OUR (full) STORY
Hello there, and welcome to Ampersand Essentials! This is Michelle talking; I'd love to share our story of our vision and opening with you!
While the company was officially registered in 2020, our real story begins a few years back with a conversation I'll never forget.
I had just moved to Florida after graduating college with my degree in Electrical Engineering and I had some big aspirations for my life. I was prepared to work hard to make my dreams a reality, and starting what I thought was my dream job was the perfect place to start!
However, it didn't work out that way. I soon figured out that what I thought I wanted to do for the rest of my life was, indeed, not what I imagined. I was getting married the year after I moved, so I thought "hey, what's the hurt in moving back home?"
As soon as I moved back to Columbus, Ohio, I knew it was where I needed to be, but I still wasn't sure what I wanted to do as a career.
I was speaking with my good friend Alaina (who is actually our Social Interactions Manager here!) who was really into essential oils at the time. She loved sharing about them and diving more into this "all-natural living" lifestyle, and while I was intrigued, I knew to start it was going to be expensive.
If I'm being honest with you, friend, that was the main reason all-natural living deterred me from actually beginning my journey. Now, looking back, I wish I had done it sooner, and had gone "all in" when I had the chance.
WHEN HEALTHY ISN'T SO HEALTHY
After I got married to my amazing husband Joe, I started the conversation with him about moving more towards a toxin-free lifestyle. He was definitely hesitant at first, especially since a lot of products you can buy out there that are marketed as "toxin free" are incredibly expensive. Nevertheless, we slowly started making the switch and it was really exciting!
That was, until I learned that a lot of the "healthy" products I was using... really weren't so healthy. That's where Alaina comes into the picture.
We were talking about next steps in toxin free living, and she had mentioned diffusing essential oils. I wasn't sure about what to think because at the time, she was with a company that had very high-priced starter kits that I was pretty sure I couldn't afford. However, they did offer a basic starter kit bundle which was cheaper, so I convinced Joe to let me jump in that way.
Friends, let me tell you something. By going with the "cheap" route, I ended up spending THOUSANDS of dollars more than I needed to. To clarify, I'm not going to advocate for you to spend all this extra money if you aren't sure if you want to "make the switch". But at the same time, sometimes it really is worth it because you have all your resources at your fingertips, instead of trying to sift through all the information yourself later down the road.
As I began my journey and joined a community of people who were like-minded in chemical free living, I learned so much about what this lifestyle looked like in the every day. I learned that it really was just that simple to make your own foaming hand soap, purchase cleaner shampoos and conditioners, and to choose bar soap brands that aren't filled with synthetic ingredients.
The more I learned, the deeper I wanted to go into the field. I was in this community for about three years and it was great.
Until it wasn't.
I had a hunger to learn more about essential oils and the science, history, and clinical studies behind them. I wanted to further my knowledge, but I wasn't getting it from my community. Everything started to seem very surface level, and was more about recruitment than it was about actually learning how to use essential oils.
That's when my mind started to shift. Where else could I go to learn more about these incredible bottles of magical plant juice? Just kidding, just kidding... but seriously!
I started to do some research and learned that becoming an Aromatherapist really was a career in this field, and you could actually make a living doing it! Unfortunately though, it meant going back to school, and that was an undertaking in and of itself.
I'll be real with you: I prayed and asked the advice of friends and family a lot. I wanted to make sure this was a good venture for me because, if I'm gonna get real vulnerable with y'all, I definitely invested in some ventures that did not work out for me. I didn't want to waste my time, and especially since this required extensive schooling, I knew I needed to actually take the time to see if it was right for me.
The more I researched, the more I learned about the Aromatherapy industry. I learned that it is mainly governed by the National Association for Holistic Aromatherapy (NAHA), and they managed all of the Certifications required to call yourself a Certified Aromatherapist®. I learned that they accredit schools similarly to the way ABET accreditation works with engineering schools, which really encouraged me.
Through their website I found The School for Aromatic Studies. They offer a completely free 12-credit hour course that introduces you to the field of Aromatherapy, so I thought it would be a good place to start to see if this was really what I wanted to do.
Friends, let me tell you something: this little course completely changed my life. About half way through, I realized this was exactly what I was meant to be doing. I was still working as an engineer at the time (and actually still am!), but I knew it'd never be enough. Soon afterwards, I finished my introduction class and enrolled in a full-term 125 credit hour program to become a Level 1 Certified Aromatherapist.
About one year later, I graduated from The School for Aromatic Studies with a Certification in French Aromatherapy (you can see my diploma here!). Realizing that this was what I was meant to do helped me learn about how to grow my education and serve others in a capacity that would challenge me, yet would be something I would thoroughly enjoy.
And that's when 2020 hit. Enter the Coronavirus.
THE START OF OUR COMPANY
I was 30 weeks pregnant at the time when I enrolled in my program, and right around that time, I was furloughed from my job. Experiencing, for lack of better phrase, a "mid-life crisis" at the age of 26 wasn't exactly fun!
In October 2020 I finally took the plunge and opened Ampersand Essentials Aromatherapy LLC. I wanted to have a multi-faceted company that would serve a large demographic in a variety of ways!
As soon as I opened our LLC, requests started flooding in for gifts for friends and family. People had heard I had started going back to school to become a Certified Aromatherapist, so when I opened this business, they knew I was serious. It wasn't long before my evenings started filling up with fulfilling orders!
Christmas 2020 came, and with it, the popularity of buying local. It was the perfect time to open a small business because everyone wanted to support it! As sales grew, I knew I needed help with marketing and advertising, so that's when I added our marketing team, who you can meet on our "Team" page!
It's been a long road, but I am more than thankful for creating this little small business. Thank you so much for being willing to support my dream, and I hope you can find something you truly enjoy from us!