Melanie Ratcliffe

Ambassador interview with Melanie Ratcliffe

What brought you into the world of natural health?

Since an early age I have always had an interest in health, I was always involved in sport throughout my school years and then this progressed to me undertaking a combined honours degree in Sport and Health Studies. It is during my time spent at university that I developed an interest in natural health and health promotion. After leaving university, I qualified as a sports massage therapist and then acquired additional qualifications in naturopathic nutrition, hopi ear candling and No Hands Massage. I began working in a small chain of health stores locally to where I live, working in store as an advisor and had my own complementary therapy practice from a treatment room within. I felt that I had found my vocation and gained a lot of valuable experience, whilst vastly expanding my knowledge of the natural health industry over the 12 or so years I worked there. It was a shared dream with my mum, Sue, (also a complementary therapist and natural health nut) that one day we would like to have our own Health Store and Complementary Therapy Practice. In 2011 an opportunity came my way to finally open my own store, Bare Health and the rest they history 


How long have you had an independent health food store?

We recently celebrated our 3rd anniversary in October and became regional winners of Natural Lifestyle Magazines Retailer of the year award, which we were thrilled to receive, as this was voted for in the main by our customers.


What are the advantages of visiting an independent health food store?

At Bare Health we pride ourselves on giving sound and quality advice and excellent customer service. Most of our staff members are experienced complementary therapists so they bring their own expertise to the shop floor in their own fields but all of the staff (myself included) regularly attend seminars and receive in store training whenever possible. A lot of our suppliers also run their own courses that our staff members are also enrolled onto. It’s a huge advantage to have a team that shares our passion for natural health and believes in our ethos.

Another advantage is the products that we have to offer – there are so many supplements on the market today and there are huge differences in quality and effectiveness. The prices reflect that. We always try to educate our customers about quality over price. Product manufacturing, quality ingredients and absorption by the body are all key factors when choosing supplements. We don’t want our customers throwing their money down the pan – we want to give them quality products at affordable prices and so we stock a range of quality products to suit all budgets. At Bare Health, it is important for us to stock quality, tried and tested products.

We stock brands from leading companies within the UK Natural Products Industry whilst also supporting smaller, trusted and reputable UK based companies. This enables us to offer our customers the leading familiar brands but also something a little different and unique from new companies emerging within the natural products industry.


What is the most common ailment that you are asked to help with?

There are a few ailments that crop up frequently – joint and muscle ailments, the menopause and digestive problems.


What training and qualifications do you have?

I gained a 2:1 honours degree from Manchester Metropolitan in Sport and Health Studies, Qualifications in Massage, Nutrition and Hopi Ear Candling. I have also attended numerous seminars, lectures and completed many courses ran by leading supplement companies over the years. And nothing beats on the job training and experience! It’s certainly an industry that is constantly evolving, we are learning something new every day and keeping up to date with the latest research is really important to us. And if we don’t know all the answers? Then we do our upmost to find out - we have good relations with many leading nutritionists, biochemists and herbalists within the trade – only a phone call away!


How can you help those going through treatment for cancer?

Due to legislation/protocol there are certain conditions that we are unable to advise on, cancer is one of them. It is such a complex condition and it’s about working closely with specially trained therapists in conjunction with the customers’ medical team.

If the customer has been advised or it has been agreed that they can take certain supplements by their health care professional we will gladly help out. But we always strongly advise that patients work closely with their consultants and always keep them informed of what they are taking.

One way we are able to offer support is through our complementary therapy practice. Sue, one of our experienced therapists has just recently completed the Beauty Despite Cancer Holistic Facial course with Jennifer Young and so very soon we will be offering Holistic Facials for those undergoing or have undergone cancer treatment.

We also sell the Defiant Beauty Skincare range in store and online at – a fantastic range of natural skincare products specifically designed for those undergoing or have undergone cancer treatment. We have already been getting some great feedback from our customers.

Can you help them when treatment is over?

When treatment is completely over, yes, we can support them with nutritional advice and supplementation if needed and not forgetting our professional team of complementary therapists, our medical herbalist and homeopath are just a few examples. We always stress to our customers though that they should always seek the advice of their consultant or GP prior to embarking on any supplementation program and also so that they can be closely monitored.


Can you help people who have friends and family going through treatment?

Yes, we can certainly help those supporting a loved one going through treatment – we have a wide range of complementary therapies available and we can also speak to them in store and advise them according to their individual needs & concerns.


Why did you decide to stock Defiant Beauty?

At Bare Health we are passionate about natural skincare, yet have become aware that certain ingredients, such as natural plant oestrogens, in natural and organic skincare products can be contraindicated for those undergoing cancer treatment. So after meeting Jennifer we quickly realised that this was the perfect skincare range for us to stock in store. It filled a gap that no other skincare brand was able to fill. Those products had not been designed in conjunction with specialists in cancer care and the patients themselves, unlike the Defiant Beauty Range. It was also fantastic to hear that there was now a skincare range that looked appealing and was luxurious for cancer patients to use over large tubs of medical looking creams. After all, we ladies love our skincare products don’t we? And we like to use products that make us feel good about ourselves too! Packaging and design is just as important as the product within. But what is truly special about these products are the many testimonials from patients saying how the products had vastly helped some of the side effects from treatment such as brittle nails, dry, damaged and itchy skin. Defiant Beauty ticked all the boxes for us – it was completely natural, scientifically sound, supported and developed by experts and results driven. A no brainer really!


What has been your best day at work?

There have been many great days since opening, but one will always stand out – our opening day – this was a huge day for me. Only a few years before, I had lost my late husband Dave to Bowel Cancer. He was just 35. His diagnosis was a huge shock and more so his death just over 8 months later. It was his courage, bravery and determination throughout his illness that inspired me to make my dream a reality. And so the day we opened Bare Health was an emotional but great day for me. A scary leap into the great unknown, I'd never had my own business before, but it was exciting too – I had done it at last with the loving support of my family and friends. A very significant day in a new chapter of my life.