When you inhale the essence of a plant or flower, there is no faking your body’s reaction to it. It affects you . . . immediately and can affect you in a very deep and profound way.
This is the impact essential oils had on me when I was introduced to aromatherapy at the age of 22. Since that moment of connection with this ancient practice, I committed passionately to learning about essential oils and sharing their tremendous healing powers with as many people as possible.
Now, a full 22 years later, I’ve dedicated half my life to the art & science of aromatherapy. It’s been a challenging journey on many levels, but profoundly meaningful—and for me there was no turning back.
Starting My Journey
I’m a feeler . . . I always have been . . . I don’t know if it’s because I was raised that way by two parents who were both psychotherapists, or if it’s just the way my brain is wired. I think that being a deep feeler is one of the reasons I love and resonate so much with essential oils and with aromatherapy.
To strongly realize knowing what you are meant to do at a young age is a gift. I never questioned it. My love for essential oils was clearly going to be the journey of my life and I just kept pushing forward despite all the roadblocks I faced along the way.
Two decades ago, I was a young, single mom living on Galiano Island with my five-year-old son, Gabe, and scratching out a living picking up odd jobs wherever I could find them. That was what it was like for many of us in our 20’s on the Island ..…. It was a good life…but I was looking for a more solid direction, something that would grab hold of me with enough intensity to inspire me to throw myself into it with everything I had.
Back then, my mother’s partner, Carolyn, was taking an aromatherapy program in Ontario to support my mom’s struggle with fibromyalgia, and I was captivated with what she was doing. When my mom was soon after diagnosed with breast cancer, essential oils also became her refuge from pain and fatigue. Carolyn’s aromatherapy applications salvaged some relief for my mom when Western medicine had nothing effective to offer. In the end, I was thankful that my mom survived much longer than her doctors had anticipated. Essential oils played such an integral part in all of our lives in her final weeks. To this day when I smell the blend that I made during that time, I am transported back to some of the final moments that I spent with my mom.
The Road Forward, Bumps and All
In the months that followed my mom’s death, I would frequently travel back to this time to remember how much essential oils had helped her and supported those who loved and gathered around her. Remembering this final stage of her life would renew my resolve as I pursued my dream of being able to share the energy of aromatherapy with others.
In 1997, I registered in an aromatherapy certification course in Vancouver, while living and working doing odd jobs on Galiano to pay my bills. Shortly thereafter I moved to Vancouver and worked as a full time waitress and started my business. My move to the city was fuelled by the possibility that my business would have better chance of success if it was located off the Island. I was raising my son in a less-than-ideal neighbourhood, but it was all I could afford at the time. I used every spare moment to study and to develop products to build on my portfolio of essential oil blends and a small line of skincare products.
I set up a workshop in my basement, where I would hand-mix oils—which I still do to this day. I painstakingly snipped and glued labels onto each and every bottle.
My methods were decidedly unsophisticated, but I had good instincts for energetic mixes and my oils were the finest quality I could source. As the life-force of my blends, I never compromised on their excellence. It was because of this stubbornness about quality that I didn’t make a pinch of profit for a decade. For the first 10 years, I supported myself with various part time jobs so that the rest of the time I could devote myself to making the most effective products I could formulate—with the finest oils I could find. I lost money on every bottle, but the feedback I received from the clients who used them kept me from throwing in the towel.
I had been introduced to a distributor, and had Healingscents products in health-food stores, gift shops & alternative bookstores. The blends I created were incredibly well received. In fact, to this day, my first five Hydrating Body Oils—Awaken, Erotica, Mend, Unwind and Wellness—still sell well, with clients continuing to come back again and again. I also developed moisturizing facial oil out of respect for my own personal desire to avoid the toxins found in commercial products . . . This too took off and is still a bestseller today.
Why This Direction?
The world of plants and essential oils is so vast and the wealth of knowledge just keeps growing. This is what truly lights my fire. This is what compels me to create the blends I do.
Throughout this exhausting journey of study and throwing myself out there to spread the word on oils, I often pondered these questions:
Why essential oils?
What about them is so special?
Why have they drawn me in so completely?
The answer is simple.
I like the way essential oils make me feel.
As I work year after year with individuals and wholesale clients, I’ve come to realize that this is enough. Time and experience have shown me just how much this means and in how many ways it can be manifested:
When working with a devastated mother who feels unable to move forward after losing her new baby, I’m able to support her physically and emotionally with specific oils that help to lift her out of her postnatal distress and terrible grief . . .
When supporting a young father dying of inoperable cancer, my essential-oil blends alleviate his symptoms—so much so that he carries them with him for the remainder of his days—while other blends allow his traumatized wife and children some measure of relief . . .
When a young woman comes to me for help because she is so crippled by extreme anxiety and PMS that she can’t move forward with her life’s goals, aromatherapy channels her energies toward strength and calmness . . .
These are just a very few examples of the differences essential oils can make in how we feel. . .
Does it need to be more complicated that that?
I love being able to make a blend that sparks something in someone . . . whether this is healing or bringing them to the place they are longing to be, whether it helps them connect to themselves on a deeper level, or simply makes their headache or stomach pain go away.
A woman recently contacted me who has been using one of our newest blends for Allergies. She told me that she has severe reactions to synthetic fragrance and air born allergens. After trying so many products from other companies she has found that ours is the most effective one that she’s tried.
The bottom line is that when people feel better within themselves, they tend to treat others with more love and compassion. My belief in aromatherapy, my passion for this healing art, circles back to where we are as a society right now. This is a tumultuous time . . . we all need to love a little more, feel a little more, empathize a little more. Through essential oils, plants and flowers generously give us their life essence so that we can restore each other and ourselves.
Reaching My Destination!
I love it when I have a group of women at my booth at a trade show and hear them reading the names of my blends and saying “Oh, I need some of that in my life!”
It was a landmark experience for me in 1997 to register my new company; now the year 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Healingscents, and my 22nd year working with essential oils. I have been avidly pursuing the art of essential oils for more than half my life. And, while aromatherapy has exploded as an industry in recent years, my interest in it began long before essential oils became mainstream. To get to where I am today, I had to overcome a lot of obstacles. I’m very proud of the journey I have taken and milestones I have achieved.
Certification and Qualifications
Completing my Diploma in Aromatherapy with honours at the West Coast School of Aromatherapy, I graduated as a Certified Clinical Aromatherapist. I have continued to strengthen my skills with qualifications in Aromatherapy Massage, additional Certificates in Aromatherapy from Scents of Comfort and Honours in Functional Anatomy from The Sunshine Coast School of Health Sciences.
Healingscents Lab in Gibsons, BC
Ongoing Commitment to Knowledge
Since the beginning, I have remained steadfastly dedicated to learning and sharing knowledge with others. Attending health and wellness conferences – Such as the Vancouver Health & Wellness Show and Botanica in Brighton, England, connecting with peers and mentors, and reaching out by participating in events that embrace artisans—such as One of a Kind and Make It the Handmade Revolution in Vancouver and Edmonton—as well as small local shows which help me stay connected to my community on the Sunshine Coast. These experiences continue to broaden and enrich my perspective.
Continuing Pursuit of Quality
To this day, all my products are hand-blended, plant-based and cruelty-free. I continue to honour my original commitment to diligence in sourcing the highest-quality essential oils I can find. This, to me, means buying certified-organic, Non sprayed or Wild Harvest wherever possible from growers and distillers who are deeply dedicated to the cultivation of aromatic plants. All our oils are ethically and sustainably farmed.
Sourcing the purest and most energetic oils means knowing exactly where they come from. As a member in a select distiller’s group, I invest time and resources to know who is growing the plants and flowers that provide the essence of my healing scents. This means higher shipping costs as I reach out to locations like South Africa, India and Bulgaria, along with co-ops located in the remote regions of Indonesia, for pristine, unsprayed oils.
Throughout my 20-year quest to create the most effective and healing synergistic blends of essential oils, my belief in the value of finding the purest ingredients has never wavered. I remain dedicated to supporting these hardworking organic farmers. I believe they deserve the utmost respect for their wisdom and for the time and dedication they commit to growing medicinal plants and mastering the intricate art of distillation.
The Expertise of a Top Chemist
I’m proud to work with a top Chemist in Cosmetic Formulation. Receiving his BSc in Chemistry from the University of Montreal in 1984, Yves has more than 25 years of experience in the pharmaceutical and cosmetic industries, as part of management teams in quality control, purchasing, production, regulatory issues and R&D. He has worked for Chanel, Henkel, Du-Var Laboratory, Marcelle Cosmetics and Burlington Toiletries International, among other highly respected companies.
As part of the Healingscents team, our chemist has advised us through the process of purchasing high-level laboratory equipment for our lotion production and advised us in the cutting edge ingredient complexes found in our line of Organic Hydration Oils and best selling Restorative Facial Oil.
Expanding Product Lines
My Chemist and I have continued to extensively develop new blends of the finest organic oils—for individual clients, massage therapists and aromatherapists. As Healingscents continues to broaden its product base, we are also excited to be providing more blends to other health-care professionals including RN’s, teachers and psychotherapists for their use in support of patients!
Today, Healingscents offers an extensive line of products for topical application, and Synergy Blends and Single Note Essential Oils for inhalation and diffusion.
Roll On Therapy: Made with certified-organic jojoba oil and therapeutic organic essential oils, our aromatherapy roll-on bottles are a safe and easy way to ease common ailments such as headaches, nausea, muscular aches & pains, PMS among many others.
Synergy Blends: When essential oils are blended together, the resulting “synergy” is more beneficial than the sum of the characteristics of each individual oil, with the result being a complete sensory experience for body and mind.
Beautiful Face & Healthy Body: Blended carefully for anti-aging, healing and deep-moisturizing properties, these skin-nourishing products are made with Ecocert-approved certified-organic herbal and floral infusions and organic therapeutic-grade essential oils.
Healthy Home:Natural refreshing room sprays enhance the atmosphere wherever they are spritzed—in the car, over linens, or on furniture to remove odours.
All of our ingredients are free from chemicals and synthetic fillers. We believe that healthy-breathing skin means healthy organs and a healthy body!
Healingscents now carries more than 80 unadulterated, Certified Organic, Non Sprayed or Wild Harvested essential oils. Each one is vibrant with its own personality and scent. I do not recommend oils for internal use at this time, although I am planning to take advanced training in Aromatic Medicine in 2018.
We’ve included the highest-quality cold-pressed carrier oils in our product line, along with thoughtful, minimally packaged gifts for body and soul, and diffusers, body brushes and other accessories to complement the aromatherapy, skin and body-care lines.
Healingscents uses only simple, reusable or recyclable packaging and containers, along with 100-percent post-consumer paper for printed materials.
Distribution Across Canada
healingscents.net has been invaluable in spreading the word on all these products, with free shipping across Canada for online sales over $99.
Web customers can also download my complimentary eBook, Signature Essential Oils of the Zodiac, and sign up for regular educational newsletters, as well as read client feedback and my ongoing blog posts.
In addition to being online, all our products are sold directly at our Healingscents Head Office, Laboratory and Store in Gibsons, and distributed in select Health food stores, bookstores, spas and gift shops across Canada. We also have select clients in the US and in Hong Kong.
Healingscents offers wholesale packages that include a complete customer service plan with staff training, merchandising opportunities, promotional support, product information and informative workshops for customers, along with other specific services, such as customized product development and private labelling.
Publication of the Healingscents Aromatherapy Guide
In 2002, I spent a full year writing the Healingscents Aromatherapy Guide, which has proven to be invaluable to clients. Available in book form, it has been updated and is available from healingscents.net.
Relocating to the Sunshine Coast
With my emphasis on health-supporting, organic ingredients, it felt holistic to leave the big city behind in 1998 to relocate to a more pristine environment. I moved to Roberts Creek and then on to Gibsons on the Sunshine Coast of British Columbia. Here, the community’s ongoing protection of natural ecosystems echoes the philosophy of my company.
Today, the Healingscents Head Office, Laboratory and Store sits on an acre in the centre of Gibsons. We have begun planting the property with hardy organic herbs—destined to become part of our new distillation process.
Mastering the Art of Distillation
For my first 10 years, I had to hold down other jobs to build the company, but for the past decade I have relished the opportunity to focus exclusively on it. Building Healingscents was often hard and messy work, but I did it! I’m still learning, and setting new goals for myself and the company I am so proud of.
Amid this messy work, I realized I wanted to deepen my understanding of essential oils in a new way, and made the decision to learn how to distill. This is the ultimate way to connect with the plants and flowers that generously give us their life essence so that we can heal each other and ourselves. Learning to distill has been life-changing for me, sparking an entirely new passion that I am very excited about!
Much of my distilling inspiration has come from Botanica 2016, the world-renowned conference celebrating herbs and clinical aromatherapy at the University of Sussex in Brighton, England, and hosting health professionals from more than 40 countries. There is such important research being done, with so many people and animals being healed with essential oils. Sharing in all the scientific studies being conducted with such positive results validated and reaffirmed my love for oils.
While in England, My husband Brent & I participated in a two-day Master Class on Distillation in Lewes, taught by two highly-skilled artisan distillers—Ann Harman, lecturer and researcher for Circle H Institute and author of Harvest to Hydrosol, and Amanda Saurin, founder and alchemist of A.S. Apothecary. We gathered in a beautiful field of roses and calendula, and then in a restored barn picked off petals and buds. We were distilling for rose hydrosol—“Hydrosol” according to Ann Harman “ is the cellular water from the plants cells, water soluable minerals and possibly many other non-volatile components.”
There are many things that need to be taken into consideration to ensure a good-quality essential oil or hydrosol. And it always begins with the plant. It's critical to be able to identify the botanical species, for starters. There are so many different types of Lavandula (lavender), for instance, and each one has a slightly differing chemical composition. Where the plant is grown is also important—lavender from one area of Provence varies greatly from the same plant in another, for example. Quality of soil is key too—is the plant grown in an urban area or remote region? Sanitization is also crucial, along with the distillation temperature, which varies for each and every plant!
Both our Master Class instructors were adamant we stay with our still and be present with the distillation. Magic was happening and—after waiting somewhat breathlessly for a short time—it was a spectacular sight when the extracted rose hydrosol appeared right before our eyes.
While attending Botanica, my husband Brent, and I purchased a traditional copper Alembic Still. Like the professional-grade stills used by my teachers Ann and Amanda in their own laboratories, this beauty was handmade in Portugal and renowned for the quality of hydrosol it distills from botanicals. With a background in farming—growing up on a large family farm in Saskatchewan—Brent is excited about distilling some of the herbs we will be growing on the field adjoining the Healingscents head office, laboratory and store.
While in Europe, we also visited other artisan distillers in Italy and France to sop up their wisdom on this time-honoured art. One was Antonella Ziliani, who distills lavender, laurel, hyssop and helichrysum at her beautiful aromatic-plant farm in Piadena. These generous artisans shared their advice and expertise on the best ways to bring a plant’s energy to light through distillation.
The Road Forward
I feel like I have graduated into this new level of understanding on how I want to live and love and show up for myself and in the world.
Today, as in those first tough, profit-less 10 years, I am unequivocally committed to preserving the integrity of aromatherapy as an industry, as opposed to pushing products for over-use to make a quick buck. In short, I want to be able to sleep at night, knowing I have offered the best advice possible to anyone asking me for help. I plan to expand my services to offer aromatherapy classes and more private consultation sometime within the next year or two.
All of us at Healingscents remain clearly focused on the safest, most selective use of highest-quality oils. Our mandate is always proper education before sales. On a retail, wholesale or private-practice level, I believe in putting in time to get to know each client’s needs and closely consider what oils are best suited for their temperament and situation, rather than simply suggesting a multitude of oils. This requires more time on my part—and less expense for my client—and will always be at the core of my professional code of honour.