Last week I interviewed Heather Thomas of Heather Scent Aromatherapy and found out more about aromatherapy in Canada, in addition to how a busy mom uses aromatherapy; so this week, in my series of interviews with professional aromatherapists, I am continuing the “busy moms” theme with an interview with professional aromatherapist Mindy MacLaren of Sweet and Woodsy Aromatherapy.
Mindy is a busy mom to twin girls – but she still found the time to both train as an aromatherapist and set up her own aromatherapy business. Mindy also uses aromatherapy with her daughters – but sometimes it is not easy juggling all of her passions! Read on to learn more 🙂
AN: First of all, thank you Mindy, for taking some time out of your busy life to answer some questions!
MM: Thank you, Sharon, for including me!
AN: Like many that get “hooked” on aromatherapy, you dabbled with essential oils for many years before taking a certified aromatherapy course. What prompted you to finally get certified in aromatherapy and pursue a career in it?
MM: I learned about aromatherapy when I was in esthetics school in 1995. I remember that day in class so clearly: the subject fascinated me! Several years later, when I heard about Aromahead Institute, I was thrilled to find out there was an actual aromatherapy school I could attend. I knew about a handful of essential oils and what they were good for, but I didn’t know why, and wanted to learn more. I wasn’t sure when I’d be able to go to Florida to take Aromahead’s Aromatherapy Certification Program (ACP), but eventually the time presented itself, so I jumped at the chance. I am so glad I did! As I think back on the impact that one lesson on essential oils had on me in 1995 and how easily aromatherapy has found its place in my life since then, I feel it makes sense that I should become an aromatherapist. I pursued a career in aromatherapy because it’s fun, it allows me to be creative and to nurture my connection with the natural world, and it is fulfilling, especially on a spiritual level. I enjoy passing my knowledge on to others as well. I’m grateful that now many of Aromahead Institute’s classes are available on-line so I can continue my aroma-education!
AN: Tell us a little bit about the creation of your aromatherapy business, the services you offer and what inspired the Sweet and Woodsy Aromatherapy business name 🙂
MM: I graduated from the ACP in November 2008, decided on a business name, had some business cards made, and then became pregnant with twins in December 2008! It wasn’t until a few months after the girls’ births that I started creating the vision I saw for my business. I now offer in-home essential oil parties where hosts invite friends to learn about aromatherapy and to enjoy making various products. These parties can have specific themes like: safe use during pregnancy and with babies, cleaning, and personal care, or can be a general introduction to aromatherapy. I also teach educational workshops, speak before local community groups, and make custom-blended products for individual or retail use. The name “Sweet & Woodsy” came about kind of on its own. I knew I wanted to two descriptive words and decided on “Sweet”. Coming up with the second word took a long time! Nothing really seemed right. Then one day, I had my huge ACP notebook open to Marjoram and as I looked up to talk to my husband I saw the word “woodsy” on the page and, that was it!
AN: One of your particular area of interests with aromatherapy is with babies and children. As a mother of twin girls, how do you incorporate aromatherapy into your own children’s lives? And how receptive are they to aromatherapy?
MM: I incorporate aromatherapy into Ava and Beatrice’s lives in several ways. All of their personal care products are made by me with either essential oils or hydrosols added to a specific carrier like unscented lotion or Castile soap. To prevent illness or to help them recover more quickly from the few colds they have had, I diffuse essential oils in their room…my two favorites are Roman Chamomile and Balsam Fir. I use hydrosols like German Chamomile in their bath to help with congestion and to induce sleep. I also make soap for use at each sink and clean my home with essential oil-based cleaning products, so they are surrounded by aromatherapy. I’ve been using these products with the girls since birth and they are very receptive to it. In fact, you can see some pictures of them enjoying a smell strip on Sweet & Woodsy’s Facebook page!
AN: I have to ask this question because I am always so in awe of mothers who manage a home business in addition to maintaining a home and family life! So, how do you manage to separate your home life from your work life – and manage both successfully?
MM: It’s hard! Some days, I feel I manage to do it all successfully and other days, I don’t. I’m lucky enough to be able to work at home and to have a very supportive husband, but because I have twin toddlers, the time I have to work is dictated by their schedules. I just do the best I can, knowing that my kids come first and treating myself compassionately when I get overwhelmed. I recently heard the term “momtrepreneur”…and I guess that’s what I am!
AN: You also help people “make the switch” to natural cleaning products with essential oils. Do you think that having young children has made you more aware of the importance of this, given how children probably “explore” more places in the home than adults?
MM: Definitely. I am very concerned, and probably a bit obsessed, with what kinds of substances Ava and Bea might be exposed to-inside and outside the home. As a culture, especially in the last decade or so, we seem to think that everything needs to be scented, and strongly. Clothing, toys, even stores are perfumed and I don’t think most people make that link between the smell and any ill-health effects. With commercial cleaning products, you get the harmful chemicals combined with the strong, synthetic fragrance, which is also unhealthy. While we’re all at risk from breathing these toxins in over time, babies and children are less able to detoxify chemicals, making them more vulnerable to the negative health impacts associated with these types of household cleaning products. Knowing that young children explore the home often at, or close to, floor level, putting objects or their hands into their mouths, makes using essential oil-based cleaning products a smart decision. There is a real peace of mind in using safe, even health-enhancing, household cleaners around my children. With the “Make the Switch” service, I hope to educate others about how important and easy it is to incorporate natural products into their homes.
AN: What do you enjoy most about your aromatherapy business: teaching or making products?
MM: I enjoy both aspects of my business. Teaching gives me the opportunity to connect with people. I also feel it’s important to teach others how to use essential oils safely, especially with babies and even animals. I do enjoy making products; it’s quiet time for me and I enjoy being with the essential oils!
AN: What qualities do you think an aromatherapist should have in addition to aromatherapy training?
MM: I think an understanding of how the body works as well as the connection between the body-mind is important. I also think good listening skills are critical if you’re working with clients. A strong reliance on your intuition combined with knowledge about essential oils can create beautiful and effective blends.
AN: Do you have any other advice for those considering a career in aromatherapy?
MM: My advice is: Do attend a certification program being aware that in this field there is always more to learn, and then, go for it! This is a wonderful career filled with opportunity and room for growth-on many levels.
AN: Finally, where can people go to learn more about your aromatherapy business?
MM: My website is www.sweetandwoodsy.com.
People can follow me on Facebook.com/Sweet & Woodsy Aromatherapy or feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
AN: Thank you Mindy! I am sure that your girls will appreciate their early introduction to aromatherapy and that it will have a wonderful influence on their lives! 🙂 Good luck with your aromatherapy business!