Melissa Curran is a certified aromatherapist and the owner of Scented Balance, which is located in Kernersville, North Carolina. The store has been open since May of 2019, and is part of the Ramey Dawn Wellness Group, which includes an acupuncturist, life coaching, massage therapy, and several other wellness practitioners. We sat down with Melissa to ask her what her journey has been like.
Abound: How did you decide to open your store?
Melissa: I enjoy selling my products at handmade markets. At every market, several customers would ask if I had a shop. Now I say yes, come see me! Scented Balance Aromatherapy is part of a wellness group made of several other holistic practitioners.
Abound: What does your store sell?
Melissa: I am a certified essential oil professional and I personally make all of my aromatherapy blends for stress, anxiety, chronic pain, upset stomach, eczema, etc. My aromatherapy products are for sale in the shop. I also have a number of gift items and some greeting cards. I offer other things along with aromatherapy to attract people to stop in and see what’s going on!
Abound: Did you have your own aromatherapy business before you had a brick and mortar location?
Melissa: Yes, I’ve had an online presence at Scented Balance.com since 2014. You’ll also find me on Facebook and Instagram with the handle ScentedBalance. My website is an ecommerce site that I’ve hosted for several years. Since online shopping is so much a part of daily life, I want to make sure that Scented Balance has an online presence as well.
Abound: What was your inspiration for starting your online brand, and how did you get to the point where you were ready to open a retail location?
Melissa: What got me interested in aromatherapy was the damage to my thyroid and the other organs in my body from chemicals in everyday products. Chemicals that are in your body wash, soaps, shampoo, and makeup really cause a lot of problems. Your deodorant is a huge one as well. In particular, my endocrine system, which is what your thyroid is, had some issues.
I started connecting the dots and doing my research. I wasn’t getting any answers but then I learned about aromatherapy. I learned that aromatherapy, which is the use of pure essential oils, helps and enhances every area of your body, mind and spirit. Aromatherapy as a practice and profession goes back several thousand years.
That’s when I started creating products to lessen my body’s chemical load and created my website to sell the blends I made. Then I said “you know people at farmers’ markets and handmade fairs and festivals are looking for products like this.” Customers really like handmade products that help them with everyday issues, they don’t want to take more toxic pills or creams. And that’s where I come in!
Then, in early spring of 2019, I received a phone call about joining a holistic wellness group. That’s when I was asked to join the Ramey Dawn Wellness Group. We have several holistic practitioners that are all part of this wellness group.
Abound: So you just kind of happened to fall into this other larger movement. And you guys all get to work together like a co-op. That’s really cool.
Melissa: Yes, it is! It’s wonderful to not only have my aromatherapy shop with this group, but to also practice my profession as an aromatherapist in a holistic environment. We have an acupuncturist, a skincare therapist, a life and health coach, a massage therapist, a pain manager and then there’s me. Your staff aromatherapist.
Abound: Did you have connections with them beforehand? How did they become aware of you?
Melissa: I didn’t have any connections with them, they found me through a Google search. And if you type in “aromatherapist near me,” I come up first for my area. I worked hard on the SEO on my website to make sure if you use the word aromatherapy or aromatherapist, I’ll come up near the top. That’s how the owner found me and extended the invitation.
Abound: That makes sense because all these businesses may have similar clientele and people may want to go to more than one business at the same time.
Melissa: Exactly. It’s a spa day and you can spend the whole day with us. Our massage therapist is very skilled and she can give you up to a two hour massage. Our skin care therapist offers facials that make you feel pampered. A perfect place for self-care, which is very important!
Abound: So I’d love to hear your thought process about the rest of the products that you stock. How did you get ideas for what else you wanted to offer, and how did you go about finding those products?
Melissa: It’s important to give customers more than one reason to come into your shop, that’s just how it works. Otherwise, they’re not going to come in very often. So I was looking for items that would go along with the aromatherapy, and would speak to what else my customers have going on in their lives.
I stock greeting cards because people get caught going ‘oh my gosh it’s somebody’s birthday.’ I have candles, organic teas and an organic bath salt bar. I also have temporary tattoos for adults. I have locally made soaps and also carry local CBD/Hemp extract because some items are just better from your local area. I actually have a local photographer’s prints of things like the moon and roses.
Products that go along with self care, providing beauty in your home and in your life. And so those are the different ideas I have to get people to visit me more than once a month.
Abound: Do you feel like you have a customer in mind when you were designing your store?
Melissa: Obviously I am open to anyone who wants to come into my shop and smell and try, because you can test all my products. But to say that I’m open to anyone means that I’m not really speaking to anyone in particular. And it’s a crowded marketplace, so no one’s going to be listening, which is why I have a niche market.
To narrow it down, my ideal customer is female, and she’s 40 to 55. There are some changes going on in her life. She might still have kids at home and be dealing with family issues, or maybe her kids have moved out and she’s figuring out her next step.
She might be dealing with aging parents, so I make products that can help with chronic pain, which is huge. I’m a huge proponent of Elderberry extracts because they’re so good for your immune system. Fighting off the flu is really important if you have kids or aging parents in your home. I touch on all these sorts of issues on my blog, I research and write about topics I think my customers will find useful.
Abound: It seems like you really have a handle on online marketing, between your blog and making sure your website has good SEO. How did you learn how to do that?
Melissa: None of it is easy, it was trial and error and a sometimes frustrating learning curve. You really have to know who your ideal customer is. I don’t target a 20-something, because they’re not necessarily into aromatherapy at this point in their lives. But someone who is in their 40s, who has a family with some health concerns might want a wellness group. She wants someone to help her find holistic approaches to health, is open to aromatherapy, and she is probably on Facebook or Instagram.
I have taken a couple of classes on Facebook ads about how to reach my target audience, but outside of that I’m self taught.
Abound: Since you’ve opened your brick and mortar location, have you had to make any pivots? Did any of your first guesses require readjusting?
Melissa: I’m still finishing my first year of business in this particular location, and nothing has required a major pivot yet. I did really well in January and February, which is surprising because retail usually doesn’t do well with months that begin with a J.
Abound: That’s clever, I’ve never heard the retail seasons explained in that way before.
Melissa: Well in January, you’ve just finished Christmas. Then in June and July you have people on vacation so those tend to be tough retail months. That’s why I work hard to ensure customers have a reason to visit Scented Balance!
Abound: Well thank you so much for meeting with me, and telling me about your story!
Melissa: You’re very welcome. Thank you Abound for all the products that help make my shop awesome!