I fell in love with the immense power of essential oils in the late ‘80s. I think I borrowed every book the Nashville Public Library had on the subject. Bought every book I could find in local bookstores. (There was no Amazon then, children.)
In the early 90s, I was told that I was totally disabled and would never work again. At the same time, I discovered the World Wide Web and was fascinated by the mechanism of it. You start out here, reading about this, you click a link, and another link and before you know it you are over there, reading Dr. Seuss parodies! I was fascinated and had to learn how to do that. In order to write web pages, I had to have something to write about. My beloved oils, of course, what else?
At the same time, I was making blends and giving them to friends. “This is wonderful, it’s all gone, may I have some more?” “I need to buy more ingredients, you’ll have to give me some money.” Or I would find a better specimen of something I already had, and sell what I had in order to buy better. (I think I am still doing both, only on a larger scale.) I had no intention of starting a business. But one supplier I had heard of insisted on a business license in order to purchase. In order to have a business license, I needed a business name. I remember sitting on a park bench with a friend one sunny Sunday afternoon, both of us with legal pads, brainstorming possible names. I don’t know which of us came up with “Nature’s Gift,” but it was just right.
In 1995 I discovered the IDMA list (A private mailing list filled with those who loved the oils. Some, experts with years of experience; some, like me, thirsty little sponges). Some of the contacts I made in this list are still active in the industry today — friends, mentors, and colleagues. I have emailed archives of discussions from that list that I still refer to upon occasion. I also invested in Sylla Sheppard Hanger’s Aromatherapy Practitioner’s Reference Manual and started to build a reputation for knowing something. People would ask a question online. I would research it in Sylla’s book and post an answer.
People thought I knew something. (Thanks, Sylla!) That was also the year that my aromatherapy musings and occasional products went online, on a free MindSpring website. (The URL no longer exists.) That is the year we have since chosen as the year Nature’s Gift was established.
In 1996 I enrolled in the first of what would become many Aromatherapy courses which I failed to complete and receive my certification for … Jade Shute’s “Institute of Dynamic Aromatherapy.” I did not continue the course for a long list of reasons, which established a pattern:… grab the knowledge/information that I need and don’t complete the required case studies, since I don’t intend on treating individual clients. Since then I have studied with Madeleine Kerkhoff, Complementary Care for Palliative/End of Life Care and, most recently, her Fusion Aromatherapy course (focusing on the CO2 extracts.); Mark Webb’s courses in Aromatic Medicine and in CO2 Extracts; the R. J. Buckle course in Clinical Aromatherapy for Health Professionals several weekend courses with Robert Tisserand, most recently his Essential oil Safety six week online course; two courses with Cathy Brewer and Florian Birkmayer of AromaGnosis.
There have been other courses and other teachers; I should have kept better track through the years. This does not include attendance at more NAHA and AIA conferences than I can count, and the education received there, as well as the monthly webinars offered by both organizations. Nor does it include the many mentors over the years, some of whom are still in my life. I adore traveling to courses and seminars. My staff laughs, “Other people take vacations, Marge goes to school.”
That was how it all started.
Some major events for Nature’s Gift over the years. Around the year 2000, Gabriel Mojay asked me to take over and run a vendor booth at NAHA in Seattle, that he had reserved and paid for but no longer wanted. Would we use it to display our oils and give him space to display his books and poster? (How could we not?!). But I had only been to one conference and had no concept of how to set up or run a vendor booth! Sheer panic set in, but I couldn’t do it, and in spite of my terror, it went beautifully. In 2002 we met Dr. Jane Buckle at an AHNA conference in Nashville where we were displaying our oils. She invited us to be one of the suppliers for her various Clinical Aromatherapy courses. I think that was the single most validating experience of my professional career–the real symbol that yes, this is who we are.
At some point over the years, Sylla Sheppard Hanger presented Nature’s Gift with the United Aromatherapy Effort’s “First Responder’s Award”, as a result of participating in the UAE’s efforts to care for first responders after 9/11, Katrina, and other disasters, as well as the Boots on the Ground where we sent appropriate products to troops stationed in Afghanistan, Nature’s Gift, had always been the first to respond to calls for help. (When Sylla was sent a flag that flew over Camp Phoenix in Afghanistan, with a letter of thanks from the commanding officer, we were the first to receive it. We could still smell the smoke from the artillery shells. We took pictures, cried, and sent it to the next name on the list.
In 2007 I was contacted by the Leatherwood Press, in Utah, and asked to write a small aromatherapy book for them to publish. Essential Oils and Aromatics was the result. In addition at one time, I wrote a regular column for Sensitivity, at one time the Journal of the National Association of Holistic Aromatherapy. The IJPHA and some other journals have also published articles I’ve written.
Because so many shared their knowledge so willingly in my early years, Nature’s Gift has always tried to give back to the Aromatherapy community. In addition to trying to answer as many questions as possible and give safe and appropriate information to the newcomer, we have sponsored conferences for both professional organizations, we are business members of the American Holistic Nurses Association and have funded research projects for its members, and, of course, supported the UAE with both products and financial contribution. When we know there is a need in our community, whether public or private, we try to answer the call.
I am told that Nature’s Gift is a gift to many of our clients. What they don’t realize is what a gift it has been to me.