Dear Friends and Customers,
You may have noticed a lot of things shifting at Aromaleigh, with all of the product discontinuations and clearance sale. I hope I can eloquently explain the reason for these changes, and many more that we’ll be seeing throughout 2017.
2017 marks the 19th year in which Aromaleigh has been a major part of almost every day of my life. My company started off tiny- focused on all-natural products, aromatherapy remedies and fragrances, handmade soaps, skincare, and bath and body luxuries. Within two years it expanded to include mineral makeup and lip products. Two years later, my Son was born 8 weeks premature, I became a single mother, and relocated from Rochester, New York to the lowcountry of South Carolina. It was a major life change in which I discontinued most of my products in order to simplify and offer solely cosmetics.
My little company grew rapidly and I hired my first employees. Within a few years, I moved to a new location and at the peak of those crazy times I had eight full and part time employees and found myself pushing paper and printing labels more than creating. I had effectively, lost myself. I then lost my Father in 2008- suddenly and tragically, and watched my world unravel. Within two years of his passing I found myself in the throes of severe depression and leaving behind a short but explosive marriage. Two weeks later, on June 30, 2010- I surprised the indie world (and myself) by announcing that I was closing Aromaleigh.
Much transpired over the next year. I traveled to, and lived in Italy for a short while. I sold most of my possessions in search of simplicity. I hunted for serenity but came up empty handed. I had no plans to reopen or pass on the Aromaleigh torch to anyone else, but life's necessities dictated that's what I had to do.
Aromaleigh reopened after much ado, in October of 2011, with me in the background, formulating products and doing creative direction. Not long after, I found myself relocated to Greenville, SC. Far from the coast, near the mountains and closer to nature, I personally found peace and quiet, but for Aromaleigh It was a time of chaotic limbo. Eventually, everything came about full circle. Within two years, I was back in full control of my small company, but I knew in my heart that I never wanted things to grow exponentially out of control again.
I opted for a small is beautiful approach, and with only part time assistance with customer service, I chose to go backwards to that point in time where my hands touched every jar. Ever order, every envelope, every sticker. Every aspect was handled by me.
Something wonderful had indeed happened. I had new-found hope, and also a longing for the Aromaleigh I had started way back in 1998. Products that were inspired by my passions and the spirit that moved me. Products that had purpose, utility and beauty. A timelessness of sorts. I miss making salves and ointments. I miss making soaps and beautiful perfumes. This is one of the many reasons why I’ve discontinued so many items, in favor of streamlining my catalog. This is why I no longer have interest in fandom-themed items. They feel… insincere and lost to me... and the indie market is saturated with them. I once enjoyed them, but It’s truly time to move on- in terms of moving back to my roots and the inspiration and energy I derive from the natural world. From the things that fascinate and move me. History, mythology, science, alchemy, nature and heck, even chickens.
Some of you may know that last year, I threw abandon to the wind and bought a small piece of land in the Blue Ridge foothills of Upstate SC. Sustainability, green living and permaculture is a major interest of mine. We moved an energy efficient mobile home onto the land, had a 350 foot well dug, positioned a 12x24 insulated outbuilding beneath some cypress trees for Aromaleigh, which is affectionately known as the “sparkle shack”, and we started a small farmstead. My son Connor and I began with 15 chickens, 5 Kunekune pigs, and my love of gardening. Over the last year, we’ve worked passionately to establish our farm. I’ve never physically worked so hard in my life, but I’ve also never been so happy and full of immense joy for each coming day. This happiness has overflowed into Aromaleigh and the creative direction I've begun moving towards.
Our sustainable small farm is now home to 15 rare Kunekune pigs, 5 even more rare Meishan pigs, Blanc de Hotot rabbits, Salmon Faverolles and Ameraucana chickens, Heritage turkeys and Japanese quail. We have a small greenhouse, an expanding mini-orchard of apples/pears/figs/pomegranates, and a large garden. In the past year, we’ve had many firsts… from being a porcine midwife and bringing tiny piglets into the world, to hatching hundreds of chicken, quail and turkey eggs. Our gardens this year brimmed with heirloom produce, and our freezer with pasture raised meats we grew from start to finish. Our lifestyle changed, our hopes and dreams changed, our health improved and, well- I changed.
I’ve continued to operate Aromaleigh amidst all of these profound shifts, and I will continue to do so into the future. But, I’ve reconnected with what feels like a more primordial version of myself… and I’m ready to move forward. Aromaleigh has been a huge part of my life for close to twenty years and I don’t see it stopping. I see it becoming a better version of itself.
I have a lot of plans for 2017, which will be a year of great transition for both myself and Aromaleigh. Cosmetics has been my main focus for most of my company’s existence, and the go-to products such as foundations, cheek products, contours and wearable eyeshadows won’t be going away.
What I will be doing less of are sparkly, special effects/flashy eyeshadows. Collections such as Fatalis and Insectarium aren't going away at this time, but I have hundreds of poorly-selling eyeshadow shades that are not standing the test of time. These can be found in my Clearance section. Very bright/vivid shades have not sold well for years- I've already begun limiting myself with these type of colors, introducing them only as special accent colors within larger collections. Anything new in super sparkly genre will be primarily on a limited basis through a new monthly feature that will start in January. What you will see more of in 2017, in addition to further streamlining of some existing collections, are go-to products such as matte and lustre finish eyeshadows, cheek colors, contour/multipurpose colors, improved and reformulated foundation toners, finishing powders, lip products, and expanded foundation color range, including a range of deeper tones.
At the same time, I’d like to start offering on occasion, some products inspired by Aromaleigh’s beginnings. Possibly a fragrance, a skincare item, ointment, or whatever strikes my fancy. Truthfully, I want to establish more daily use, work-friendly, must-have products and fewer that are ephemeral or trendy. Products may be branded under Aromaleigh and if more appropriate to their nature, my Corva Bella brand.
I hope that once the clearance items come down from the site, it becomes simpler and easier to use. That has been a top complaint from current and potential customers alike… that there’s simply too much available to even decide what one should order. I hear your pleas, and I’m working at moving the clearance merchandise at a steady pace.
Once it’s gone, I’ll be working on improving the navigation of the site and then on beginning to add some of the new products. This will all be a gradual process, so it will otherwise be business as usual, with the weekly sales continuing.
There are a few changes that have just occurred, or will soon. A customer rewards program has just been implemented, and the free shipping threshold for domestic orders is now $75 instead of $50. Shortly, I’ll be changing the free samples with order to be a little different in structure. Orders up to $25 subtotal will receive a free sample of that month’s Goddess cheek product, while orders over $25 will receive a deluxe sample size GWP of that month’s eyeshadow (more details on that to come).
This is a time a big changes, shifting perspectives and wild dreams. I can’t quite grasp all of the wondrous things that have happened over the last year, nor the direction in which they are taking me, but I know it’s all meant to be at this point in time. In the words of Emily Dickinson, “Forever is composed of nows”.
It’s up to us all to grasp the opportunity and run with it.
Thank you for being on this journey of shimmering discovery with me. I am elated to be where I am right now and eager to see where the next year leads us. I'm excited to start on new products, and I hope you love them, and the new direction Aromaleigh is going in. I hope some of these products will be pleasant and unexpected surprises!
Kristen Leigh Bell
(Below are some scenes of where my passions lie when I'm not creating for Aromaleigh--- our small farm and piggery, Corva Bella Farm) Our gardens are expanding and I hope to incorporate herbal and floral ingredients, goat's milk and honey/beeswax from mine and other local small farms- into my mix.