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Cheryl Strickland is the CEO and owner of Aroma Scents Natural Products.

I am a Certified Aromatherapist who operates Aroma Scents Natural Products in London, Ontario, Canada.  I am passionate about creating quality products that are safe and natural for all to use. My mission is to assist and teach people how to take care of themselves and use healthy products!  I hand make organic soaps, natural beauty lotions and creams, and spa bath products. My base ingredient is high-quality organic olive oil mixed with other organic vegetable oils and aromatic essential oils and natural additives.

What inspired you to become an entrepreneur?
I’ve often been asked, why do you make soap? Here’s my story.

I worked for many years in a technical job with a large telecommunications company.  I was fortunate to be able leave the company with an early retirement option. What a great feeling of freedom and yet I did not know what was next. I could do anything, but had to figure out what to do. Luckily my sister is a career coach and she helped me see that I had to create a viable plan for the next phase of my life. I’m so glad I did. I decided to make natural soaps and spa bath products.

How did you develop Aroma Scents Natural Products?

For most of my life my secret passion has been to work in the area of natural and organic products. I’d studied and read a lot about herbs and their uses over the years. It was going to take a long time and a lot of money to be certified as a herbalist. So that wasn’t my path.

I researched other options in alternative health and discovered aromatherapy and essential oils. This immediately struck a chord in me. I was very excited as there were many viable options for a qualified aromatherapist.  I used to live in Mississauga and I found a great place in the area to study and get certified in aromatherapy in a year. I did the courses and learned so much. It was a fantastic profession to find.  Through these studies I found a person who taught cold process soap-making courses locally. I took several basic and advanced courses with her. Making soap handmade the old-fashioned way with essential oils is creative and always an adventure. I have been making soap since 2008. Having never ever entertained the thought, I was in business by January 2009.  And I have been busy making soap ever since. That’s just the start of my story! I loved experimenting with different recipes. I made so many soaps that friends and relatives advised me to do it as a business.

How have you developed your business?

I found I loved making and selling quality handmade organic soaps. There was a good market for these types of soaps, as I discovered selling at many local craft and church bazaars. I added to my product line by making all natural spa bath products, creams and lotions. I was doing quite well selling in the local area around Mississauga, but for urgent family reasons had to relocate myself and my business to London, Ontario in 2010.

It was a great personal and business upheaval. I was really starting my business over again in an unfamiliar market with many more local soap competitors. I was fortunate to find the Small Business Centre in London and took a lot of business building courses with them on doing a business plan, defining my target market, marketing, etc. I was still doing bazaars and craft shows but was not meeting the customers who really wanted all natural organic soaps and bath products. Then in December 2013 I was very fortunate to get a space as a vendor at the local Western Fair Famers and Artisans Market in London’s Old East Village. Now I had found the ideal venue with customers who needed and appreciated my organic chemical-free soaps, skin-care and bath products.

I have such pleasure meeting my customers one-on-one. I now have the opportunity to find out their needs, educate them about the benefits of using handmade soaps and sell with passion. I have always taken a sincere interest in my customers and I keep a focus on them and their skincare needs. I tell and show them how my products will benefit them. I keep my prices moderate so that most customers can afford to have luxury natural products at affordable prices. I am passionate about letting people know about the health benefits of aromatherapy essential oils.

What is the best part about owning your own business?
Having worked in a large corporation for many years, I now don’t have to fit the mold of a traditional 9 to 5 job. I can blaze my own trail. I provide great products at reasonable prices that are environmentally friendly and good for people. I love what I do and going to work is not work at all.

Are you active in your community? What does supporting locally mean to you?
Yes, I am a regular vendor at the weekly Western Fair Farmer’s and Artisan’s Market in London, Ontario on Saturdays. My company has had a sales outlet there for 3 years. I take pride in providing all natural handmade personal care products that are affordable and safe for people to use, as well as environmentally friendly. I source the majority of my product raw materials and packaging locally where possible.

What does the future look like for you and your business?

There is a huge demand locally and globally for affordable handmade soaps and spa bath products. I have chosen an excellent niche for my business. Personal self-care products that are safe and environmentally friendly are in an area that is much in demand and growing steadily each year. I see a very solid future for my business.