Following on from last week’s introductory blog post informing you of upcoming interviews with professional aromatherapists, I am very pleased to be able to introduce you this week to Penny Price of Penny Price Aromatherapy who took time out of her very busy schedule to answer my questions! I completed my initial aromatherapy training with the Penny Price Aromatherapy Group in the UK in 2005/2006 and have recently just completed some advanced training too.
Penny Price is one of the leading names in the aromatherapy world and has a reputation for quality aromatherapy training and aromatherapy products. However, although I knew some of Penny Price’s background in aromatherapy, I was very interested to learn some of the things Penny had to say in this interview with me, as I am sure you will be too! Enjoy!
AN: First of all, thank you Penny, for taking the time to answer a few questions about your aromatherapy business. Aromatherapy has been a big part of your life! Indeed, I think I heard you describe it as your “passion” in a recent interview 🙂 So, I wanted to ask you a few questions in order to let my readers know a bit more about you.
You came from an aromatherapy background, so what are some of the first memories you have of aromatherapy growing up?
PP: I can remember my mum going on lots of courses and my dad learning how to cook! She trained first with Eve Taylor and Micheline Arcier, but at that time the courses were only a weekend long and you learned to use ready mixed blends and a massage. Mum decided this was not enough for her and so she found that there was a course that taught ‘proper’ aromatherapy, in France! Not deterred, mum went to France to learn the language, staying with friends and eventually went on the courses and became an aromatherapist that could blend for herself. I remember when the business first started, mum made the creams and potions in the Kenwood Chef, I piped the mixtures into jars and bottles, my brother Matthew had to clean the rims and put the lids on and my dad hand-drew every single label and applied them. This was good when it was one night a week after school, but soon it was 2 nights, then 3 then my brother and I went on strike and they started to hire staff!
AN: You officially trained in aromatherapy in 1983 and began teaching in 1986. In 2003, you started the Penny Price Aromatherapy business. I think I know the answer to this one, but what inspired you to start your own business?
PP: My mother had always said that her business, Shirley Price Aromatherapy would be mine one day, but it didn’t work out like that. With falling investments on the money market, my parents sold the business when they retired and I carried on working for the new guys. I hated it. I left after a couple of years and did a Masters Degree. I went to work for the local YMCA using aromatherapy with disaffected youngsters (part of my research for the degree) for some time. After a while, my husband could see I was not that happy at work so he suggested that I go back into the love of my life job, aromatherapy. I decided then that the only way that would work would be if I had my own business.
AN: Which leads me onto the next question: tell us a little bit about the creation of Penny Price Aromatherapy and what the company offers in terms of aromatherapy products and training.
PP: I started with one member of staff in the outbuildings of my mother’s home – the stable block in fact! After thinking about products and visiting my suppliers in France I set about choosing bottles, jars, labels etc. – my brother did all the artwork and logos. I then started writing the IFPA aromatherapy course, Anantomy and Physiology Courses and also some CPD – that kept me busy for a while. I was starting work at 6am until 7am when the children got up, then working 9-5 at work and then working from 8-12 when the kids were in bed – I now wear glasses!!
PPA now offers a range of products that are organic, natural and hand-blended. I believe in recycling so all the packaging is degradable. I love my skin care the best, it really is good! The courses have changed and developed over the years to reflect complimentary therapy in general rather than just aromatherapy, but aromatherapy is still my passion and all I teach.
AN: What do you enjoy most about teaching aromatherapy?
PP: Did you need to ask – chemistry of course! The most thrilling element of aromatherapy is understanding the chemical components and how they work; finding pharmacological answers to physical and psychological conditions! Amazing. I also love to teach the intensive uses of oils for conditions that are ‘yukky’ like bedsores, ulcerations, MRSA infections etc. Teaching gives me a huge buzz – there is nothing better than to impart information and to learn from your students at the same time.
AN: What qualities do you think an aromatherapist should have in addition to aromatherapy training?
PP: Chemistry and intensive uses of oils – these subjects change you from being just and an aromatherapist to being a person who can bring about real changes and who can offer a realistic alternative to conventional medicine for real problems.
AN: Perhaps something a lot of people don’t realize is that you actually have a farm in France from which you use the plant material to distill many of your essential oils. Why is this important to the business, with regard to “organic”?
PP: The Farm was bought by my parents in the ‘80s and is in the heart of the Drome Valley, top end of Provence. We are surrounded by small farming co-operatives who grow the plants we need for the essential oils. There is a lot of high – tech equipment in the area for distillation and extraction of vegetable oils that the co-ops tend to use, although hydrolats are still made in the old-fashioned and traditional stills. We have now got to the stage where if a plant is grown in China, I import it to France where I know I can trust the distillers not to adulterate the oil. This works well for me and we respect and value the relationship we have with our distillers enormously. Organic is important for me – if you want your clients to get better, you have to give them the best opportunity by using the most medicinal of oils that are not adulterated in any way.
AN: Do you think that the health profession in the UK is “accepting” aromatherapy more now as viable treatment option for health problems?
PP: The acceptance of aromatherapy in the UK is not as good as it appears from outside the UK. We still have to struggle to be recognized, although some trusts are very keen to use it. We find that it is usually Hospices that take oils and train their staff to use aromatherapy for palliative care. There are one or two hospitals that do use it for more serious things.
AN: Do you have any other advice for those considering a career in aromatherapy?
PP: Yes – do proper training! Going to a state school will usually give you minimum requirements to practice. My advice is to find a good school through reputation, meet the teachers, see the school and go from there. You really need to trust your teachers to give you all they can and to keep on your tail for homework!
AN: Finally, where can people go to find out more about Penny Price Aromatherapy?
PP: Yes we are on face book as Penny Price Aromatherapy. We also have a page and a group.
Our own website is www.penny-price.com
We are not a remote company so we welcome views and questions via email or Facebook.
AN: Penny, thank you so much for your time! I think this interview has given me some motivation and inspiration to continue working towards my dreams of aromatherapy business development here in the United States. I hope it has helped my readers too! 🙂
More interviews with professional aromatherapists to come over the following weeks! 🙂