We had the good fortune of connecting with Lora Cantele and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Lora, we’d love to hear more about how you thought about starting your own business?
I started working at 12 years old and have always worked up to three jobs at a time, one of them was always a business of my own. So you could say I always had an entrepreneurial spirit. At one time I worked in the home fashion business while having an interior design business. When I became pregnant with my first child, I looked forward to my time as a mom. That was the time I was introduced to Aromatherapy by a natural perfumer I met through a mutual friend. I loved being a new mom, however I was so used to working and really missed it. I wanted to do both. I had started a gift shopping/delivery service in Chicago, but later changed the focus to selling Aromatherapy gift baskets. I started training as an aromatologist to be able to start making my own products and offering aromatherapeutic services. This allowed me the flexibility to raise my children and have my own business.
Can you give our readers an introduction to your business? Maybe you can share a bit about what you do and what sets you apart from others?
Becoming an Aromatherapist was relatively easy compared to starting the business. Don’t get me wrong, the training can be challenging as you dive deeper into this ancient art and science. Since taking the board (ARC) exam in 2004, I have continued to advance my education by attending conferences and master classes to stay current. I now have over 2000 hours of training in Aromatherapy, Aromaflexology, Herbalism, Bodycare and Nutrition. However starting the business starts with educating the public. When I became an Aromatherapist, no one really knew what Aromatherapy was or what they could expect when coming to see me professionally. I began writing articles about Aromatherapy, what to expect when seeing an Aromatherapist, and how using Aromatherapy can help to bring about good health and well-being. I also made products and sold them at craft shows and engaged in public speaking at health fairs to better educate the public. After seven years, I was starting to be taken seriously for the work I do.
In 2009, I was contacted by the largest hospice and palliative care center in the Midwest to be a part of an integrative team offering services in a pilot program at a children’s home. The children in the study were non-verbal and had life-limiting illnesses and intellectual disorders. I came on the project two months after the others, which was beneficial for the study as they were able to see how Aromatherapy enhanced the benefits of the other therapies (and had its own benefit) in improving the quality of life of the children in our care. In addition to my work with the children in the study, I also worked with children with intellectual disabilities and their families. My son has Asperger’s Syndrome, which led my husband and I to join a few parent support groups. I would speak to them about how Aromatherapy was helping my son and how it can help the anxiety and depression common to ASD households. After moving to Colorado, I continued to work in this area and have become an international lecturer on how to approach this population using Aromatherapy. This led to me being featured in the recent Netflix documentary entitled ‘(UN)WELL.’ The key is educating my audience.
My current practice is multi-faceted. I am a practitioner who specializes in working with children with special needs and their families, but I also see clients for many other issues from indigestion and anxiety to sleep concerns and wound care. I make bespoke products and offer handmade Aromatherapy products for sale during the holidays. I am an educator and I speak internationally as well as offering classes locally. As an author. I write articles for magazines, Aromatherapy journals and am a contributor to Aromatherapy books. I have co-authored a book called “The Complete Aromatherapy & Essential Oils Handbook for Everyday Wellness.” I am currently writing more books. I created a professional peer-reviewed journal called the “International Journal of Professional Holistic Aromatherapy” which is in its 10th year of publication. I offer educational vacations in Boulder for practitioners to train in specialized advanced courses taught by experts from around the world while enjoying the perks of Colorado living. More recently I started offering business to business consultations in the Aromatherapy community.
Each of these arms of my business developed from opportunities that resulted from my immersion in the aromatic community. I took a three year break from my volunteer work at the Alliance of International Aromatherapists starting in 2012. During that time, I realized that my travels afforded me opportunities that many Aromatherapists didn’t have. I pooled my resources (contacts and a small amount of funds) to develop the journal. I reached out to many of the people I met at conferences to encourage them to write for me. I assembled a remarkable team of people I consider tops in the Aromatherapy community, each with different backgrounds, to become my editorial team. I started cold-calling businesses to advertise in my journal and gain four sponsors to get it off the ground. The opportunity to work on my first book came from a recommendation from a colleague. Having taught Aromatherapy for a decade and having my practice provided me the opportunity to offer a book to the public that wasn’t all theory, but contained examples of practical use as well. Having written the book opened more doors for me. Colleagues and newly graduating students have reached out from time to time over the years for business advice. After my decision to resign from the AIA, a mentor and friend set me on a path to offer consulting services. I guess I can say that I attribute my success to being a driven woman who believes in herself and her network.
Let’s say your best friend was visiting the area and you wanted to show them the best time ever. Where would you take them? Give us a little itinerary – say it was a week long trip, where would you eat, drink, visit, hang out, etc.
I am a foodie and I love art and music. Most of my friends are outgoing creative types that enjoy conversation and good food /drink. I would take my friend to Boulder to walk along the pedestrian mall. We’d likely stop in a few shops to look at the art and jewelry. We’d visit Rebeca’s Apothecary and lunch at Rincon Argentino. I love empanadas. A walk along the creek would be nice with a visit to the Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art. We’d stop at Boulder Dushanbe Tea House to take in it’s beauty and have a cup of tea or a cocktail made with tea. Of course we’d come back on the weekend for brunch. I love the world cuisine Dushanbe offers! We’d dine at Jaipur or Oak before going to a show at the Boulder Theater. We’d have to return another day to enjoy lunch at Aloy Thai, more exploration and a show/exhibit at the Dairy Arts Center. I’d take my friend for a quieter day to Nederland to walk around and enjoy the beauty and wood-fired pizza at Crosscut Pizzeria. I imagine a culinary tour might be in order. I recently spent a glorious day food shopping (I love to cook). I started at the Pierogi Factory for lunch. They have the best pierogies, golubki and paczki with rosehip jam this Ukrainian girl has found since leaving Chicago. A stop at the Dolce Sicilia Italian Bakery for cookies! A must to bring some home for my husband. I’d stop at Edwards Meats for some Irish bangers and English chipolatas for us to cook at home during the week. From there I’d head back north with a stop at Atlas Valley Purveyors for the making for a lovely charcuterie board and cocktails. A requirement of visiting entails a visit to the Cheese Importers in Longmont! There are so many little wonders throughout this building and it is always a joy to explore it. Of course we’d leave with some cheese and macarons. The week would entail some cooking with our imported finds and local produce from Aspen Moon Farms and Hazel Dell Mushrooms. Of course, should the Farmer’s Market be happening we would have lots of local produce to choose from and enjoy. There might be a distillery crawl that includes J & L and Vapor. I’m learning of distilleries and brew houses all the time. We’d spend a day in Estes Park. I brought my sister and niece there a couple of years ago. We went horseback riding and the views were spectacular! There would also be a day (or two in Denver). The Denver Art Museum would certainly be on the list. Dining choices abound. I’d take my friend to ChoLon for happy hour and see where the rest of the day/evening takes us. A day out at the Denver Botanic Gardens seems most appropriate. We’d likely have breakfast at HashTag, set out to and Denver Aquarium and spend the rest of the day at the gardens. There’s also be a day spent closer to home, in Longmont. I really enjoy Jefe’s on Main and The Roost has lots of beers to choose from a live music. 1914 House in Niwot has outstanding food and service with a lovely outdoor patio and firepit. The town has some antique shops and boutiques to explore, and weekly outdoor concerts. New Prospect City (south Longmont) offers Urban Thai, outdoor concerts in the park and a walk through a funky little “town.’ I think anyone visiting me would be my guest at one of my all time favorite restaurants, Via Toscana in Louisville. They make an awesome Corpse Reviver and beet gnocchi with goat cheese and kale chips. They have a great happy hour menu, but all their food is great. Don’t skip on the creme brulee with hints of lavender.
Shoutout is all about shouting out others who you feel deserve additional recognition and exposure. Who would you like to shoutout?
I believe that the journey to success is met with many people who help us to achieve success. For me, I’ve always had the love and support of my husband and children. My training took me to France where I met my mentor and dear friend, Shirley Price. Shirley is a world-renowned author and educator. Not only did she provide education and encouragement, she also offered me an opportunity to expand my business, which led me to opening up a satellite school of the Penny Price Academy in Chicago, which I ran until I moved to Colorado in 2011. My journey to Colorado stemmed from previous visits for conferences held by the Alliance of International Aromatherapists of which I am a co-founder. The organization was a major part of my life (since 2006) until very recently when I resigned as Executive Director to pursue Advanced Aromatherapy course development and writing books. I have had many wonderful mentors during my career including Robert Tisserand and Jane Buckle, who always challenge and inspire me. My journey in Aromatherapy has taken me around the world for education, conferences and as a guest lecturer. I have made many friends along the way, each who have something that has shaped me along the way. It all started with an introduction by a friend to the natural perfumer, Kris Wrede who now resides in Colorado and remains a friend after 23 years.
My headshot was taken by Jeff Finkelstein/Customer Paradigm in Boulder The compilation photo Robert Rose Inc. (my book publisher) All others are my photos