Aromahead Institute logo, used with permission of Andrea Butje

Last week I interviewed Penny Price of Penny Price Aromatherapy, a name which many are familiar with in the aromatherapy world.  However, over here in the United States, another name which many aromatherapy students are becoming familiar with is that of Andrea Butje of the Aromahead Institute.

Andrea Butje has been teaching courses in the therapeutic use of essential oils since 1995 and she very kindly granted me the opportunity to interview her for my series of blog posts on interviews with professional aromatherapists.  Although I have learned a lot about Andrea through web activity and communication, I was very pleased to have the opportunity to learn more about Andrea’s passion and start in the aromatherapy world, including how she came up with the name for her business 🙂 I hope that you enjoy this interview!

AN: First of all, thank you Andrea for agreeing to take some time out of your busy life to answer a few questions about your aromatherapy career!

AB: It is my pleasure and thank you for including me.

AN: What inspired your career into aromatherapy and where did you gain your aromatherapy knowledge/training? 

AB: I have been planting gardens and loving flowers for a long time. At an herbal conference in the early 1990’s, I came across a woman selling essential oils. All it took was one whiff, and I bought a few different oils. From there, I was hooked.

I brought some of the essential oils into classes at the Finger Lakes School of Massage, which I founded in 1993 with my partner, Cindy Black. The students loved the oils. I began selling a few essential oils within the massage school’s bookstore and I found myself yearning to learn more.

In 1995 I took a leave from FLSM and went to London to study at the Tisserand Institute. My studies led me to Gabriel Mojay and Bob and Rhiannon Harris. Driving through miles of lavender fields in Provence and visiting distilleries with Bob and Rhi deepened my love for essential oils and aromatherapy. This trip began my journey to many different countries to visit and work with essential oil distillers.

AN: Tell us a little bit about the creation of Aromahead and the aromatherapy courses that you offer.  

AB: I love teaching. The process of being engaged in learning has always interested me. I am dedicated to finding ways to teach all kinds of learners, to inspire deeper understanding, and to have fun while doing it! We laugh a lot in class, study hard and have a great time making products that teach the practical application of essential oils.

At first, our school offered a 200-hour certification program approved by NAHA. I taught that program several times and students began to ask for more. In addition to our 200-hour program we now offer a 400-hour Scholars Program approved by the Alliance of International Aromatherapists. We also teach (online and in-person) business courses, teacher training programs, advanced medicinal blending and chemistry classes, aromatic blending and body butter classes, and anatomy and physiology. We’ve developed a great website to offer classes online. Our online Institute is growing fast and reaches students in many different countries.

AN: What is the story behind the name, Aromahead? 🙂 

AB: The name was inspired through a funny conversation with a friend as we were brainstorming new names for our school. We wanted a name that made people smile.

AN: You successfully managed a massage school in New York state before starting your aromatherapy business. You obviously enjoy teaching others but what do enjoy most about teaching aromatherapy? 

AB: My teaching, and what I love most about it, is inspired by the plants themselves and the people who dedicate their lives to growing them. Agriculture is a demanding lifestyle, and many of the plants are grown in extremely rural areas without the conveniences of modern equipment. Every bottle of essential oil contains not only the powerful gifts of the plants, but also the labor, love and dedication of farmers who grow, harvest and distill them.

I experience the classroom as an oportunity to heal, to inspire self-confidence in the people who participate in the classes, and to offer everyhting I know about learning and creating a successful business. I love seeing people develop successful businesses and improve their quality of life with essential oils.

AN: Until recently you also owned an essential oil business, Aromatics International. Part of that business involved you visiting farmers and distillers of essential oils. Tell us a little bit about the location and the types of essential oils that some of the farmers/distillers make? Is there one particular farmer/distiller that stands out above others you have visited? 

AB: Although we sold Aromatics International to Karen Williams, I still visit distillers in different countries as I have a distiller directory that supports the distillers businesses, and on each trip I learn so much! In the past few years I have visited with distillers in Corsica, Canada, USA, France, Italy and Morocco and where oils such as Helichrysum, a wide range of Conifers, Frankincense, Opopanax and Myrrh (in the USA-from resins imported from Somaliland), Bergamot, Atlas Cedarwood and Lavender (of course) and so many more are being made.

I was deeply moved by the organic Bergamot distiller in the south of Italy (Calabria). His trees have been in his family for 3 generations and the orchids were beautiful and vibrant.

AN: You are perhaps one of the leading aromatherapy schools in the United States. Where do you see the future of aromatherapy, and the practice of essential oils, going in the United States? 

AB: Thank you for that comment on Aromahead Institute. As to the future of aromatherapy, I believe that the leading essential oil companies will test every batch of oil they buy with GC/MS technology and provide those reports on their websites. For clinical aromatherapists, this is an excellent service. The GC/MS assists the aromatherapist in deciding exactly which essential oil to buy based on the therapeutic qualities they are seeking. Seeing the chemical composition prior to purchasing gives a clearer picture of that particular essential oil.

In terms of aromatherapy training, knowing how to read GC/MS reports goes a long way toward understanding essential oils. There are so many wonderful aspects to essential oils – the aromas, the energetics, the plants themselves, the art of blending and the chemistry are but just a few. I believe that as the profession grows, the chemistry aspect will be more actively included (among these other vital aspects of the oils) in professional trainings.

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

AB: You have made an excellent choice!

AN: Finally, where can people go to find out more about Aromahead? 

Aromahead Institute: www.aromahead.com

Please visit The Aromahead Blog to learn more about about essential oils, distillers and business: www.aromahead.com/blog

I also write an educational newsletter called Essential News: http://www.aromahead.com/newsletters

Interested in importing your own oils? The International Directory of Essential Oil Distillers: www.distillerdirectory.com

Facebook: www.facebook.com/Aromatherapyeducation?ref=ts

Twitter: twitter.com/aromahead

LinkedIn: www.linkedin.com/in/aromatherapy

Aromahead Institute photos on flickr: www.flickr.com/photos/aromahead/

Aromahead Institute YouTube channel: www.youtube.com/user/TrustYourSource?feature=mhum

AN: Thank you Andrea!  You are very active on the web, so I hope to be able to continue to connect with you through that medium and look forward to your postings! 🙂  I hope to see some of my readers there too!

More interviews with professional aromatherapists to come over the following weeks!

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