Can essential oils lift your mood and make you feel good with just a whiff of their fragrance! So Aromatherapist says. Can they help with the present day Covid stress! It is no surprise that a skilled Aromatherapist can concoct combinations of oils to reduce road rage, reduce fatigue and improve concentration while driving, reduces the level of frustration encountered in traffic and also heightens alertness. Jasmine is used as a sleep aid and the scent of vanilla is useful for those who want to cut the craving for sweets after lunch.
Based on the usage of essential oils and aromatic materials, Aromatherapy claims improving psychological or physical well-being. The use goes back to ancient civilizations including the Chinese, Indian, Egyptians, Greeks, and Romans who used them in cosmetics, perfumes and drugs.
A leading name in aroma based beauty therapies and its pioneer in India, Dr Blossom Kochhar, with over 170 aromatherapy based products including skin care, hair care, essential oils and curative oils, has 1000 plus salons and 4000 plus leading retail cosmetic outlets. With an international presence in countries like South Africa, Malaysia, Sri Lanka, Bangladesh, Vietnam, Nepal, Australia and New Zealand, Aromamagic’s Dr Kochhar is the Member, Governing Council, Beauty and Wellness Sector Skills Council, NSDC (National Skill Development Corporation) and was the Grooming expert for Femina Miss India in 2018.
Interestingly born amongst the blooming of coffee and tea plantations in the Nilgiri hills she was named Blossom by her parents Albert Joseph Otter & Marie Hellene Otter. Dr Kochhar has 9 awards including Lifetime Achievement Award and 6 books on beauty culture and Aromatherapy to her credit. Her philanthropy includes grooming cancer survivors to nurses to skilling army widows and underprivileged and specially abled children.
To get an insight into how is beauty and wellness industry coping with the Covid times crisis, a talk with founder of Aromamagic brand Dr Blossom Kochhar:
Q. In covid 19 times with all businesses big & small shutting down how do you see beauty & wellness industry being affected?
- Like many other industries, the beauty and wellness industry has taken a major hit, with the lockdown going on for months and even now when the salons are open not many clients are turning up which has led to more than 40% of salons getting shut. The small salons were not able to pay their rents as well as pay the salaries of their staff, hence many called it quits. The bigger ones, those who had a number of salon chains are also revising their magnitude of business and devising plans to sustain themselves.
Q. What ways is the industry devising to make a jumpstart to get back to its lucrative model given that the covid condition is here to stay for a long haul.
- The industry is strictly following the 3 S model which is, sanitisation, sterilisation and social distancing. Only a limited number of clients are allowed at a time that too only with prior appointments, the staff is using only disposable equipments that is thrown after every service and most importantly the salons are giving the confidence to their clients that they are taking all the necessary steps for their safety. Another thing the salons are doing is concentrating on more hair services that involve less contact and proximity and side by side they are devising new techniques to give beauty services with as much distance between the client and the technician.
Q. What does Aroma Magic brand specialize in. How will you call yourself a cut different from your competitors.
- Aroma Magic is very different from a normal beauty brand because all our products are based on Aromatherapy. Our products include natural essential oils that are derived from leaves, flowers, bark of the tree and we avoid chemicals at every cost as they do not work with essential oils. Aroma Magic is an Indian brand, we procure all our ingredients from different places within the country, the production, packaging and labelling also happen in the country itself. Also, Aromatherapy is part of Ayurveda, so we are borrowing all the knowledge from our ancestors and making a completely natural product for our clients. Our products do not just work on your skin but also relaxes your mind and gives you holistic beauty that works on your body, mind, and soul. In fact, essential oils can be used for a lot of ailments and help in fighting infections because of their antiviral, antibacterial and antifungal properties.
Q. Beauty & wellness industry is a major employer as a service provider. How do you see employment prospects now & how are you affected by it.
- Beauty and wellness was one the fastest growing sectors before covid, more than 30% of the population was working in this sector and we were expecting a bigger employment boom in the coming years. But with the virus and the lockdown happening the whole scenario has changed. Lot of salons have shut down; others have cut down their staff, so we have seen a lot of people losing their jobs in the past few months. But we must realise that this situation is here to stay for at least a year now so people in this industry will have to re skill themselves, they will have to learn to multi-task. Earlier salons would hire 2-3 people for the same task but now they would expect people to be multi taskers like they would want the beautician to know makeup and the makeup artist to know how to do hair so that they can also bare the cost of running the salon at the same time be able to give salaries to their staff. So, I suggest to all the people in this industry, that this is the time to skill yourself and prepare yourself to do more than what they were doing before.
Q. What challenges has the industry been facing & how do you wish the govt could help you.
- The major problem that salon owners are facing is rents for salons which are too high, many have closed down because they weren’t able to pay salaries, rents and loans. I wish the government would have waived off rents until the salons were back in business, also the interest rate on loans could have been brought down so that they could hold the fort for long and at the same time give salaries to their staff. I also believe the government could have announced some funds especially for small salons so they could have survived the money crunch.
Q. With the lockdown opening & govt allowing salons, spas, and parlours opening how do you plan bringing back your consumers who are still vary of going to parlours for beauty services. Have you worked out new models of your services?
- The clients have to feel comfortable and secure while visiting the salon and that is what our concentration is on. We are continuously telling our clients all necessary precautions that we are taking to maintain our salon hygiene and keep it virus free. We are very careful at every step from maintaining that not many people are present at one go in the salon, to providing PPE kits, masks and gloves to our staff, after every client visit the salon is re-sanitised for the next customer, there are regular temperature checks being done. We have also got certified by the Beauty and Wellness sector skill council and NSDC in their post covid beauty services programme. We are in regular touch with our customers and reassuring them that they are safe when they visit our salon.
Q. What challenges & struggles did you face in building Aromamagic as a brand given the tough competitive market.
- When I started in 1993, people were not aware of what Aromatherapy is and how it can help them. The concept of essential oils in beauty products was alien to them therefore I had to personally travel all around the country, hosting seminars and sessions to educate people about how aromatherapy works. When we started there was no social media and advertising was not that rampant so we had to be face to face with our clients to make them use the product and for that we went to a lot of exhibitions. But my only thought was that I believed in my products, I knew aromatherapy does wonders not just to your skin but also to the mind and soul and even though it took a little while for people to understand it, but now seeing where the brand is and the love that the products receive I believe all the struggle and challenges were worth it.