Gill Meets Geraldine Howard

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What was the inspiration that drove you to launch Aromatherapy Associates?

Seeing the incredible results that essential oils had both on the quality of the skin and on the way people felt. I was at the London College of Fashion and had the fortune of being introduced to Micheline Arcier, a former pupil of pioneer, Marguerite Maury. I went on to work alongside Micheline and almost immediately my passion was born!

I continued to see, month after month, the really quite remarkable results our clients were having from treatments and use of oils at home and – with young energy and abounding excitement – I was desperate to tell the world just how incredible they were! I met Sue (Beechey) when I worked with Micheline and we went on to set up a small treatment centre in Fulham, giving treatments and blending oils for clients (including many famous faces). Demand was so high that we had a huge waiting list for treatments and an enormous demand for oils – Aromatherapy Associates was born! To this day, I am still just as excited about what essential oils can do and am on a continuous mission to get the message out there.

Aside from essential oils, what is your passion?

Keeping fit – I am a huge fan of swimming. Not only does it keep me fit, but it’s good for my mind, too. Oh and my guilty passion is a nice bar of Green & Blacks chocolate!

What is your life philosophy?

Enjoy life, treat people well and as you would like to be treated yourself. Always be fair and try to live life with no regrets.

The past 18 months have been extraordinarily traumatic since you were diagnosed with cancer behind your eye; what helped you through?

The incredible support, love and genuine kindness I have had from so many people. It really has blown me away. My office have been truly caring all the way through – I feel very lucky to have an amazing team and I have been deeply touched by their never-ending support. I also found exercising and work helped greatly to keep me focused and able to keep enjoying life without getting depressed about it. Good company is a really great tonic.

Your latest product, Inner Strength Bath & Shower Oil was borne from seeking strength through your oils; how did you arrive at this specific formulation?

Mid way through my treatment, I hit a moment where it was just getting all a bit overwhelming and I found myself in a quite dark place, which isn’t like me at all. I thought to myself – what would I do if a client came to me in my position? I would blend them an oil, of course. So I set about blending myself a combination of oils to help boost my spirits and give me strength. I keep a box of all my essential oils at home as often work on blends in the evenings, so I went to this box and began to work on making a blend to help me feel better. I ended up with what I consider to be an unusual blend in terms of the combination of oils, but it worked for me! Frankincense to focus my mind, clary sage to uplift my mood, cardamom and rosemary to give physical strength, vetivert and camomile to help release the tension of the trauma, geranium to balance the emotions and finally Rose which I consider to be a “hug in a bottle”. It helped me enormously.

What are your hopes for Inner Strength?

I have three…

I hope that it raises awareness of the remarkable research the foundation in Holland are doing – I truly believe that it will change the way cancer is treated.

I hope that it raises funds to help the research thrive so more and more people can benefit.

I hope it helps make people realise how effective essential oils are at helping support the emotions. Going back to where I started, I will never give up on this quest!

Inner Strength aside, what is your hero product and why?

So hard to choose, but I do love our Renewing Rose Massage & Body Oil. It’s wonderfully nourishing and hugely nurturing. A true wonder product.

What are your top tips for using aromatherapy oils?

Don’t be restricted to thinking you just have to use them in the bath! Obviously this is a wonderful way of enjoying their benefits, but there are s many other ways they can be used to great effect. Apply a capful of one of our oils to the torso before stepping under the shower. Add oils to a bowl of boiling water to fragrance a room, or an electric fragrancer. Pop a few drops onto a tissue and inhale or apply to the pulse points, to enjoy the effects for hours.

How do you see the future of Aromatherapy Associates?

Continuing to develop new, innovative, results-driven products. We have some particular exciting plans in skincare for this year and next. Going through my experience with cancer has led me to be even more proactive about launching new products – it’s given me even more motivation than I had before! Am so excited about our plans.

How would you describe your legacy?

Making people realise that essential oils can help make your life better. They have the ability to get your brain in the right ‘place’ and I firmly believe that if your mind is focused and happy, everything else in life is easier.

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