to unwind before sleep. In the meditation, you get to meet Remi, the Sleepy Elf (using the power of suggestion and imagination) and go on a magical sleep journey together narrated by Natalie Samuel.

This meditation can be listened to without the use of the Elf Eyes self-heating eye mask but for the ultimate deep sensory sleep experience I recommend popping an eye mask on your little one, spritzing their bed sheets with or sleep-inducing pillow spray and tucking Remi under their arm so children everywhere can feel safe and protected, not to mention sleep well, throughout the night. It’s the perfect Christmas Eve set up for all the family!

So, what’s next Clare?

I’m going to take on board my own advice this summer and take a much-needed break from work to relax, reset and unwind! To take a moment to appreciate the world around me and the people in it who have been a part of my journey so far.

Although saying that, I might not be able to help myself and begin work on The Lost Wish 2. Watch this space as they say!

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