Steph Janes of the Natural Therapy Company, photo used with permission
Steph Janes of the Natural Therapy Company, photo used with permission

This week’s interview with a professional aromatherapist is an interesting tale of a British trained aromatherapist now located in Italy! I intially connected with Steph Janes of the Natural Therapy Company through the Aromatherapy Notes blog and discovered that we were both British ex-pats trying to establish an aromatherapy business in, what is to us, a “foreign” environment 🙂  In addition, Steph Janes trained with Shirley Price Aromatherapy (who is the “predecessor” to Penny Price Aromatherapy) and has traveled widely, two other things we have in common.  Enjoy this inspirational interview with Steph Janes!

AN: First of all, thank you Steph for agreeing to take part in the Aromatherapy Notes blog interviews with professional aromatherapists!  What prompted you to train as a professional aromatherapist and where did you acquire your aromatherapy training?

SJ: Hi Sharon – way back in the 80’s, I was travelling in the US and in a magazine I noticed an ad for hair products using essential oils – nothing like that was available in the UK to my knowledge. With my background in Advertising and Marketing, I was intrigued and when I got back to the UK, I made enquiries – even contacted the pharmaceutical co. to see if I could become a UK distributor – all very ambitious but they of course were not interested in little me (think it was Unilever or someone!). Anyway, I ended up in Holland & Barratt’s looking for something similar and came across a little paperback book “Practical Aromatherapy” by Shirley Price and I was smitten! In the back of the book was a contact number for her training courses and I qualified with Shirley Price Aromatherapy in 1988. It was a perfect career change and allowed me to set up a successful practice in my home.

AN: I understand that you have traveled widely before settling in your current location; tell us a little bit about how a British aromatherapist has ended up living in Italy 🙂

SJ: How long have we got? All went well for a few years until I had an accident and fractured my coccyx (another story – I really shouldn’t have raced my kids down the water slide sitting in those huge rubber tyres!) which meant I had to stop giving massage treatments and my business took a back seat for a while. In 2003, my husband’s business relocated to the US – visa restrictions prevented me working so I had to become creative – I started researching natural ingredients and formulating skincare products for friends and clients with the vague idea of branding them at a later date. We eventually moved to the Bahamas – gorgeous but even more difficult to work, even though demand was high and the local GP (medical practitioner) was totally on side, it was impossible to obtain supplies: I began treating a few friends who would bring me in oils etc. on their boats from the US! After requests, I decided to write and produce an aromatherapy tuition course for beginners. Meanwhile, back in the UK, my daughter married and had a baby so we knew we couldn’t stay in the Bahamas – it was just too far away. I wanted to launch my therapy courses and take my product ideas to the next level and my husband fancied Italy, so we ended up on Lake Como and The Natural Therapy Company was born!

AN: Tell us a little bit about what your aromatherapy business offers.

SJ: My business is technically as an Aromatherapy Agony Aunt (AN: I love that phrase! 🙂 ) The Natural Therapy Company is the platform for me to provide holistic skincare products as well as guidance to those studying Aromatherapy, whether as the basis to starting a new career as a Natural Therapist or merely for pleasure. My Aromatherapy Tuition course WAKE UP TO AROMATHERAPY and GET A (natural) LIFE! is an online Certificate course giving a thorough grounding in Practical Aromatherapy. Chapters include the history of aromatherapy, essential oils and how they are obtained and work, oil profiles, carrier oils, the systems of the body and the effects of aromatherapy on them, blending techniques, aromatherapy in pregnancy, for children and in the home, an aromatic lifestyle, the therapeutic/aesthetic/psychological overlap, revision quick lists, treatments and consultation guidelines, help to set up a business, as well as remedies, recipes, hints and tips. I offer online support to my students, access to my website and Facebook pages and I have just set up a new blog to share regular Hints, Tips and Advice. I am currently working on perfecting some formulas for an exciting new project and course on Holistic Skincare.

AN: As a British aromatherapist living in the United States, I can understand some of the difficulties associated with starting a business in a country other than your home country. However, I can imagine Italy presents you with some difficulties that I don’t have to worry about, such as language! 🙂 What are some of the difficulties associated with starting an aromatherapy business in Italy.

SJ: As I am kept so busy with my online students and skincare products and research, I don’t actually intend to practice aromatherapy on the general public here in Italy. I can tell you that, language aside, medical and professional barriers present huge problems, and trying to access relevant information is incredibly difficult as everyone will tell you something different! For example, viable essential oil or aromatherapy suppliers in Italy are impossible to find through search engines – I can get supplies more easily across the border in Switzerland, but frankly, it is easier to stick with my UK suppliers. Mostly, natural health products are available in the local Farmacia (at retail prices) but certainly not as easily available as we in the UK or US/Canada are used to.

Natural Therapy Company logo, used with permission
Natural Therapy Company logo, used with permission

AN: How does the health care system in Italy regard aromatherapy?

SJ: Aromatherapy, homeopathy, and natural health all seem to be highly regarded and respected – in spite of my extensive enquiries I still cannot find out the actual legalities of practice, but as I have not applied for a license to practice as an aromatherapist, I obviously am not on the “need to know” list! Most people here eat very healthy, fresh food, with lots of fruit and vegetables – the local (farmers-type) markets thrive in every town and they sell plenty of home-made, home-grown, natural products so people are generally more open to naturopathic products in the first place.

AN: What qualities do you think an aromatherapist should have in addition to aromatherapy training?

SJ: Whether you intend practicing as a Clinical Aromatherapist or using aromatherapy to complement your vocation (such as nursing) I strongly believe that the ability to really listen to your client/patient is paramount. Obviously a calm and soothing demeanor is important, but if you can transfer sympathetic and positive energy using all the senses, including touch, you will have acquired a great skill. It also helps to be organized, keep diligent records and be able to keep sensitive information confidential.

AN: Do you have any other advice for those considering a career in aromatherapy?

SJ: Keep an eye on the outside world: don’t become a bore on the subject and risk alienating potential clients. Bear in mind you will come across many people who are “anything-natural-averse” – introduce your capabilities with subtlety to avoid their eyes glazing over! Above all, stay passionate!

AN: Finally, where can people go to learn more about you and your aromatherapy business

SJ: The Natural Therapy Company’s new website is coming soon:  www.thenaturaltherapycompany.com

and I have a new Facebook page (The Natural Therapy Company): http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/The-Natural-Therapy-Company/194671263887976

My blog is http://thenaturaltherapycompany.blogspot.com

The aromatherapy course “Wake Up To Aromatherapy and Get A (natural) Life!” is available for a limited time for 9.99 GBP (RRP 14.99 ) by contacting me on sj@thenaturaltherapycompany.com

AN: Thanks again Steph – and next time I’m in Italy, I may just stop by for some aromatherapy 🙂

SJ: Va bene! Prosecco’s on ice! Thanks, Sharon, xx

Next week, I will have another aromatherapy book review, then I am “taking a break” with a few other aromatherapy posts before getting back to some more professional aromatherapy interviews and aromatherapy book reviews!  See you then!

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