Meet Bonita Spencer-Percival
As the world celebrates International Women’s Day and we come together to raise a glass to the strides that we’ve made as women and for women, we chat with Co-Founder of No.1 Botanicals and Director of Fabulousness, Bonita Spencer-Percival to learn more about our leading lady.
A wildly successful woman in her own right, Bonita Spencer-Percival has lived a life many would envy; from her early dancing career to her later role as a costume designer and stylist on some of the world’s greatest stages, she’s certainly seen and done a lot. But what’s kept her grounded and motivated throughout this journey? Her passion for her art, her hard work and meticulous attention to detail has brought her to the position she now enjoys so much. “When it comes to the arts, it’s right or wrong- there is no shade of grey” she says. Breaking from her stream of bright and light anecdotes, Bonita shares her personal mantra, which she formed as a young dancer in the Corps de Ballet with the prestigious Royal Ballet Company. It’s a mantra that has gone on to influence her life and work ever since.
Bonita started out in life as part of a close-knit family, growing up on a council estate in South Wales with her sister and parents. From an early age she showed a very real love for the stage; mesmerised by costumes and design, and most of all a true and raw passion for dance and movement. Setting her mind on becoming a dancer and working tirelessly to succeed in this ambition, she committed hours to practise and rehearsal. Supported by her mother through it all, Bonita describes her mother as an influential figure who she still cites as “the most amazing woman and the inspiration of my life.” There was simply no stopping the ambitious young Bonita; from humble beginnings to the life she enjoys now. At age just fifteen she realised her dream of becoming a dancer and was accepted as a student at the Royal Ballet School and went on to be invited to join the Royal Ballet Company as a member of the Corps de Ballet. This was her first step on the incredible journey…..
In her first role with The Royal Ballet Company Bonita’s natural inclination for hard work was honed into a flawless work ethic. Her dance teachers drilled into her the true importance of preparation, of rehearsal and attention to detail. A self-confessed perfectionist, Bonita attributes her solid work ethic to lessons gleaned from the teachers at the company. It was in this role that Bonita was able to fully develop her creative spirit; her colleagues and teachers encouraged her to explore the full breadth of her vision and to never be fearful of trying out new ideas and styles and that is exactly what she did.
The careful nurturing of her innate creativity and passion for art, not only served Bonita well in her dancing career, it set the stage for her later career as a designer and stylist. She was hand-picked by the world renowned director and choreographer, Anthony van Lasst CBE, to collaborate as costume designer on the highly successful and innovative Burn the Floor programme. As the show that inspired today’s Strictly Come Dancing, you can imagine the behind the scenes work required for everything to look perfect; the costumes had to be both beautiful and functional, moving with the dancers. Bonita was the woman at the head of this operation, putting together designs for 600 costumes including wigs, tattoos, makeup and more. A massive feat, this work experience is the perfect example of Bonita’s commitment to making things beautiful; pouring her efforts and energies into everything she does. It’s this commitment that came in handy when she went on to work as stylist to the globally famous boy band, Take That. A stark departure from the world of theatre and ballroom dancing, Bonita was thrown head-first into the fast-paced trendy world of pop music and boy bands! She rose to the challenge magnificently; she found a way to tie her unique designs and taste into the current fashion trends that the boys had to wear. It was in doing so that she seamlessly created a distinctive style for the band that they loved. Such was their love for Bonita and her style that they asked her to do everything for them - from dressing their dancers, working on the sets of Top of the Pops, CD:UK and behind the scenes at interviews across the world, she was there. Her dance training shone through yet again, with the boys referring to her affectionately as the “pre-set queen” for her unwavering call that they “rehearse, rehearse, rehearse”.
Having been shaped by these unique experiences, Bonita now sits atop the successful and unique business of No1. Botanicals, which she owns and runs with her husband, David Spencer Percival. Co-founder and Director of Fabulousness, Bonita is responsible for making the No.1 Botanicals brand what it is today. Her keen eye for style has served her well in this role, where she has been able to decide the signature and instantly recognisable brand. Like others before, her passion for the project is what has driven its success; she refers to it as her and her husband’s “baby”, the perfect manifestation of his and her interests and creativity. Laughing as she describes herself as the “brand dragon”, we see yet again her ballet trained perfectionism coming into play. She’s ferocious about the small details, insistent that everything is perfectly in line with her and her husband’s vision for the brand at all times, she’s a true perfectionist. She’s the brand guardian.
When asked about her role in the launch of No.1 Rosemary Botanicals and what impact she feels she’s had on the business as a woman, Bonita simply answers that it has always been a business of equals. “My husband and I work in tandem with one another, albeit on different sides of the coin,” she reveals thoughtfully. “It is in doing this that we’ve been able to create a fully rounded and realised brand, that is accessible for all.” It is in this respect that we see Bonita’s true value as a businesswoman; she knows her talents and her abilities, as well as those of other people around her. She owns her space and her artistic flair, and she’s confident and assured in her abilities and it’s this self-awareness and self-respect that she believes is fundamental to the success of any woman in business or in life.
“Always be true to yourself,” she confides in us. “That’s the secret”.