Jayne Wallace was once at a party hosted by the Essex gangster Dave King, also known as “Rolex Dave” or “Muscles”. She had a funny feeling in her gut about Dave, who was not a close friend. Her mouth engaged before her brain; she went up to him and said, “You’ll be dead within two weeks.” He was gunned down with an AK-47 outside his gym a fortnight later to the day. “Sprayed with bullets. Google it,” she told me. “I knew who was going to do it, too.” She’s not usually so frank. Wallace added: “Usually if I get a feeling of doom about someone, I might tell them to go to the doctor’s, get their chest checked out, or something.”
Wallace is a clairvoyant and founder of the company Psychic Sisters, whose London headquarters are on the lower-ground floor of Selfridges, next to the Nespresso concession. Her high-profile clients include Kim Kardashian, Rita Ora, Kate Hudson and many others of whom she will not speak. At the door to her shop-within-a-shop stands a wing of raw amethyst crystal as big as a side of pork. There are shelves of products: wands, a sage-burning ritual set and roll-on aura oil in different aromas, all in cool, elegant packaging and at a reasonable price (£15-£20). In January the investors on BBC One’s Dragons’ Den fought over them, desperate to get their hands on Wallace’s crystals – and in a striking change from the norm, there was zero mockery: the social media entrepreneur Steven Bartlett said he could help with her marketing; Peter Jones wanted her tarot-reading business folded in.
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Wallace held the bargaining power, and invited two of her potential investors (Deborah Meaden and Sara Davies) to go in together on the “wellness brand with a spiritual twist”. The women agreed. No wonder they wanted her stuff: Wallace was already selling through Asos and Holland & Barrett, and a week after filming, Superdrug and Sainsbury’s approached her, too. She set up the online shop three years ago: in the first year she turned over £128,000: so far this financial year, it’s over £1.2m. She employs 20 female psychics, and together their readings bring in another £15,000 a week. “I didn’t really know how well we had done, with all the financials,” she told me, blithely. But she did know she would get offers from four of the Dragons as soon as she got in the lift.
I went to see Wallace in Selfridges. She flicked her dark hair and said, “Coming in, then?” No introductions, no pleasantries. Looking back, something happened at this point. As doctors examine bodies, Wallace examines auras – or, as she explained: “I work by opening up my crown chakra at the top of my head and throwing out what I call a straw, like a beam of light, to connect with my client.” With our straws connected, sitting at a table of polished pink quartz, she started worrying at an enormous pack of tarot cards.
Was I getting a reading? I would never have assumed: Wallace charges £150 a go. When she travels to LA – teeming, you’d have thought, with psychics of its own – her diary is full before she gets on the plane. What excited the Dragons was that, in their view, Wallace has the first UK business to package up an esoteric bundle of New Age rituals and sell them like any other part of the wellness world. Things are changing, Wallace told me: even five years ago “people thought this was Gypsy Rose Lee”. She launched the line in November 2019: in the pandemic, interest in self-care soared, and there was a gap in the market for it. In the US, Gwyneth Paltrow’s Yoni eggs go for £54 a pop, but Wallace’s are just £25.
She works with a lot of business people and believes in the power of manifestation: having a spontaneous thought and sending it into the world. “You just have a knowing. I always go with my gut. I do my affirmations and I send them out to the universe. Like: I am going to be in Superdrug.” What is the difference between having an intuition that you’re going to do something and just deciding to do something? “With the affirmation, you position yourself,” she said cryptically. “Then it’s how you open the door mentally to let it really happen…”
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Wallace started to throw the cards on the table – the Ten of Wands, the Ace of Cups. She didn’t seem to be looking at them as closely as I’ve seen other tarot readers do it, but then, unbidden, she began to tell me about my father; how my parents interact in the kitchen. She told me my grandmother was behind me (it was her birthday that day). She described my child’s personality in detail and, in 11 minutes, covered every concern in my life that I consider pertinent. The only preoccupation she missed was our chances of buying a house, presumably because on that front my aura is dead.
The speed and force of what Wallace does is intoxicating: it is a fairground wonder to sit before someone and have them reel off things about you that you already know. What she gets wrong – and she does get things wrong – you drop to the floor without thinking: you have no interest in it. A cynic would stop her mid-whirlwind – “Actually, I can’t paint at all” – but in the moment, the need to believe took over. I walked out on to the street grinning. Why is it so exhilarating? Is it the eternal, childish need to be seen, to be known?
The daughter of a seamstress and a paint sprayer, Wallace grew up as one of eight children in a three-bedroom house in Loughton, Essex; she added another sibling in the form of an imaginary friend called Star. A dyslexic child, “always aware of energy and people”, she developed rheumatoid arthritis at 12, which she thinks had a big impact on her connection with the spirit world: she began attending a spiritualist church with her mother. At 17 Wallace started doing tarot, before abandoning it and going to live in the Canary Islands. When her mother died, she felt her spirit “pass to her” and picked up her cards again. The rest of Wallace’s training is mysterious – you might say vague – including a time at a college for psychics in Stansted, founded in 1964.
Wallace must be an expert in body language. Are psychics’ minds like filing cabinets, stuffed with themes appropriate to each demographic? Her sensitivity is otherworldly – reading your face, noting a momentary widening of the eye in agreement that opens up a path for further suggestion. I was surprised by the absolutes she dealt in. Where there was a 50/50 chance of something being wrong, she always got it right.
She makes all her products by hand in an industrial unit in Epping, with whichever of her colleagues is on hand to help. They also assist with the tarot readings. “A lady come today for a reading,” she recalled. “I couldn’t get anything from her. I said, ‘Look, I’m really sorry. I did not connect.’ She went next door to Carole and Carole got exactly the same.” Did she offer a refund? “I would,” she said. “But in this case the lady ended up going in with Sharon instead, and she was over the moon.”
The psychics hand-pick the crystals, infuse them with reiki energy, and stack them into little coloured tubes. Wallace mixes up the aura oils herself; she calls it “brewing”. “The others get the hump with me because there is no system. It takes a long time, but I like that.”
Her market has expanded unimaginably since she started the company. “Spirituality isn’t a thing to be hidden away any more,” Wallace said. “I think of it as like being gay and coming out of the closet. You should be able to walk into Holland & Barrett and buy a sage stick. In the past, you’d have a priest come in and bless your home. Now you can smudge [purify] that house and put that intention in yourself.”
It must be great to live so full of intention, though hard to live with a psychic’s sense of doom, whether relating to their clients, or in their own domestic life.
“The other day I got it really bad,” Wallace said. Back in Epping, her other half wanted to refill the bird feeder. “I said to him, ‘Do not get up on the wall to feed the woodpecker!’ For the last eight years, he’s always got up the ladder, got on the wall, put the bird feeder up, every Sunday after lunch. This time I said, ‘No, don’t bother.’ But he did. And then boom. He broke both his feet.”
She had to go, to attend to him.
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This article appears in the 08 Feb 2023 issue of the New Statesman, Silent Sunak