May the ancient wisdom of nature benefit our daily life through aroma. Ms. Eva Li, Founder of “Aromuseum” shares with us how aromatherapy breaks the shackles of the past and serves the needs of modern people
My interest in aromatherapy was first aroused when I was still a student in university back in 2003. However, at that time, there was only one institution to teach aromatherapy in mainland China, and there were few books on aromatherapy and little information I could find online. My classmates who majored in aromatherapy have gradually left the industry during the past 10 years. Some of them established their own aromatherapy brands and some opened their own studios, yet only a very few survive now. The domestic essential oil market has long been dominated by several commercialized essential oil brands.
I didn’t have the courage and confidence to start my own aromatherapy business until 2016. Before that, I just waited on the sidelines and saw how the industry proceeded. I tried to enrich my expertise through voracious learning. I was happy to see that some aromatherapy training centers were able to continue developing. Small-scale as they are, due to scarcity of market competition and the enthusiasm of essential oil lovers, they were able to survive and develop.
In 2015, I sensed changes in the market. Many new brands and institutions entered the industry via different angles. Moreover, an increasing number of ordinary health-conscious consumers began to purchase and use essential oil. Natural products attracted more and more young customers. Therefore, in 2016, when my second child had been weaned, I decisively entered the aromatherapy industry, something I had dreamt of doing for more than a decade.
I then started my own business of aromatherapy SPA. The result was good. In addition to the endeavors of the team, one big reason for our success was that the market was ready. Earlier, when my schoolmates opened aromatherapy studios, the market hadn’t yet been ready and very few customers knew of or were interested in aromatherapy. I opened my first aromatherapy SPA in 2016, and by 2019, I had opened five in total.
Though our SPA are small in size and more of the studio style, we develop very quickly and won much customer recognition. It means that Chinese customers, especially young people, are more and more willing to embrace aromatherapy. In such a positive market situation, it then is up to the people who run the business. However, I find many spa personnel are not sufficiently trained and not stable. As a result, it is still hard to promote aromatherapy to a wider population in a short time. Meanwhile, it costs a lot to take aromatherapy courses or get trained.
Then I carried out a business transition. I passed over my SPA business to a partner and established “Aromuseum” in June, 2019. In order to promote the knowledge and benefits of aromatherapy and essential oil more quickly and widely, I immediately decided to resort to the internet. In my view, China’s essential oil industry is still at an initial stage of development.
After the business transition, I set up an education and training sector. On one hand, I mean to create a learning platform for enterprises and ordinary people alike. Meanwhile, it is my vision to train a group of professional personnel who can be the pillars in the future of aromatherapy spas, and thus benefit the industry in the long run.
Innovative online platform
We have built an online aroma platform “Aromuseum”. It’s an APP that integrates “aroma education”, “aroma products” and “aroma stores list” and gives people direct access to the industry.
Now people spend a lot time on mobile phones. We once asked people to stay away from electronic products and go into nature as more as possible. We don’t mean to contradict that. But everyone knows if we are away from electronic products, we are away from the whole world, which means the end of our business. The coronavirus outbreak, in particular, makes us more than ever before realize the importance of online business and the role of the internet.
Therefore, we bring the original “niche” things like aromatherapy, essential oil and flavor blending to the public via mobile phones. On our APP, there are many videos, courses and aroma products for daily use. With this social e-commerce mode, we keep aroma industry in pace with the newest business model of the time. It is our company’s vision to “integrate new thinking, new techniques and new modes to the ancient wisdom of nature”.
We also want to utilize the platform to support people who are willing to promote the aroma industry. We call them “Aroma Ambassadors”. We encourage them to actively introduce the platform and products to their friends when learning aromatherapy knowledge and using the products themselves. We will accordingly give them incentives. Everyone has the chance to become our “Aroma Ambassador” and enhance their aroma knowledge, social circles and income during the process.
It is the age of crowd innovation. Aroma is a beautiful lifestyle worthy to be promoted to more people. I believe “Aromuseum” conforms to the developing direction of the industry and of the age. Now we have nearly a thousand “Aroma Ambassadors” nationwide. I hope more people can join and promote aroma together with us.
Break the old shackles of the industry
Traditionally, aroma education is not so accessible to the public. Synthetic fragrance and perfume are often rejected by industry people. On these two points, we boldly make breakthroughs.
In terms of education accessibility, we introduce high quality courses from both home and abroad. We record all the knowledge part, do translations and price them affordably to the public. We charge only 1,000 yuan for more than a hundred professional courses, forming a big contrast to the existing 3 or 5-day offline courses in the market which sell for more than 10,000 yuan yet with very limited content. Many industry people who do education blame us for disturbing the market order.
However, I want to say that education accessibility is a key for every business that wants to develop quickly in China. The courses we offer are quite comprehensive for ordinary people to know more about the aroma world. Of course, it is another thing if one wants to do aroma business. Then they need to carry out deep study in certified institutions and get international qualifications before starting the business. We will continue to introduce more affordable and even free courses. This is the main focus for our education sector in 2020.
We also break the restrictions with regard to synthetic fragrance and perfume. In the past, aroma therapists solely focused on functions. Then while blending the essential oil, they often sacrifice the fragrance for functions. However, as far as I am concerned, the beauty of aromatherapy largely lies at the pleasure brought by the fragrance. When I learned aroma blending in Grasse, I found this town originally rich in essential oil is now globally famous for the perfume industry which sees a common usage of synthetic fragrance ingredients.
Why don’t we break the old bias against perfume? If so, our horizons and perceptions will be continually expanded.
In fact, essential oil itself is a necessary natural fragrance for blending high quality perfume. Meanwhile, synthetic fragrance ingredients also vary a lot in their quality. Some of them are from nature and even much more expensive than essential oil. Moreover, ordinary people show greater interest and demand to and possess more knowledge of perfume or even fragrance than essential oil. Very often, people first enter the perfume world before coming to know and purchase essential oil.
Since I was invited to introduce the vehicle-mounted fragrance system for the Greater China agency and sales of Mercedes-Benz, I have been convinced of the necessity of promoting aromatherapy through the approaches of introducing perfume, aroma blending and fragrance. In the process, I would further tell the difference of natural plant ingredients and synthetic fragrance ingredients and thus achieve my goal of popularizing aromatherapy and essential oil. It proves to be effective.
The five senses play an important role in our daily lives which influence our every thought. Among the five senses, smell might be the most amazing one yet the most easily neglected. It is directly related to the limbic system of our brain. Every fragrance is able to exert some influence on our mood. So the whole education system of “Aromuseum” proceeds around “smell”.
The world is developing quickly. We need to both keep the essence of tradition and stay in tune with the time. I sincerely hope that aromatherapy can inherit the treasure of the tradition, and at the same time make more people live happily and healthily through innovative approaches.