We sat down with our dear friend, mentor, educator and author Pat Princi Jones to discuss how essential oils fundamentally changed the course of her life and led her to become one of Australia's leading experts in aromatherapy.
Make yourself a cuppa, turn on the diffuser and settle in for her inspirational story which is bound to make you fall in love with essential oils all over again!
What made you first fall in love with essential oils?
It all started with a trip to Bali some 30 years ago and the intoxicating perfume of Jasmine oil. I knew nothing about aromatherapy at the time, in fact I had never heard the term before. Yet it was at that island holiday I discovered the beauty of scent and experienced the healing possible with pure essential oils. Whether it was the delicate notes of Roman Chamomile, the sensual fragrance of Ylang Ylang or the earthy aroma of Vetiver, something alchemical took place that was to change the course of my life forever.
You started your career as a high school teacher, how did you make the transition into aromatherapy?
I spent many happy years teaching high school English in Sydney before moving to Melbourne to work for In Essence Aromatherapy as the Head of Education. After Bali however, the lure of essential oils proved too strong that I eventually left my chosen career to follow my heart and pursue the scent trail.
Looking back, I realise it was a seamless transition from teaching Shakespeare to extolling the virtues of Basil oil. The subject matter and the students had changed, but the skills and passion for empowering individuals with knowledge, never wavered. I have always wanted to be a teacher, irrespective of the subject matter. It’s in my bones and I feel most myself when I am engaged in learning.
You are highly regarded in the aromatherapy community as an educator and an advocate for the highest essential oil quality and safety standards. Tell us more about why you’re so passionate about this area.
After 30 years in the industry, I understand the importance of purity and safety.
Firstly, you can only reap the full benefits of essential oil therapy if you use authentic essential oils; oils that comprise the sum total of the plant’s natural ingredients! There is no compromise. Synthetic oils are fragrant copies, prepared in a laboratory to duplicate an oil’s most fragrant compounds. They are clones which might smell nice but do not possess the unique therapeutic benefits of a pure essential oil. There are so many essential oil brands out there, you really need to know and trust your supplier.
Secondly, essential oils are not simple substances, they are very potent aromatic liquids. Each oil is a complex structure made up of hundreds of different natural chemicals that must be observed. It is so important to follow the safety guidelines for each oil, especially if you are new to Aromatherapy. According to Robert Tisserand, the safety guidelines are intended to help minimise the possibility of risks while optimising the benefits. Like any manufactured medicine, essential oils can be hazardous if over used or used incorrectly. Just because an essential oil is ‘natural’, it doesn’t mean it is totally safe.
Tell us about some of your Aromatherapy career highlights
During my 30 years educating clients and customers, I have so many stories to recount.
One year I was invited as guest speaker to a charity function at the Rotary Club in Donald, South Australia. I was expecting around 30 participants. Instead, there were over 160 senior citizens all wanting an Aromatherapy hand treatment after my talk! Another year I conducted a de-stress workshop at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore for a group of highly stressed executives. And my most memorable time was when I joined the Safe Sleep Space team, and travelled the country with Australian midwives and nurses, sharing my love of essential oils and their many uses.
What have been some of the most challenging times in your aromatherapy career?
The most challenging time for me was when I first moved to Melbourne. Even though I was full of passion for my new found therapy, I was still in the learning phase and found it hard to answer all the questions participants fired at me. I was alone and had just recovered from a broken leg. I spent many nights studying and memorising all the oils and their unique odour profile. At times the learning curve felt insurmountable.
You’ve mentored many people within the Australian aromatherapy industry, including us! Tell us why this is so important to you.
The role of the teacher is not only to impart knowledge; it’s also to mentor students and in turn, the teacher is also always learning.
I remember you both so well as brand managers for In Essence and Oil Garden. You were model ‘students’ – passionate, conscientious and quick to learn. You were so dedicated and your journey, became my journey. A union that has endured to this very day. Steph, I remember working at the Essential Oil Bar making roll-ons for the DJ customer. And Phoebe, I will never forget our trip to Byron to explore organic tea tree plantations.
To witness your Aromatherapy transformation is so very rewarding for me. Your belief in essential oils and the vision to provide an edit of the finest oils at Oil in Kind, is proof of your commitment to the industry. I am not at all surprised that you have pursued a career path that promotes and honours the true art and practice of Aromatherapy. That’s my girls!
Who were the mentors and educators that you learnt from at the start of your aromatherapy career?
When I started my career in Aromatherapy it became clear that I needed to do research to progress in this newly discovered field. There was no google or online courses 30 years ago, so I had to immerse myself in material from authorities. Although it is impossible to acknowledge all the sources, the stand outs in the early phase of learning include:
The father of British Aromatherapy himself, Robert Tisserand. The most remarkable and creative delivery of Aromatherapy by Shirley Price, Julia Lawless, Marcel Lavabre, Gabriel Mojay, Suzanne Fisher-Rizzi and Valerie Ann Worwood. Their works continue to inspire me. To this very day I still draw on that learning and quote sections from their works. I also use Lora Cantele’s workbook, E Joy Bowles science summary, and of course Australia’s Aromatherapy authority Salvatore Battaglia. His works have pride of place in my library.
My wide reading never ends. There’s always a new book and author, with a varying perspective to engage with.
What was the inspiration for your book, A Scented Life?
The desire to demystify the learning and provide an accessible and beautiful rendition of Aromatherapy for the beginner, first inspired me to write, A Scented Life. I wanted to re-create the beauty and magic of Aromatherapy on the page.
What are your top tips for those wanting to start using essential oils?
Start by investing in the finest oils from a company with an established reputation in the industry.
Select a few oils based on your favourite plants and flowers in the garden. Get to know each oil and its impact on you before you blend it with another. I have a beautiful chapter In, A Scented Life dedicated to the beginner: ‘My essential oil starter kit’ was inspired to help you gain confidence and pleasure from experimenting with some of my favourite duos.
Always check the safety data before you commence use. Read the label and use as directed. And always check the expiry date on the oil to ensure freshness. Always follow the directions for use or call direct to speak with the company expert if you have any questions
What is your go-to essential oil recipe?
It’s always a struggle to answer this question as I am constantly creating recipes and experimenting with the vast array of essential oils available. And I love them all.
Ease mental fatigue and improve concentration
Add 2 drops each of basil, peppermint, lemon and spearmint plus 1 drop of cardamom (if you like a hint of spice) to the water in your DIFFUSER. I love the vibrant, minty aroma. It’s so awakening and refreshing.
Restore peace and tranquillity
Add 2 drops each of Frankincense, Sandalwood, Vetiver and Ylang Ylang, plus 4 drops of Sweet Orange to 20 ml Jojoba oil as a DAILY MOISTURISER. I love the depth and richness, yet sweet overlay of this grounding mix. Apply while your skin is dewy and moist from bathing, starting at the base of the legs and working upwards to just below the neck. It’s the ultimate relaxing and balancing act.
How has Aromatherapy changed since you started 30 years ago?
The use of plants has existed since the dawn of time. Civilizations have throughout the ages used natural essences, potions and unguents for ritual worship, healing and beauty. Today, we are no different. In fact, more than ever we long to reconnect with nature and use natural over synthetic on our body and skin. And essential oils with their capacity to heal holistically are proving more relevant than ever before. Today natural wellbeing is a growing trend worldwide. Given the disillusionment with over-the-counter medicine, essential oils offer a viable alternative. Apart from their captivating aroma, essential oils have proven healing benefit validated by modern scientific research. They are no longer only based on traditional use, but well established in the lexicon of natural health.
Pat Princi Jones’ Book, A Scented Life is the perfect toolkit for those starting out on their aromatherapy journey. Within the beautiful pages you will discover what essential oils can do for you and the many ways to blend and apply the, in to you daily life. Shop it here.