MAMAS IN BUSINESS SERIES | O.R.A (Ordinary Rituals Aromatherapy)
First up in our 'Mamas in Business Series' is the lovely Kate from O.R.A.
Thank you so much for being apart of our ‘Mama in business’ series. This is something we have been wanting to do for a while now, celebrating women, in particular mums; the highs, the lows and the journey of getting too where you are and what lies ahead...
Okay, let's get started with a few quick fire questions....
Go to Drink? Freshly Squeezed OJ at the moment (and secretly Pink Gin)
Favourite Restaurant? White and Wong in Queenstown (scrummy scrummy)
Favourite song right now? At the moment Vienna cover by Laura Zocca
Go to beauty product? Can't live without my own Light Worker Organic Bioactive Day Cream - no joke.
Favourite overseas destination? Europe, anywhere - but if I had to pick, Oia in Greece.
Okay, now lets get a little more serious...
Can you start by sharing with us what is Ora Aromatherapy?
O.R.A (Ordinary Rituals Aromatherapy)
ORA is a local Gisborne business creating handcrafted therapeutic aromatherapy wellness and skincare to enhance well-being naturally for the body, mind and spirit. Making your simplistic ordinary routines of the everyday into a ritual. We are 100% Natural and cruelty free. Absolutely nothing nasty goes into our products. ORA is handmade in small batches with energy and love - using therapeutic essential oils and organic botanicals with sustainable eco friendly packaging. Here in Aotearoa.
What were you doing before you started your business? How has your prior experience in both life/jobs helped shape your business today?
First of all, I have always had an exceptional sense of smell... Born with a nose like my grans, who was always one for sniffing out the smallest whiff. I was working as a communications specialist, before that recruitment consultant (where I learned I cared too much and wasn't as resilient as you need to be for that role) and prior to that I was a Primary teacher. I am an empath and knew I had to be working where I was helping people (which was one of the reasons I trained post grad to be a teacher) I am an ideas person, I love being able to have the freedom to roll these out when they come to me without all the roadblocks when working for someone else. I have learnt about opportunity, grabbing it when you can, relationships are everything, and also, these 'office' jobs made me realise how I am totally an environment person - I need to be working in wellness spaces with FRESH AIR.
Can you share the early days of Ora Aromatherapy and how it began?
I started doing aromatherapy workshops and making my own products when I was working as a recruitment consultant (2014) , turning to essential oils to help with the stress of that role. I have always been into potion making, as I began to make certain mists (hayfever remedy being the very first one) I was using in the office. One day a colleague said to me "whatever that mist is youre spraying around has completely cleared up my hayfever and I haven't had that happen in forever" they encouraged me to 'quit my day job' as a joke, as I had really developed an incredible recipe - I moved to Papamoa and began doing The Little Big Markets - I remember selling 12 bottles of Hayfever Remedy in my first market and was so excited! I continued to do these markets for 4 years , growing my brand. When I had my first child Felix, I fully committed to ORA and didn't go back to my job, and have never looked back.
In the early stages of setting up Ora Aromatherapy what were some of the hurdles you had to overcome?
I never took a loan, everything I earnt for years was re-invested into the business. I had to learn that even though it looks that way, there was no such thing as an overnight success. It took years of gaining a customer base, and one of the biggest things was learning to outsource, spending the money in those early days for that always was hard but it was so essential.
How do you balance work and mum life?
Still trying to get that balance - if you work it out, let me know! haha. Basically now I can only work while my youngest naps. Somehow I cram what used to be a 40 hour week into three 2 hour slots a week...
What advice would you give to other women who aren’t feeling fulfilled in their current job or degree who have a creative side passion?
I do have to say, you do need to be 100% committed to going out and taking that plunge into your passion. It needs to be something that is lead first of all by your passion, so that through thick and thin, you won't be able to just give it up, if that makes sense? I am so passionate about what I do, there is no way I can ever see myself doing anything else. When the going gets tough, I remind myself that this is my dream job, even if its not the one that makes me the most money, it makes me the most happy, and to me that is so important. It fills my cup. It would be good to get a business mentor to talk with who can help you figure it out, point you in the right direction. So helpful to have these chats with experienced people.
Ok so life has been pretty crazy the last couple of years with the pandemic etc, what are some of the struggles you have faced during this time?
Yeah, wow. What a crazy time we are living. No body likes the unknown. That was always something hard to handle, not knowing what might be happening, whether we would lose our jobs etc. For the lockdowns we were blessed to live in a beautiful corner of the world, surrounded by beauty which kept me grounded. I only ever counted my blessings and felt grateful for that. I think the struggle now is the amount of competition businesses have sprouted during these times where people are looking for ways to work from home (because yes it is amazing to have that option!) But I think it is key to stay in lane, focus on what is working and try not to be put off by what someone else is doing over the fence.
Have you got any future goals for ORA Aromatherapy in the next few years?
I have a wonderful staff member Alana who has joined me which has been so amazing to have someone also with a business mind to bounce ideas off, and she is a talent to have on board. We have some exciting new products coming out soon! I will always have ORA small batch, which means I have no desire to be factory made or in huge amounts for massive outlets (which is not sustainable) so always staying true to aligning with like minded stockists, our own website and collaborations. Its really good to have that strong sense of what ORA is all about and not be swayed by some big fish interest (I have turned away in the past because of that small batch belief).
Before we let you go, we must ask; what are your top three favourite Ora Aromatherapy products?
Ooo this is always the hardest question because its like choosing a favourite child haha, but thank you for saying top three, that makes it easer - Light Worker Face Cream, White Light Purification Mist (like magic in a bottle) and Flow essential oil blend - post covid, this is the best pick me up!
Thanks so much Kate!! We wish you all the best in the future with your beautiful brand, we are BIG fans!!