This week Katie Service, author of The Beauty Brief, journalist and Beauty Editorial Director Harrods talks about how her love of essential oils transformed into a beautiful business.
As told to Miranda Wilkinson
I’ve always loved essential oils but it wasn’t until the start of lockdown last year that I really began to lean on them properly. It sounds cliché, but my life before Lockdown was filled with travel, excitement and adventures – I have worked for years as a beauty editor for magazines like ES Magazine, Sunday Times Style and InStyle and I went from glamorous press trips to South of France and Tokyo to being deskbound with a toddler and living back with my parents in one foul swoop. First world problems I know but landlocked, housebound and coupled with the underlying anxiety that we all felt so relentlessly in the first lockdown, I was finding showing up at my desk each day a hard task. I think I must be allergic to zoom.
I had been collecting essential oils on my travels for a few years – a peppermint from New York here and a jasmine from Marrakech there – and I took my big box of them with me to my parents’ house and started really using them. Rubbing them on the soles of my feet, sprinkling them in a morning bath and tipping them into a diffuser on my desk. I found that smelling certain oils during periods of stress, tension and inertia could help keep me from spiralling into a state of worry or procrastination. Oils like plai (from the ginger family) made me actually feel awake and motivated and ho leaf (from a tree that is has been used force centuries to make Japanese sword handles) help soften that scratch of panic each time the lockdown was extended. I even started to make my own oil blends and send them to friends in the post to help them sleep, feel more motivated to exercise, keep them smiling etc.
Once the first lockdown eased I was finding it hard to transition my essential oils into the real world – candles and room diffusers were great at home but you couldn’t take them with you and I was interested to see that rollerballs weren’t popular with everyone. So, I struck on the idea of combining an oil blend with a beautiful piece of jewellery. I scoured the web and found that you could scent pumice stone beads with essential oil blends and thread them alongside beads on a bracelet for jewellery that looks super chic but really smells amazing and actually does help manage your mood. I’m not sure I had a big bigness plan at the start but I was determined to share my creations and my oils with the world – since using them had helped me so much. I launched my estore online before Christmas and was absolutely overwhelmed by orders! I had to draft in my immediate family to help me bead overnight – I joked we had a little bead sweatshop round my kitchen table. After the Christmas rush I imagined things would die down but I have been amazed and delighted by the continuing orders.. the feedback also has been so motivating and rewarding – I have head mothers tell me that the bracelets have helped daughters get through anxiety attacks, others telling me they wear them to get to sleep and even some using them to wear their regular perfume.
I never thought I would be starting an aromatherapy jewellery brand but I am so pleased it has happened and excited to see what comes next. It was the most hopeful way to end 2020 for sure.
You can browse and buy Aroma Beads here: katieservice.co.uk
and follow on Instagram here: @katieservicebeauty