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The Essence Of Breathing And Aromatherapy with Valerie Bennis
This is a show that discusses ego healthily. The energy, the zest and the awesomeness of life are found when we dive deep into the core of who we are, including our shadow selves. Those little shadow selves in us all, the parts of us that make us not so happy but whole. We have to look at ourselves as a whole being. The positive and the negative in order to understand how to live a life fulfilled and be happy with who we are. This show brings us all together to see and to discuss and experience the bliss of the notion that opportunity is a possibility. Every opportunity is a possibility. Our special guest is the lovely and talented, Valerie Bennis, also known as Vali. She’s the Founder and Creator of one of the first aromatherapy brands, Essence of Vali. She’s also written a song and created a music video for survivors of sexual misconduct and she’s one of my dearest friends. Vali, welcome to the show. Please tell them about how you go beyond in your life.
It’s nice to meet everybody. I go beyond ego by practicing. I’ve done a lot of my own self-discovery workshops over the last 30 years. I know that distinction and I know when I get triggered because I’m still human. When I go beyond ego, that’s me being the adult as opposed to when I’m in my ego, which can be a more childish reaction to something.
In my new book, The Kind Communicator, I use the term very often and in many of the chapters I call it adulting with benefits. When we learn to love our challenges, love our flaws, understands our mistakes and muck, that’s when we do become the adult in the room. The opposite would be an adult acting like a child. I want everyone to take a breath, even you, Vali. Let’s just take a deep inhale and an exhale. This episode’s theme is about breath and centering ourselves. Vali, since you’re one of the first aromatherapists, I thought it would be appropriate to discuss the very important topic for all leaders and all people in general, to breathe more. Tell us a little bit about when you started the Essence of Vali and what was the impetus for doing so? What was that moment when you said, “I want to make everyone breathe more and breathe in the good stuff?”
I was an executive at Grey Advertising, which is one of the largest advertising agencies in the world but I wasn’t happy there. I started studying essential oils and I studied for a total of seven years. My boss had left and there was an incident with the top executive there. It was time for me to leave and launched the line. I wanted to help people by creating these natural formulas. It was a very deep desire to contribute to people in that way.
I know that a lot are in Corporate America and they’re not happy. They’re thinking about making the shift or making the jump. What would be your advice to them based upon your experience?
My main advice would be to have a strong support group, people around you that will come forward to assist you. Have a money cushion and a very strong desire to change directions.
It’s very interesting to me for you to be talking about breathing more and having that opportunity to leave Corporate America, to start something within the aromatherapy field, within mind and well-being. Did you feel like there was a point in your corporate career where you weren’t breathing as much, you are allowing the anxiety and the stress to sink in?
Not so much, even at Grey, as an executive, my life was quite balanced. It was that I didn’t feel connected to what I was doing. That was the issue. When I left and started my company, I felt emotionally attached to what I was doing.
It’s the idea that we all strive for, “Love what you do, do what you love.”
That’s correct.No matter what you do, you must come up with new ideas and concepts that are innovative, pioneer, and creative. Click To Tweet
What is it about aromatherapy that makes a difference in our daily breath, our exhales, the pattern and positive habits of deep breathing?
I have to make a confession, first of all. I’m not a great breather. It’s a problem for me. The thing with aromatherapy is that it works on many different levels. One of them is that you’re taking in an aroma. You’re breathing it in and there are associations that people may have with different aromas where scent memories are stored in the limbic part of the brain. It’s an immediate reaction that someone can have to a certain aroma. In terms of breath and aromatherapy, it’s a synergy of the benefits of breathing along with the benefits of aromatherapy. Meaning, inhaling a natural aroma that comes from plants.
Vali and I met at the Spa & Resorts Show at the Javits Center. I was speaking and she was a vendor. There were all these different vendors and I also had a booth. I was very young at my business at that point. I had a strategic marketing and design PR agency. Vali was the first person that I met at that show and she was the only person that I walked away with where I said, “I want to work with her. I want to be great enough to be able to work with Essence of Vali.” Lo and behold, we did some great co-marketing campaigns after the show. We ended up working together for several years. One of the coolest things that I learned from you is that the Essence of Vali and the idea of aromatherapy, in general, what you should be looking for is the plant extracts. It’s important to tell them the difference between synthetic, what it is that you’re putting out there in the world from your award-winning blend of sleep, to balance and all the different blends that you have. Tell them a little bit about the difference because it’s important to know.
The essential oil is a liquid that has been extracted from parts of the plant. It’s not oily, it’s liquidity. When you peel an orange, sometimes you see that spray that comes out, that is the essential oil of orange. It’s the essence of the plant. It’s the sweat of the plant. There are distilleries all over the world that distill, pull that essence from these different parts of the plant and it’s quite fascinating. Rose petals have to be distilled a certain way using certain fats because to steam distill them, they’re too fragile. That’s why essential oils of rose are very expensive, same with jasmine and orange blossom. That’s a warning bell that if people see that everything is priced the same when it comes to essential oils, there’s something wrong. It takes varying amount of work, plant material depending upon the plant and which part to do a distillation. That is true essential oils, distilled from different parts of the plant. On the other side, you have synthetic fragrance, which is made in the lab. The only benefit of it is perhaps that it smells nice but it doesn’t have the complex chemistry, which gives it its healing benefits. It’s a smell. Same with perfume, it’s a smell, a fragrance. Essential oils versus fragrance are two different things.
We just got an MBA in the essential oil. I feel like a lot of us don’t even know that. Everyone is pushing something in the health and wellness fields. You said that you were one of the first aromatherapists. When did you begin your venture?
I began my venture many years ago and I left my corporate career when I was 48. That’s another message to people that it’s never too late to change directions. That’s when I started studying. I was into natural healing starting from the age of 30. I was drinking wheatgrass juice, which was very hard to find, Bach flower essences and homeopathy and all these things that have now become very popular.
Since you were one of the first aromatherapists, we’re talking about vulnerability and overcoming obstacles, talk to me about when you started years ago. What were some of the obstacles that you faced launching an aromatherapy brand back then and how did you overcome them?
I had never been an entrepreneur before so it was all very new to me. In the beginning, it was very exciting. There was so much synchronicity and amazing things that happened. I did trade shows and I got some great accounts. Things were rocking and rolling, in the beginning. It was the years went on, that it became more challenging. When there was the whole financial crisis in 2008 and my sales dropped significantly. I was taken for quite a bit of money by a con artist. There were some bad decisions that I made that weren’t so great. I fell in a way from grace. Things had been humming along. It became very challenging and then companies started copying me. There’s a very big company that copied me and there are other companies. There are a lot of sleep blends on the market now but mine was the first. That was difficult and I had to not worry about it and focus on what I needed to do for my company. The constant challenge is marketing, the selling, the competition, the right packaging, the right names for things, being adept with social media when it’s not in my generation. That’s pretty much it. Nothing except the con man was brutal.
As far as those that were copying you, I love the quote that they say, “Imitation is the greatest form of flattery.” Being one of the first, you’re one of the best. Is there an interesting story you can tell us about a blend? Maybe a funny story where you can be honest with us about where there was a fall, a mistake or let’s say a blend you wanted to create but the scent was never right. Did you sit there and try and then you were like, “This doesn’t work,” or did all of your blends just turn out okay?
Most of them turned out okay. My masterpiece blend, which I consider to be the EOV Perfume, happened in a very miraculous way. Then I sat down several years ago and I thought I need to add some more perfumes instead of one. I couldn’t get one that I loved so I put it on the shelf. I can tell you that the blends I have all came pretty easily to me. There were blends that I tried to make and I couldn’t get them right. That was the case with the other perfume.Every night is a struggle for people with sleep issues. Click To Tweet
It can be said that when we’re on that search for perfectionism, we forget that sometimes it’s already within us. Vali’s EOV perfume, once I experienced it and wore it, and this is going for almost ten years, I wear it all the time and I haven’t bought anything other than that. She said, “Elizabeth, I’m not going to do it anymore,” and I freaked out. I think your entire audience was freaking out. She has some more going on. Since our topic is about breath, I will say that it is the nicest smell. Sometimes you get in an elevator with some people and they have such a strong fragrance, which we discussed. Fragrance versus the juice of the plant or essential oil, it is too strong. You’ve done well with the EOV and I’m glad that you tried the other one because trying is awesome but it was already perfect to begin with.
You’re talking about EOV but I know that one of your most popular products is the blend Sleep. It’s award-winning across the globe. Tell me how you came up with this blend and what was the purpose behind it?
I came up with it in my aromatherapy class as a relaxation blend. When I started seeing individual clients, that’s when I learned that a lot of people have sleep issues. I didn’t know that before. I’m a good sleeper, mostly. I was amazed at the number of people that every night it’s a struggle for them. I refined that calming blend into the sleep blend and there’s a rationale behind it. When we make blends in aromatherapy, we’re creating a synergy. I have lavender and ylang-ylang in it because they’re very relaxing in the central nervous system. I have marjoram because it’s good for anxiety and cedar wood because it’s very grounding. There are certain amounts that I use with each one to create a nice aroma as well as an effective formula.
You’re helping people across the world to sleep. If we are talking about breath, you’re learning how to breathe deep and relax during those times. Your honesty before was so valiant to say that you are an aromatherapist and you have to learn how to breathe daily. It’s an honest thing for all of us. All of us are leaders at the top, whether you’re an executive or an entrepreneur, we all have to take the time to breathe. In my latest book, The Kind of Communicator, in every chapter I ask my readers. In fact, in all of the upcoming books, I ask my readers to inhale and exhale with me throughout the book so that we make it a positive habit to bring from the pages into our lives. You’re such an inspiration, Vali. People often say, “Don’t give up too soon.” What was your, “I’m not giving up moment?”
I went through a rough patch and I felt giving everything up. I didn’t have the energy anymore to move my business along. My business had fallen off quite a bit as well and I was dealing with a lot of things outside of the office. Then I created a new product with a friend and I got my enthusiasm back. It’s a product that helps women. It’s a feminine moisturizer. It doesn’t even have essential oils in it. Also, working with my friend, I was accountable to her. I had to show up for her. I had to be a leader because she had never created a product before. It gave me purpose again. It got me back on track and then all the other parts of my business picked up as well. It was something new that got me moving again and inspired.
We all have to discover and rediscover our purpose over and over again in life. There’s never one shot. It’s always an uphill battle and then a downhill slope. You had mentioned the word leader. You felt like a leader again. As a leader in business and in the aromatherapy field, how would you describe leadership?
Leadership in that area is innovative products so that you’re a pioneer when it comes to the types of products that you’re creating. I work with spas and I work with hotels. Another area would be me, creating different rituals that the spa then brings into a massage program. It’s being innovative, being a pioneer, being creative and coming up with new ideas and concepts no matter what you do. Originality and creativity are very important.
This brings up something so important, it’s the idea of innovation. No matter how rich we are or successful, no matter how happy we look on social media, no matter what we have, we are constantly called to innovate and reflect in this beautiful cycle. What happens when we don’t, it’s when we feel like we might be able to give up. We might throw in the towel. It’s that innovation, that creation that gets our mojo rising. Like you were saying, you got your mojo back when something new came up. It’s such an imperial thought for all of us out there, whether we’re going through a rough time or a good time. We consistently have to remember to breathe and to quiet ourselves at the moment and find the gratitude. What is your gratitude moment in just doing what it is that you do in life and business?
First of all, I have such amazing people around me. That’s one of my biggest gratitude. My community of people is just extraordinary. My gratitude is also for the tools that I have inside about my actions and my reactions to power myself when I have to. I’m very grateful for knowing that I am not a victim. I have the ability to empower myself at any time. I have gratitude that all of these years, I’ve had this beautiful company that is creating products that help people, that people use every day as part of their self-care. I feel so lucky to have been able to do that.Essential oils and fragrance are two very different things. Click To Tweet
I feel lucky to have had worked with you, to build websites for you and had helped you with your marketing at some of those great times in your career. I do remember there were a lot of great testimonials that we had when we were working together on your websites. I love this idea because oftentimes, we forget to ask for testimonials and we forget to give them too. We often don’t know how much of a positive impact we are to our friends, our colleagues or the people like yourself, whom we use their products, we love their products and their products change our lives. If you’re reading this, recognize that there’s a world of gratitude out there and we can all participate. We can all be more proactive, we can all breathe easier, when we know that we’ve done well, helped someone or perhaps share of ourselves in a positive way.
What are some of the best success stories over the years that you can share with us that have made a difference in your heart and your mind in doing what it is that you love and loving what you do? I remember from your website, there was a guy with back pain and then there was PMS. There were all these different types of testimonials. The cool thing to me was that when one thinks of aromatherapy, they think it’s something that smells nice. The biggest impact that you made on me as an entrepreneur and as a leader in your field was that there is that big difference between synthetic, scent and the essential oil, which is what you do, the healing process. I know that you’ve helped so many people heal based upon putting your products and blends out there. What’s your favorite testimonial or rave review of someone that you helped?
I have one that stands out in my mind and she’s a woman who lives out on Long Island. She has chronic pain and she cannot take pain killers. She uses our relief massage and bath oil and she relies on it. It is her go-to when her pain is very active. She uses it on her back, her knees, wherever she has pain and she said it immediately works for her. That is so beautiful to think that here’s this woman, she’s older, she’s in a lot of pain, she rubs our oil on the areas that are inflamed and she has no pain.
I’ll add on to that success story. I remember I was in Tuscany for two weeks. I came back and I started to get into my yoga practice, which is Ashtanga. It’s a very deep yoga practice and I do pushups between every up and down dog. I remember the first time that I did my yoga after two weeks of being away in Tuscany relaxing, my shoulders had the biggest knots. I had your relief balm and I put it on my shoulders. Within twenty minutes, my knots were out and I was just amazed. I had been working with you for several years. I know I called you and told you about it. I texted you. This is what we’re talking about going beyond, embracing the art of leadership, self-love, doing what it is that you need to do and making a difference in life, being of service. You’re one of the people that helps other people become stress-free, become anxiety-free and get a better night sleep. How do you get rid of your stress?
I did the best that I can, but I tend to be an anxious person. It’s something that I have to manage. I exercise three times a week. I try to take baths as much as possible and get a good night’s sleep. I stay on a good routine and eat a healthy diet. I take a ton of supplements. I went to take an exercise class for people 50-plus. It’s great because there were only a few people in the class and that’s the way he keeps it. That felt good. Exercise is critical. I like restorative yoga. I incorporate self-care into my daily life. Even things like using beautiful soaps, nice creams, the shower and taking care of my skin, all those lovely sensual self-care things. I’m using my oil instead of lotions. I have diffusers at home. I have a couple of diffusers, one in my kitchen, one in my living room. Every day we can incorporate self-care, buying yourself flowers, making yourself a beautiful salad, eating a healthy diet and drinking water.
You’re making all of us envious of your lifestyle. I love it. We all want to hang out with you. Vali, let’s have a little fun. What is the name of the song that would be the soundtrack of your life?
She ran into the water, got knocked down, got right back up and ran right back in. It’s something I did when I was a little girl. My father used to tell me that story, maybe it would be something like that. The waves came along, knocked her over, defiantly and triumphantly she ran right back in.
That’s the soundtrack of your life. I’m listening to it. I’m tuning in and I hope you are too, OnBeyonders. I wanted to mention that Vali just produced a song and created a new music video for women who have survived sexual misconduct. In case our audience is interested in learning about your vision and becoming inspired by what you’re putting out there to share with this world, in one brief description, tell us what you’ve done to empower women.
I told these women that I believed them.
She’s talking about the women who were being told that no one believes them, when they were talking about being raped or having some sexual misconduct. Is that correct?
That’s correct and men as well.
Yes, there are a lot of men out there who are experiencing that as well. Vali, what’s the name of your song and your music video?
The name of the song is, I Believe You and the name of the video is I Believe You, For Survivors.
Where can they find this?
They can go on YouTube because we’ve posted the music video. If they search for I Believe You by Valerie Bennis, it will come up.
Vali, thank you so much for being a beautiful guest. You’ve met the Valerie Bennis of Essence of Vali as we went Beyond Ego. Take the time to love yourself and to breathe. Practice the art of self-love. If you’re looking to go beyond and perhaps need a little bit of assistance, professional, personal development coach or consultant, visit my website, www.ElizabethBarryConsulting.com. You can follow me on LinkedIn for tips on living life fulfilled. Don’t forget to join our Beyond Ego Facebook Group. Mention this and share your thoughts with Vali. Tell us that you’re breathing too to become a happier and healthier adult because that is Vali’s inspiration. Vali, thank you so much for being my special guest. To my OnBeyonders, until next time. Let’s go beyond.
- Essence of Vali
- The Kind Communicator
- Grey Advertising
- Spa & Resorts Show
- EOV Perfume
- I Believe You, For Survivors
- BeyondEgo – Facebook page
- LinkedIn – Elizabeth Barry
About Valerie Bennis
Valerie Bennis is the founder and president of Essence of Vali. Creating blends that smell beautiful and are used in a sensual and healing way are a creative expression of who she is. From an early age, Vali loved self-care and taking care of others. In her thirties, she became interested in holistic healing and studied therapeutic touch, Reiki, nutrition, herbs, detox programs, homeopathy, Bach flower remedies, juicing, fasting, and aromatherapy. She loved tinkering at home, making therapeutic formulas as well as creating recipes for her beauty regime. Vali continued her career in the corporate world and evenings and weekends, continued her other life as an alchemist of sorts. In 2000, she left her corporate life and launched the Essence of Vali line of products. Beyond the products, she loves inspiring people to love themselves, age gracefully and experience a whole new way of life. Vali believes in challenging your mind, honoring your body and celebrating your spirit.