Former Hockey Player Mandy Powell Was A Straight Shooter . . . And Still Is As Boss Of The Goodwash Company

Mandy Powell liked the simplicity and directness of the dressing room when she played international sport.

“If you were too slow, someone would tell you that you needed to work on your speed,” says the former hockey and touch rugby player, who played for Wales in both and is now the founder and CEO of The Goodwash Company.

“If your skills weren’t up to the mark, the coach would point it out. It wasn’t dressed up; it was just factual and then it was up to you how you responded to feedback.

“I never had a problem with that. But some people in business take things too personally.

“In sport, athletes take feedback as a gift because they want to improve. In business, some people take it as criticism, but I never have and that’s been a useful transferable skill I’ve taken with me.”

Powell played hockey for Wales U16s, U18s, and won two caps for the senior Wales women’s team while she was playing club hockey for Cardiff.

A torn cruciate ligament in her early 30s ended her days with the stick, but she regained her fitness and took up touch rugby, going on to become a dual sport international, attending a European Championships, where Wales finished runners-up.

Soon after, though, she tore her Achilles tendon, and turned to business, with her sporting outlets restricted to the occasional day spent surfing and daily walks with her dog.

So, what happened next?

After starting in teaching, she left a successful career with global pharmaceutical company Pfizer to create The Goodwash Company, along with former Arsenal and Wales footballer, Kelly Davies.

It’s a luxury Welsh brand of ethical skincare, you might find in the bathrooms of leading hotels and country houses or stashed deep in the kit bags of leading sports folk.

There’s a sports range which “brings a warm and peppery blend with fresh citrus zing to your post-workout shower,” – just the thing after you’ve done your cardio routine or scored a hat-trick.

But there was more to her decision to leave Surrey, and the corporate world, than just creating a luxury bi-lingually-marketed hand wash with a pleasing whiff of lavender.

“Pharmaceutical companies are about profit, profit, profit every year and more profit. That’s not really me and I think there’s more to life than that,” she says.

“I wanted a company that was not just about profit, that contributed to social entrepreneurship, that supported worthwhile causes – which we do, with charities and support for grass roots sport.

“And we wanted to make it Welsh and include the Welsh language on the product because although I’m not a Welsh speaker, the more I’ve learned about the language the more I am fascinated by it and find it  beautiful.

“When we told this to some marketing companies in London, they literally laughed us out of the room and said no-one would buy it. But we’ve done it.”

When Powell sets her mind on an idea, she likes to dig in.

When teaching in Neath, she was told by the headmaster that girls didn’t play football or rugby. They were boys’ sports and didn’t need to be offered to the other half of the pupil intake.

She bypassed him and went to the parents instead, setting up teams for both sports.

“Who says girls can’t play certain sports? That was ridiculous. It’s like our brand. Who says a boy has to smell of wood and musk and girls have to smell like peonies? Why?”

The sporting links don’t end with the CEO’s own background, either. The Goodwash Company have a partnership with the Football Association of Wales and when the Welsh Rugby Union wanted to give an after-match gift pack to the players who played in the TikTok Women’s Six Nations clash at home to England this season, they chose Goodwash.

“I went into the President’s lounge after the game and one of the England players, Sarah Bern, came up to me and said, ‘Are you Goodwash? I recognise you from Instagram. I love your stuff! I buy it all the time!’

“And she pulled out a bottle of ours and told me she takes it everywhere with her and her teammates loved it, too.”

So, if you see an international sportswoman – or man – heading for the dressing room, the chances are they could have a bottle from The Goodwash Company wrapped up in their towel.

“I like sports people and I have a lot to be grateful for, having played sport, which I take into business.

“I like to say things as they are, to speak my mind, and give it to people straight. You have to do that in sport, and it works in business, too, otherwise you waste a lot of time in a conversational word salad.

“Sport also teaches you to adapt and learn new skills on the go. That’s another invaluable transfer into the business world.

“That old saying about jumping out of an aircraft and learning to make a parachute on the way down. It’s true.”