Neom is the wellbeing fragrance brand that truly works. Light a sleep candle, you’ll be snoozing in no time. Jump in the shower with its Energy Burst shower gel and you’ll skip your morning coffee (maybe). Founded in 2005 by Nicola Eliott with her business partner Oliver Mennell, the brand has come leaps and bounds from its first inception. Using the finest Aromatherapy oils on the market, Neom Organics looks to everyday issues, solving them 100% natural fragrances for the mind and body. Ethically sourced, sustainable, natural and organic it’s truly editor approved. We catch up with Eliott on her recent trip to Dubai to discover what it’s really like to launch your own business and how to find that perfect work to life balance.
How did you adjust from a journalist career to opening your own business?
“I thought it was going to be a lot easier. I thought to work for yourself, you’ll go in at eight or you’ll go in at 11. There will be this flexibility. I was so stressed being a journalist. I thought this would be the answer – I was wrong! Totally wrong. But it’s my passion and hobby. The line is very blurred for me now between working and it being a hobby. If I’m working on a new store design, then obviously instead of watching the TV, I’d be on Pinterest picking out things for the space. So, in answer to your question, it was not everything that I expected. It was very different, in many different ways. But it starts off small and I think the thing with having your own business is that if it grows as much as Neom has then every year it’s a different job. The job I’m doing today is totally different to the job I did when we launched 12 years ago. It’s different to the one I was doing six years ago.”
What attracted you to the world of aromatherapy?
“I had a hit wellbeing wall when I was about 28. I’m sure most people have had varying degrees of this. Mine was pretty severe because I ended up having awful anxiety and panic attacks. It was because of being stressed and working too hard. I did entertainment journalism so I did a lot of work with New York and LA. You never really switched off. I was working really hard but on the flip side I was 28 and I didn’t have any kids, so I didn’t have a huge amount of financial difficulties. I thought if I’ve hit the wall now this doesn’t bode well for the future. I just needed to think about my wellbeing. It wasn’t anything hugely radical. It was about not thinking or prioritizing wellbeing in any way to thinking, actually, this is a priority – something as simple as that.
I started looking after myself in very simple basic ways. I studied nutrition and became interested in eating the right foods. I started moving a little bit more. I started getting out of the sunlight a and became very interested in aromatherapy. I found all of those elements incredibility important and still to this day maintain that they are all important.
You can’t say the answer to wellbeing is X or Y. It’s not. It’s about creating a toolkit with all of these factors which are unique, and which work for you. I found that aromatherapy and the blending of the oils were very helpful and furthermore found them very helpful to the people around me. I didn’t just think it was something that was a problem for me, I could look around and think actually I can really see that my sister is having trouble sleeping, my husband is having problems with energy levels, my friend has got all sorts of mood swings going on. It felt like everything and everyone seemed to suffer in some way from one of those four kinds of issues. Sleep, stress, mood, and lack of energy.”
Do you have a particular favorite ingredient that you work with?
“No. I’m very fond of orange blossom, and fond of more simple oils actually. I really like lemon but I like specific kinds of lemon. I like Sicilian lemon, it’s the highest grade of oil. Hand-picked later on in the day, it smells totally different to one that has been picked earlier in the day. I like all oils, but I suppose I am quite a fan of orange.
It has a lot to do with what I need. That is the whole point of Neom. I think what makes me laugh is that at any one time I’ll be attracted to one type of fragrance, like anyone else would do and I would really dislike other fragrances. So, we have to really test fragrances. It’s all about your body, it knows best what your mind needs.”
Where do you source your oils from?
“We get them from all over the world. Lemon oil is typically from Sicily. We get geranium sometimes from China. Lavender is sourced from France, sometimes England. We use them both in different ways. Everywhere – it’s worldwide. Because we only use natural and we don’t use any chemically produced oils, and it’s happened to us before we might have found a fantastic supplier who does beautiful harvests of oranges or lavender and they might have a horrible harvest. Then you have to go elsewhere to get your oils. These are some of the difficulties with using natural oils.”
Why is making time to switch off so important?
“We live in an always-on society, don’t we? I’ve suffered from horrible anxiety issues, and it does feel that those issues are on the rise. For me, that’s always what’s triggered anxiety, when I’ve pushed too much. I know from my own experience that if you’re going to always be switched on in that way, then it comes with a consequence. I think we see the whole concept of taking time for ourselves as a luxury and not a necessity. I think that needs totally resetting.
So, can you have a bath that is seriously going to help you sleep? Yes! If you’re in the shower anyway, why not have an energizing shower treatment if you find it difficult to get yourself going in the morning? If you’re sitting with your family in the evening and you like burning candles, why not burn candles that are helping the whole family de-stress. So that was always my hope, that Neom would just fit in.”
How do you find a work and life balance?
“I think we need to reset perfect. Perfect is 80% in my world. You offend the odd person, you ditch the odd meeting, I send my son to school in a Roman costume and not a Viking one. See ‘me’ time as a necessity and not luxury. I think you just have to constantly take the pressure off yourself and ultimately part of taking that pressure off, is knowing that you’re not necessarily going to get it right in everything that you do.”