Thursday, 6 February 2014

About Sp

Image of a young boy looking out onto a sunflower field
To look on nature with a little knowledge, wonder, curiosity and understanding is to lose our fear of natural things

New? The Shirley Price A-Z

Tell us a little about the story behind your business? The Shirley Price Aromatherapy business and college has existed in its present form since 1974. A lot of people have contributed to the success of the business as staff, distributors, tutors and of course customers but its founders Shirley and Len Price and their children Penny and Matthew stand out. Shirley Price was recognised by the Alliance of International Aromatherapists with a lifetime achievement award and to be updating new editions of your international bestselling books in your 80s is no mean achievement.

At the heart of our business is the factory shop where the essential oils are displayed and the training room where we hold our quarterly diploma classes and workshops. Beyond that is the general office, the clean rooms where we handle the oils and the warehouse where we store the oils and the oils in their little bottles ready for picking. Some 6000 people have passed through our training business and many have gone on to found their own business and colleges which we serve.  We go out to exhibitions and hospitals giving talks on the oils and helping people look on nature with knowledge not fear.

What do you think sparked your passion for aromatherapy and essential oils? I have always had an interest in agriculture and the land and had a country upbringing in Warwickshire England. My mother had a great interest in natural things and animals while my father was a director of an international tractor company who took us all over the world. I can combine both their interests and abilities in running Shirley Price Aromatherapy as well as my own. I love science, writing and education so naturally the teaching of the chemistry and business studies falls to me.  Personally I first came across essential oils while on a farm in Argentina. A Shirley Price trained therapist got out the muscles mix and I encountered as my first aromatherapy treatment the near miraculous relaxing effect of Rosemary on knotted smooth muscle of the back. When I got back to the UK my staff told me we had a new client, Shirley Price Aromatherapy. It turned out the factory was 200 yards from my offices. I went as a temporary MD and it was one of those jobs where I just seemed to know things.

What do you wish you'd known when you started your business? The importance of good communication at all times. Like a lot of people I tend to get wrapped up in what seems important at the time but as a business owner you have to keep all the plates spinning. I am also a spiritual person so its all too easy to dip out of the world such that people think you are ignoring them when you really are not!. So many people in this business experience aroma enthusiasm and I am no exception. I love talking to our customers and hearing about a new treatment in the shop. The essential oils are in my mind from when I wake up and when I go to sleep and its great to wake up with new ideas to share with our aroma community. Aromatherapy is a vast area with over 1000 products in the Shirley Price catalog sold through distributors in 40 countries. Focus too is important. I try to focus on an oil or aromatherapy product a day with the Shirley Price Aromatherapy staff.

What do you feel is the most challenging part of your job? Fortunately I am quite organised and manage the business through a succession of spreadsheet databases which we use to update our online catalogs. Being an accountant by training is helpful for sticking to all the numbers work that is at the heart of every business. Keeping those databases upto date with analysis of each batch of oil, customer details and the like really is hard work. Fortunately I have a great staff who love the business as much as I do. So the most challenging part is definitely the business aspects. Its all too tempting to just research another aromatherapy article or talk. Teaching groups of nurses has always been an important part of our mission and its always tempting to research another area and get fresh insights for them.

What changes/advancement would you love to see in the world of Aromatherapy in 5 years? Aromatherapy is going through something of a purple patch if you’ll forgive the phrase and continues to maintain the trust and confidence of the public. There is responsible marketing of essential oils and great training is available with inspirational tutors and professional dialogue. Aromatherapy is well served with leading lights like Valerie Worwood, the French and Belgians, Rhiannon Lewis, Gabriel Mojay, Robert Tisserand and Shirley Price, and active members of the Aromatherapy Trades Council and of IFPA, the FHT and the IFA. Supporting and maintaining these standards is the biggest challenge and initiatives like Botanica 2014 and LabAroma do that. The most important part of the job is spotting aroma trends. There are no prizes for standing still in the aromatherapy business. The emergence of mainland china in particular from isolation was a huge opportunity for us to spread the word about aromatherapy though of course asian and chinese culture via Taiwan and Japan has been an inspiration to aromatherapy. The emergence of distance learning as the number one medium for training delivery has been equally sudden and important. The delivery of that training to the same standards as can be found in the classroom is challenging but given the importance of self directed study in aromatherapy education anyway provided the assessment and examination remains in person we will continue to succeed in training people to function both as enthusiasts and as professionals who are actually capable of earning a living from aromatherapy. The universality of the English language too is a big opportunity with international students coming to the UK to learn aromatherapy and become fluent in English and join the conversation. I love going online to LinkedIn for example to pick up on a thread and make a contribution on the uses and research on the oils. It makes for much better blogposts if you have a real topic and other contributors in front of you.

Which oil do you have a soft spot for? Grapefruit is so pleasant to inhale and never disappoints.  Bergamot and Benzoin are often to be found as top and base notes.  We all like Vanilla which makes an excellent and interesting base note.  The grand florals Jasmine and Rose and their extenders Ylang and Gernaium in the heart of the blend.  Rose Otto is everyones favourite.  Lavender remains my personal favourite aromatherapy oil so versatile and with such a wide range of properties it so often forms the heart of many treatment blends or a pain relieving first step. I particularly like meeting artisanal distillers of Lavender. We at Sp have a particular relationship with a family in Tuscany Italy. They produce a beautiful lavender with a unique penetrating note when freshly distilled. The distiller Lorella who is pictured on the cover of Everyday Aromatherapy is not only a dedicated distiller but a gifted botannic artist whose art we use. In our learning we recognise the importance of innovative visual aids in anchoring aroma knowledge and maintaining a vibrant online community dedicated to sharing information.

 About us

We’re Shirley Price Aromatherapy and we’ve been training aromatherapy professionals and enthusiasts and supplying essential oils, vegetable oils and aromatherapy products since 1974. Supplied through knowledgeable distributors all over the world Shirley Price is one of the most trusted names in natural personal care. The founders Shirley Price and Len Price continue to update editions of their international best selling books.  All authentic Shirley Price Aromatherapy products bear our sp leaf, so you’ll always know when you’ve got the real thing.

A proud history
Back in 1974, Shirley Price Aromatherapy began training aromatherapists and producing its famous personal care products in Hinckley including a botanical skincare range for routine and particular care purposes. The distinctive style and success of the training came to be known as the British School combining massage with knowledgeable essential oil use as well as sensory training – the use of essential oils without massage. A unique feature of the business was its professionalism, openness and commitment to education. Shirley Price cofounded the professional aromatherapy bodies IFPA, IFA.  The ATC a body committed to responsible marketing and labelling of essential oils was also cofounded.  Shirley Price was awarded a lifetime achievement award by the Alliance of International Aromatherapists not only for this commitment to the aromatherapy profession but ground breaking research in the treatment of degenerative diseases of the brain Alzheimers and Parkinsons and much else. 

Internationally health professionals whether in the USA, Europe or Asia found they had a reliable natural option particularly for nursing care of common ailments. Enthusiasts in the home have always valued essential oils to wear as natural perfumes or use them as flavouring, family health, achieve a hygienic environment or festive atmosphere.  Now aromatherapy training and practice promised a measure of clinical results with essential oils beyond the evident relaxing or stimulating properties of essential oils. 

The sense of smell is just the tip of the iceberg of chemical communication. Researchers unlocking the secrets of the mind have confirmed the how of what has always been known that the components of essential oils have a unique ability to affect mood.  A neglected area not because of its lack of importance but because of its complexity research into the sense of smell and chemical communication has been transformed in the last decade by advances in genetics. Essential oils now have the attention of researchers and practitioners. The latest edition of Essential Oil Safety by Robert Tisserand is testimony to this with over 4000 research references.

The future
The appearance of the familiar sp leaf in books, magazines, websites, blogs and shopping websites all over the world is testament to Shirley Price Aromatherapy’s ongoing commitment to quality and education in the use of aromatic plant oils.  In 2014 Shirley Price Aromatherapy continues to innovate with ground breaking distance learning in aromatherapy and sensory training in use of essential oils for the management of mental health needs. Aromatherapy is everywhere.

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