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Essential Well Being

Essential Well Being

A Modern Guide to Using Essential Oils in Beauty, Body, and Home Rituals
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We grew up in a small farming community on an island off the west coast of Canada. This idyllic place was a mixture of farms and ocean. Growing up on the beach, my brother Sean and I were two of the few kids in the area, so becoming friends was basically a necessity—play together or alone. We would spend our evenings and weekends building beach forts, collecting berries from farm stands and paddle boarding. Although at the time we didn’t fully understand the beautiful simplicity we lived in, we now appreciate how our parents were early adopters of organic produce, non-toxic cleaning products and an overall curiosity about health and well-being.

Needless to say, our belief in natural and simple living came from our mom and dad. They were very influential in the way we regard nature and our respect for the natural world. As a family, we would frequently go hiking or camping and spend time outdoors, planting our own vegetables and picking apples with our grandparents. We didn’t travel internationally during our childhood, nor were we introduced to business, yet I was always curious about cultures and places around the world, and Sean was always very entrepreneurial.

I knew I was interested in wellness and wanted to help people, so I decided pretty early on that I wanted to be a doctor. I felt that a career in medicine would allow me to travel, and I knew that I wanted to practise medicine for people who wouldn’t otherwise have access to it. I began working on a degree in Global Health Sciences, and throughout my studies, my grandfather (Papa) would often remind me “to think smart, not hard” and to “keep my options open.” I’m very glad I did, because it made me stay curious about the themes, subjects and topics that light me up.

In university, I made my first trip abroad with my dad. We took out an old-world atlas and chose a spot on the map: Morocco and Spain. In Spain, I came to love Mediterranean culture, fresh food, coffee, olive oils and tapas. Morocco was fully immersive—we took a train through the entire country, stopping at small towns, walking through souks, collecting herbs, drinking the iconic sugar-filled peppermint tea in the morning and discovering hidden fabric and leather dyeing operations. The most transformative experience of Morocco for me was witnessing the way spa culture is fully integrated into their way of life. It was not a frivolous, once-or-twice-a-year experience—as it is for women in North America. Instead, the hammam was ingrained in their everyday and weekly routines. Dry brushing, steam rooms, exfoliation, black soap and rose-infused body oils were all an unwritten part of life. I loved learning about the ways that people would take care of their skin and create rituals that helped their bodies and minds reset. On this trip, I started to collect dried rose petals, peppermint tea, frankincense and black soap, which sparked a new love for self-care in me, as well as a curiosity about how I could use ancient rituals to elevate the simple moments of my day.

Another travel experience that dramatically influenced my passion and inspiration for what has become vitruvi was my first trip to Kenya. I spent time in Masai Mara working with women’s cooperatives as a member of the Nobel Prize–nominated charity I worked with the organization for 5 years: from the time I left high school until I completed my university degree. At that time, the now-massive organization was very grassroots, and the entire team flew to Kenya to witness firsthand the positive impact we were creating in partnerships with the communities there. I walked with women to collect water from the Mara River, talking to them about their husbands, their children and how empowerment through alternative income projects enabled them to take care of themselves and their families. These conversations were transformative but not in the way that you might expect—they instilled in me a deep desire to devote my life to helping women take care of themselves. In my mind, there is nothing more powerful than a woman who is self-sufficient: a woman who is strong in her body and in her mind and who knows how to tend to her overall wellness. That is a powerful woman.

After receiving my degree in Global Health Sciences, I had to transition from studying health from an anthropological perspective to the scientific rigour of medical school. It was a big change, but it provided me with a deeper understanding of physiology, the endocrine system and body systems. A certain alchemy happened for me while studying medicine—I became passionate about learning about rituals and how people could reconstruct their days and habits to better address their potential. The concept of personal potential, self-care and botanicals became my passion, and that passion translated into an outlet that was a website.

My brother and I never set out to build a company. We were roommates—Sean studying entrepreneurship and myself in medical school. We started a simple website that Sean would work on in the evenings, while I interviewed people in our community and people I met in school about their health and wellness practices. We started experimenting with essential oils after referencing the products, ingredients and botanicals I was writing about from cultures around the world. We kept things simple at the start by creating our own blends to help us study, to wake up in the morning and to fall asleep in the evenings. These first blends are the foundation of our Rituals Collection product line.

We became passionate about learning how scent specifically could help cue the brain and body to transition through moments of the day. Our first collections were built in our apartment—we were filling bottles by hand, finding creative ways to blend oils, learning about their benefits and experimenting on friends and family. We offered a simple initial collection on our website that’s still very much the basis of what the company has expanded into today.

The desire and pursuit that inspired me to want to be a doctor are the same ones that inspire and fulfill me every day at our office. To travel, to act as a translator between cultures and practices and to help people carve out moments for themselves throughout their day—that’s what drives me. Our products, content and ethos are meant to act as small reminders that you can transform the simple moments of your day into moments when you fill your cup back up. Moments when you explore your own potential through the simple and ancient act of taking time for your body and mind using botanicals, plant oils and rituals.

We launched the concept for vitruvi and our initial collection (which had paper labels... not the best idea when creating an oil product) and quickly started gaining traction. We started by taking orders from boutiques in Canada and then expanded that to include North America. For the first 2 years of the company, we hand-filled and hand-parcelled every single order. This attention to detail and direct relationship with our customers and stores built the foundation of the company to be completely customer-centric. By asking for feedback, creating iterations and sourcing and cultivating larger volumes of products, Sean built the entire operations of the company without any experience at the age of 22. We were learning on the fly: our days were spent talking to customers and boutique wholesale accounts and our evenings were spent mixing oils, filling bottles and preparing shipments. The wellness industry was just starting to gain traction, and with that, the company did as well.

What has resulted is so much more than we could have ever imagined. Our customers are some of the kindest and most inspiring people we have ever met. Our story is something that is still being written every day. As brother and sister, we come into the office each morning to a team of talented, compassionate, intuitive and creative people who feel like family. vitruvi is built out of passion and the happy coincidences that can happen only when you are in flow—when you take risks and follow a path that feels uncomfortable but also very true to you and what you want to contribute to the world. We feel lucky every day to be able to experiment, design, cultivate, create and produce products that embody what we hope for our customers.

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The Aromatherapy Beauty Guide

The Aromatherapy Beauty Guide

Using the Science of Carrier and Essential Oils to Create Natural Personal Care Products
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