In a quiet room at her Karaka Bay home, Gillian Parkinson blends lavender, bergamot and sweet marjoram essential oils into a soothing blend someone who has insomnia can rub into the soles of their feet before bed to rest easy.
Clients come to her Wellington business L'Esscience for massage treatments, dermatitis relief oils for their children or a clary sage blend to calm the pains of childbirth.
But her work was not always so centred on relaxation and natural remedies. "I was a marketing executive for 17 years, specialising in relationship, branding and digital marketing, but for 20 years plus I was passionate about essential oils and using them for complementary health treatments," Parkinson says.
In 2009, after an employment dispute that was the catalyst for launching a career change, she decided to retrain through the NZQA-certified Aromaflex Academy in Nelson.
The course, which she completed part-time in six months faster than the typical duration, taught her about the properties of essential oils and the art of blending them for cosmetics and personalised treatments.
"I'm not an aromatherapist, I'm an aromatologist. Massage is part of my business but I specialise in the use of essential oils for complementary health to help stress, anxiety, depression, pregnancy."
Her marketing experience helped her to promote her services and private practice online through social media such as Facebook and Twitter.
The softly-spoken mother of three's TINKture remedy, launched two years ago for freshly inked tattoos, is now sought after the world over with online orders and is stocked in tattoo studios across New Zealand, Australia and the UK.
Parkinson keeps a dedicated private room set up because not renting a separate space means she can keep costs down. Her favourite part of the work, which takes about 40 hours a week, is helping people. "I love what I'm doing now."
WHAT YOU NEED
Gillian Parkinson's advice to aspiring aromatologists: You need a passion for and belief in the benefits of essential oils. If you have the right environment, you can set up private practice at home in a small room with enough space for a massage table and a bathroom clients can use. Alternatively, you could join other natural therapy rooms already set up.
Do you feel better off than at this time last year?