Watching ‘Freeze the Fear’ with Whim Hoff, I decided I would start each morning by having a cold shower.
Journalist -Julie Douglas
An East Lothian entrepreneur is backing an initiative to help business startups and SMEs succeed in the digital economy.
Geraldine McCullagh, who owns and runs Me-Time Therapies in Musselburgh, wants to see others gain access to the global marketplace by signing up to the Amazon Small Business Accelerator. The scheme has already helped more than 12,000 Scottish startups and small businesses to build digital skills during the pandemic, with more than half of these firms planning to increase
investment in digital infrastructure over the next year.
Around 3,000 Scottish SMEs now sell professionally on Amazon, with around 450 in Edinburgh generating £20m in export sales in 2020.
Geraldine is one of a number of local entrepreneurs who have agreed to share their success stories in a series of free online training sessions being organised by Enterprise Nation, in partnership with Amazon and Scottish Enterprise.
Without the support of Amazon and Scottish Development International, she believes her business – selling a range of natural body butters, balms, and self-care kits– would not have survived the pandemic.
She says: “You have nothing to lose and everything to gain from learning how to sell your products globally.
“I was able to focus on what I am good at – making products – while Amazon took on the responsibility of logistics and delivery to customers, which I’d never been able to do as well.
I also feel a deeper connection with my customers who can see from my online store that I make every one of our products by hand.”
I was featured as Meet the Maker in the Green Parent Magazine as a result of winning for the third year in a row, ‘Best Buy’ for my Vegan Body Butter.
I started Me-Time Therapies in 1996 offering Complementary therapies. Over the past 25 years, I have expanded the business by offering short 1day/2day therapy courses in Aromatherapy, Hand Reflexology, Indian head massage, and Self-Care. In the past 4 years, I have also added teaching Mindfulness classes along with adding an Eco- Beauty product range. My product range is Make your own Body butter & Lip Balm kit, Self-Care kit, Vegan Body Butter, and a selection of massage balms. I enjoy making products as combines my love of cooking, being in nature, using Aromatherapy oils, and also be eco-conscious.
MY MORNING ROUTINE
I moved house last September so my new morning routine is sitting in my conservatory on my green velvet rocking chair and admiring my flowers in my garden and listening to the birds. I am very fortunate that I can have a slow mindful start to the day. I find this helps me stay calm throughout the day which results in me getting more achieved.
MY FUTURE PLANS
As I will be celebrating 25 years in business in April 2022, I will mark this anniversary by offering different promotions with 25% off on therapies, courses, and eco-beauty products.
3 THINGS ABOUT ME-TIME THERAPIES
My brand is
1. being a heart-based business where my primary aim is to help and be of benefit to others
2. using only natural ingredients in my eco-beauty product range
3. offering ‘me-time’ by coming for therapy or on a course and also offering ‘me-time’ at home by using the Self-Care kit, Massage Balms & Body butters.
Since I have introduced living in a Mindful way, my business Me-Time Therapies has become more successful. The definition of Mindfulness is ‘being aware of what is happening as it is happening’. It is not another thing to add to our already busy day. Mindfulness is a specific way of living your life.
Unlike Meditation, I can practice Mindfulness anytime and anywhere and can apply it to any situation or task throughout my day. Meditation is setting time aside each day to sit alone for at least 20 minutes to help quieten the mind and being aware of our body sensations.
I feel Mindfulness helps me keep my full attention on the task that I am working on. I am better now at being able to focus on the task and ignore distractions around me. I feel more contented when I complete a task fully rather than switching backwards and forwards to different tasks. I find multitasking causes my mind to become too busy and results in me feeling anxious and a feeling of a sense of failure.
I also find using Mindfulness helps me overcome procrastination when I am faced with a task that is causing me to worry and stress. Previously, I would let my mind wander off into negative thinking causing more anxiety. By putting off a task, I realised I was wasting time and energy and unable to relax. I now implement Mindfulness techniques by breaking down the task into stages. I start with the most important part of the task that needs action in order for me to complete the larger overall task.
As I complete each task, I pause and congratulate myself for achieving this. This is helping replace my harsh Inner Critic voice who previously would berate me and I would have this sense of not being ‘good enough’.
At end of each day, I now reflect on the day and look back on what happened throughout the day that I was grateful for. Rick Hanson, author of the Buddha’s Brain calls this ‘taking in the good’. This helps rewire the neurons in our brains and also releases ‘feel-good’ hormones into our bodies.
This is a much better way to get off to sleep. Previously I would ruminate over something that caused me to feel stressed. This also resulted in releasing more adrenaline into my body which would further inhibit sleep.
By living in a Mindful way, I now pause when asked to do a piece of work. I check in with myself to see if the request is in alignment with my values and if it will be moving my business in the direction that I am focusing on. I can now comfortably say ‘No’ to work that moves me away from the long-term goals of my business. This also results in me having more ‘Me-Time’ as I am no longer over-stretching myself. In the past, this has caused me to feel resentful and also close to burnout.
By practising regular Mindfulness Meditation, it has helped me train my mind to be calmer. This has resulted in having moments of insight and inspiration. My most successful business projects have come to me in this way.
Since training in Mindfulness and Self Compassion, I have successfully added a product range to Me-Time Therapies. I had wanted to create and sell products for so many years but lacked belief in myself.
Mindful Living- Learn how to live in a Mindful way.
If you would like to also become more Mindful in your daily life, the next Mindfulness in Daily Life course commences on Tuesday 24th August. More information Mindfulness Course for Beginners – Being Mindful in Daily Life
When I launched my business Me-Time Therapies 24 years ago, my main offering was in-person massage and therapy treatments. For these appointments, I had developed a range of natural, sustainable massage balms to use on clients.
The rise of clean beauty
Over the years I noticed that there was a huge demand for clean, eco-friendly beauty products using natural ingredients, something I was already making on a small scale for my clients. In 2017, I refined my products and their packaging and started selling on Amazon as an additional source of income.
People really care about what what goes into their skincare products so I am completely transparent about the ingredients I use. Similarly, the packaging used for all of my ranges is reusable and eco-friendly and everything is handmade with care by myself.
My massage balm, body butter, lip balm and self care kits, all use eco-friendly and 100% natural ingredients. What sets my products apart is that, given my aromatherapy background, I can create aromatherapy blends that will help customers feel relaxed or invigorated depending on their needs.
The impact of the pandemic
The client side of the business was still my primary source of income, so when the pandemic hit last year forcing me to halt all consultations I went into panic mode. I had appointments booked in that had to be cancelled and I had to completely rethink how I was going to make an income.
I refocused my business strategy on my products and doubled down efforts online. People were becoming increasingly conscious on mindfulness during a time of isolation, and demand for products like mine increased. People were either looking for something to use themselves, or as a gift to check in with loved ones.
How I shifted to sell clean beauty online
Thanks to having established a small business Storefront on Amazon, the pivot to a more product-led business model was fairly straightforward and it became my main source of income. This meant I was already in a good place to reach new customers and fulfil orders. Amazon’s distribution network was one of the ways I could maintain sales with a good service to customers.
With Amazon handling fulfilment, it meant I was able to focus more on making the high-quality products that my customers have grown to expect. As I am the only person in the business, it is reassuring to know that this aspect of my business is in capable hands.
There were several key ways I adapted my strategy to not only sustain the income I had lost from therapies, but make my products a more prominent part of my business and continue to grow during this time:
I solidified the relationships with suppliers and placed more considered orders for materials strategic order sizes to ensure I was always properly equipped and limiting wastage.
I doubled down on production and increased the inventory held with Amazon to meet the increased demand for my products. This helped me to not only meet delivery deadlines, but also expectations of my customers.
I expanded my product ranges to cater to new customer needs. As we emerged from the first Lockdown in July 2020, and massage therapists were returning to work, I developed the Muscle Relax Balm for more professional use. Similarly, in the run-up to Christmas, I launched the Self-Care Kit which proved as a popular gift as people isolated over the festive season.
I have been featured as one of 10 Scottish-based businesses growing and surviving through the COVID-19 pandemic.
10 Scottish businesses growing through the Covid challenges
As Scotland takes its first tentative steps out of lockdown and reopens much of the economy this week, we’re taking a look at some of those who have risen to the challenge of the coronavirus and grown their businesses regardless.
These smaller Scottish firms come from a variety of sectors, but all show how innovation, determination, hard work and diversification can overcome even the most unprecedented of obstacles.
We’ve rounded up a range of entrepreneurial companies not just surviving, but thriving, through the pandemic.
Here are of course many more inspirational success stories of the last 12 months, but here’s a selection of the most interesting entrepreneurial stories we could find:
This wellness and beauty business was founded by 49 year-old Geraldine McCullagh 24 years ago.
Originally, as a massage therapist, she made her own range of balms on a small scale to use on clients. However, as McCullagh noticed the rise in demand for clean and eco-friendly beauty products, she wanted to make these products more widely available, and in 2017 started selling them online.
Me-Time Therapies’ handmade products are available through Amazon, which she believes has been imperative for growth, particularly during the pandemic.
“Last March, I was concerned that I wouldn’t be able to sustain the business as offering therapies wasn’t allowed in lockdown, but demand grew for my products online, so I was able to pivot my business and they became my main source of income.” explained McCullagh.
Her Make Your Own Body Butter and Lip Balm kits on Amazon UK became popular as a birthday gifts, or as new skills to learn in lockdown.
“In August, as therapists in the UK were allowed back to work, I added a Muscle Relaxing Massage Balm to the range, and sales are now coming back in as therapists are able open up once again in the UK,” she added.
Extract from Me Time Therapies Beauty Secrets Article
I started out offering Complementary therapies and over the years have branched out into teaching short courses in Indian head massage, Aromatherapy and Reflexology. In the past 3 years, I have trained as a Mindfulness teacher and now offering 8-week Mindfulness classes. I have also created a natural skincare range over the past 3 years .
The natural skincare products are
· Vegan Body Butter
· Relaxing Massage Balm
· Invigorating Citrus Massage Balm
· Make your own Body Butter & Lip Balm kit (Vegan)
Even though I have been in business for over 20 years, I only started to focus on my brand three years ago when I was creating my first product; Make your Own Body butter & Lip Balm kit.
By offering Wellness therapies, courses and products, my brand is about helping others and being of benefit to them by sharing my knowledge and skills.
1. An Epsom Salt bath with Neroli & Geranium Aromatherapy oils followed by lying on top of my bed with a cosy blanket and doing a Mindfulness Body Scan.
2. Getting out into nature either into my garden or a walk by the sea helps me calm down when I feel overwhelmed by my ‘To-Do List’.
3. I also use Hand Reflexology when I am feeling anxious by massaging the Diaphragm, Solar Plexus and Head reflexes. I can do this anywhere (travelling or at home) as my hands are easily accessible.
I am about to launch a Muscle Relax Massage Balm which is suitable for Body Massage, Indian head massage or for achy muscles post-exercise.
I teach a Self-Care Wellbeing Day and I am formulating a plan in how to create this as a Self-Care Kit to launch in October to sell as a Christmas gift.
THREE WAYS TO BE MORE SUSTAINABLE
1. Food – buying fresh ingredients, bulk buying nuts, pulses& rice and avoiding processed, over-packaged foods.
2. Organic gardening – having a compost bin and by avoiding pesticides it has encouraged bees & butterflies into my garden.
3. Making as many natural skincare products myself and buying natural skincare products that are free synthetic chemicals & preservatives.
With many Brits unsure on whether to book a trip abroad to their favourite destination of choice, reminiscing on the scents abroad can be a comfort for many. Speaking with Clinical Aromatherapist Geraldine McCullagh of Me-Time-Therapies, the research also looked into how scent is linked to these types of holiday memories.
“When we breathe in a scent such as a perfume or a food smell it triggers a reaction in the part of our brain (limbic system). The limbic system associates smells with emotions and memories. Our ancestors would have used scents to associate with feeling safe or in danger. If they had previously smelt food that was going off but still ate it, they would have stored this memory of being sick. The next time they smelt a similar smell of food going rancid, they knew not to eat it. Scents were extremely important to them to keep them alive.
“Breathing in a certain smell can stir up instant memories of the past holidays. The best example of this is when we smell sunscreen at home, it transports us back instantly to holidays in the sun. We usually associate the smell of sunscreen with images of ourselves lazing by the beach or pool and having fun. Another example for me is smelling cinnamon and transporting me back to the memory of eating Apple pie in America with friends”.
From the research carried out, sunscreen was a popular scent for holiday goers, with many remembering destinations such as Greece, Spain, Italy, Australia and Peru.
“In today’s society, we are using scents such as lavender oil to fragrance our bedrooms to associate with feeling relaxed. Every time we smell lavender in our bedrooms we link that to the memory of relaxing and sleep.
“Supermarkets also use memory and smell to evoke fond memories. They waft the smell of cooked chicken through the supermarket. The smells instantly connect us with a favourite Sunday lunch with the family. We then buy the cooked chicken to relive this fond memory. The smell of a dentist waiting room or hospital can trigger memories instantly of feeling anxious and afraid even if we are just accompanying a friend/family to a dentist or hospital appointment.”
So whether you’re set to stay at home in 2020, or planning on booking a holiday for 2021, take some time to reconnect with the scents that remind you of your favourite destination!
My Plastic free mission when creating the Make your own Body Butter & Lip Balm kit in 2017 was to make it as ethical as possible and to help you cut down on 1-use plastic packaging.
The kraft Cardboard Box: you can reuse it for e.g. store jewellery, hair accessories, craft accessories or Aromatherapy oils
The aluminium tins: you can reuse them when you make a new batch of Lip Balms & Body butters. You can also use them to decant sun lotion, aloe gel, after sun when going on holiday.
Bottle: the bottle is 100ml so you can reuse it for lotions to put into hand luggage/handbag to meet airport restrictions of the size of liquid bottles.
Tissue paper: you can reuse it for wrapping presents.
By learning to make your own natural skincare, you are cutting down on purchasing one-use plastic skincare containers and bottles. By following the Recipe Cards and video tutorials, you will see how easy it is to make your own natural skincare in your kitchen. You can reuse the aluminium jars provided in the kit over and over again for your Body Butters and Lip Balms.
I also teach Make Your Own Natural Skin Care Courses throughout the year to small groups who are interested in only using natural ingredients on their skin and also reducing their own plastic waste.
The group learn how to make
All the skincare products will be put into aluminium jars to take home. The group participants can then reuse the jars to more natural skincare products with the six recipes provided in the ‘Make your own skincare’ class.
In 2018, I added to the natural skincare range and now offer
I use aluminium jars for the Massage Balms and the Body butter rather than hard plastic containers or 1-use plastic skincare jars/bottles. Once the balms and body butters have been used, the aluminium containers can be washed and reused or repurposed e.g. storing seeds to sow in the garden, storing paper clips or coins.
Here is the part of the article where I am quoted on ‘how scents can affect our mood’.
Geraldine McCullagh, a registered Clinical Aromatherapist at Me-Time Therapies, commented: ‘When we breathe in a scent, it triggers a reaction in the part of our brain (limbic system) and sets off a reaction in our bodies such as feeling calm or energised. The limbic system also associates smells with emotion and memories.
‘People tend to like the fruity-floral aroma of bergamot, which can result in feeling relaxed and their spirits uplifted. Lavender reduces muscle tension, and is regularly used to aid sleep. Geranium helps us to feel emotionally balanced and helps to reduce anxiety caused by stress and overwork.
‘Citrus scents are associated with an uplifting mood. For example, orange is sometimes called “sunshine in a bottle”, due to making people feel joyful and positive. Frankincense can create a sense of peace, helping people have time to breathe and be still.’
Geraldine says to stop anxiety from escalating, we can ‘train’ ourselves each time we feel anxious. ‘We can breathe in a smell and start to associate that smell with making us feel calm,’ she adds.
I teach 1-day Aromatherapy courses throughout the year where you get to smell 15 different Aromatherapy Essential oils. I will also guide you in how to blend Aromatherapy oils and how to create blends for the scents that you love. You will make your own personalised Lip Balm, Bath Salts and Body lotion. This will give you the confidence to then create your own natural beauty products at home.
The maximum attending an Aromatherapy course is 6 people so that allows you to ask questions regarding which Aromatherapy oils would help with emotional, mental and physical health problems.
For more details of the 1-day Aromatherapy Blending course click on this link – Aromatherapy Course: How to blend Essential oils