It's time to be honest with you. A from the heart Blog Post.

I feel like I have been keeping something quiet and close to my chest and not living authentically and it’s time to share. I’ve been hiding behind my brand and not showing my face or being honest with anyone. 

When I created Elä Life a few years ago, it came out of a desire to create a range of wellness and self-care products made from pure essential oils and natural ingredients that would really benefit my customers and help them throughout their day/week/life. I’d had my homewares brand ALSO Home and my business since 2008 and it had been a tough ride for many of those years. I wanted to add to the homewares brand and it felt right to create a sister brand which could provide the finishing touches of scent and wellbeing to a home, but also benefit the ALSO Home customer for their own wellbeing. Having been a firm believer in ‘natural’ products and knowing the negative impact of synthetic fragrances and toxins in our home, I knew there was only one option for me when creating our range and that was using essential oils. It was such a fun process to create the range and I love how well received and Elä Life is.

The brand grew rapidly over the first couple of years and we have gained many many stockists around the UK who we love. Slowly consumers are getting to know about us and loving our products too.

However, last year, in amongst the craziness of running 2 brands and a wider business, the cracks started to appear for me. I’ve always felt the rollercoaster of running a business. My husband tells the story of how not long after we met, I had a doom and gloom day and told him I didn’t think my business was going to survive and that I thought I was going to lose it all. A constant fear I have carried on my shoulders for 16 years. It’s a heavy heavy burden when you are running a business as sole director and no-one to share the weight of it with. Of course, I didn’t lose my business back then, almost 10 years ago now! But that rollercoaster has stayed with me constantly and as much as I’ve learnt to weather these storms, my nervous system has had to deal with a lot. I joke about how broad my shoulders are now having carried this heavy weight on them!

So when I started Elä Life, I firmly believed and knew that these products made using pure essential oils could help my customers -  a lot of them also very busy mums, wives, business women or working women. I genuinely wanted to help them. I believed I could help them. However, over the last year, it has become very clear, I haven’t been looking after myself or helping myself.

Last year I hit many many overwhelming lows and got close to the precipice of burn-out. I’m not saying this to be dramatic. I genuinely reached my limit last year and despite many attempts to try and find better ways of working across my whole business, I knew with all my heart, something significant had to change. I had to be honest with myself and start taking care of myself. With a people pleasing personality and often leaving myself at the bottom of the pile, I had read enough books and listened to enough podcasts that told me I needed to do things differently. 

Some of you may know that my husband had an out-of-the-blue series of heart attacks just over 3 years ago aged 46. With no indicators prior to this and no high blood pressure or cholesterol, they could only put it down to stress induced. He has gone on a radical lifestyle change and admits now that this slower and easier pace is significantly better for him and I believe he is healthier for it. However it has meant sacrifice and change. I think I have carried many of the financial burdens during this time as well as carrying a great deal of angst over his health and almost waiting for it to happen again. One thing that kept ringing in my ears last year was - ‘Anna if you don’t start taking care of yourself, you are going to have your own health crisis.’

I am 50 next year and last summer it hit me that I didn’t want my next 10-15 years to look the same as the last 16 years. This high octane, pushing hard, trying to grow a brand and business to sell or retire off and the relentless pressure I was putting myself through to be better, to do better as a business but also a business woman. 

I have never felt either brands were good enough - constantly comparing myself to larger brands on the high street. This pressure pushed me to greater excellence wherever possibly, but when it was me and a small team this pressure became untenable for me. Last year I decided I didn’t want to do it like this anymore, but more importantly I couldn’t do it like this anymore.

I have to start taking care of myself and practising what I preach as a brand and business. I have to find a way of working that works for me and doesn’t cause me to hit burnt out. I have to find a slower pace that allows me to remember who I am and my creativity. 4 years ago I got close to making some valuable changes, but this was just before Covid and I didn’t feel I could pause or make changes then when we were all in survival mode! I ignored my bodies signals back then and have told many friends, I should have stopped and rested then, but I didn’t.

So now I am slowing down, pausing, possibly stopping and definitely resting. I am remembering to use my essential oil blends for how they were intended!

I still love Elä Life, I am very proud of the brand I have created and I love all the customers I have met over the years. However, if creating a wellness and self-care brand means I can’t look after myself, I am doing something very wrong. 

I’ve had to strip back overheads, staff and pressure the last few months in part due to the crazy financially unstable world we are living in, but mostly to find a way through that is more manageable for my health. Otherwise this self-care and wellness brand is completely hypocritical.

So right now, I am exploring how to run and build a wellness and self-care brand in a more genuinely authentic and holistic way that ensures neither myself or team burn out. I am going back to basics, remembering why I created the 5 essential oil blends, how they can help me heal, mend and recover and build back up from there. I am trying to learn from my own advice to customers that they must slow down, pause, rest and look after themselves. I am trying to be present, listen to my body, mind and nervous system. I am taking time to rest, recharge, start the day late, finish the day early. I am trying to spend more time with my son and husband, being available to them rather than distracted by the business. I am making positive changes and I have to make them now.