It’s Always Darkest Before The Dawn………But Finally Seeing The Light Is Dazzling!
Sunrise over Andalucia, I took the picture above at dawn last October, whilst on an amazing yoga retreat. It marked the start of my journey back to Gli Oli and ultimately, to myself.
I created Gli Oli as a home fragrance brand in 2014, back then I was bursting with enthusiasm, buzzing with ideas and with hindsight, full of naivety about how difficult it is to create, launch and sustain a new business on your own, with limited resources.
As a Neals Yard Remedies-trained professional aromatherapist, I only blended with therapeutic grade essential oils, using the principles of aromatherapy to create products that delivered on a therapeutic as well as an olfactory level. Nothing was tested on animals, we only used soy wax, all our packaging was hand-made here in England and was of course, recyclable.
Our commitment to our values meant that even when we were deciding which kind of reeds to use in our diffusers, we decided to do it the hard way; instead of buying in the usual synthetic reeds, which went against our principles, we chose to use natural rattan. When we started, this involved buying our rattan in coils, soaking it in a bath and then cutting to length while it was still pliable. Once cut and dried, we then hand-dyed the reeds to our signature purple colour with a vegetable based dye - our reeds really are a labour of love!
Five years on we’re still here, whilst that’s a source of satisfaction for me, I’d be lying if I said we had done anything more than barely tick over during those 5 years.and for much of that time I was so disillusioned and disheartened I barely thought about Gli Oli from one month to the next.
I knew that I had created amazing products, everyone who bought/smelt/experienced them gave us genuinely positive feedback; we were stocked by retailers and by carefully curated online stores as well as our own website, despite this sales were very hard to come by. We had some success but nowhere near enough to sustain us, we had bills and a mortgage to pay, so very reluctantly we had to return to full-time employment.
This decision was hugely demoralising, I’d poured my soul into the business, we had created Gli Oli from scratch. I created all the fragrance blends, starting with pen and paper, long before we ever made a candle. We even created the branding ourselves - our four petal logo is actually something that I have doodled since I was a child, I drew it freehand one day when John and I were brainstorming ideas, he loved it and it felt right, so our logo was born.
We created a brand, one that delivered, both in terms of product quality and appeal but which wasn’t translating into the sales we had hoped for. This was our baby, my passion and having to put it all on the back burner and return to commuting and working for someone else again was so dispiriting.
Returning to work in the corporate world was incredibly difficult, it was hard to go back to being an employee, with all the usual stresses and pressures, but worse than that, I only truly realised how stifling working in an office environment was for me, having had that period of freedom - both creatively and professionally.
We continued to sell a few products but, massively demotivated, I put little or no effort into the business. I gave up blending and product testing, I was so disillusioned about the business that I was almost embarrassed to discuss it or our products with anyone. Gil Oli became a room in my house that I rarely ventured into, either mentally or physically.
Three years on, my journey to this point has been a difficult but ultimately life-affirming one. I spent the intervening years finding a way back to “me”. With a lot of help and a healthy dose of introspection, I have come to realise that far from creating a brand and hiding behind it, in order for it to succeed I have to stand in front of it, because the brand is me, I created it and I should be proud of it, not embarrassed by it.
I’m working hard, my enthusiasm is back, I have been blending new home fragrances to be launched soon, but more excitingly I have started to create skincare products - my real passion.
I have been testing these myself for a few months and finally I have taken the plunge and given the first products to a select group of clients/customers to test and report back. Initial feedback has been really positive and I can’t wait to tell you more about it.
This long journey back to myself/my brand has taught me one thing above all others - be true to yourself - your values, your vision, your brand and your products. Never be embarrassed by what you have created, celebrate it and yourself, don’t hide behind it.
Comparison with others is pointless - both personally and professionally - don’t over-analyse others’ success, no matter how unfathomable you find it, concentrate on you and what you are doing; just be yourself, but most importantly, be the best “you” you can be.