“I like that I can work at home, I like that I haven’t been buying my cleaning products for over 5 years now, I like that I have 5 or 6 different soaps in the bathroom that I’m testing, I love having customers buy my products and tell us how much they like using them and how it helped them stay away from strong chemicals, I love having repeat customers, I love that I help make spaces smell good and at the same time, not harm people, I love going online and researching about more products I can still make. I love how everyday I learn something new that I can make,” rattled off Helen Go.
It’s been 21 years since she established Escents / ĕ-scents/ Aromatherapy and she seems to be as giddy as the day she started. Her children were still small then and she wanted to put up a business which allowed her to stay at home for her family.
Her first products were colognes and perfumes, Christmas gifts for her children’s teachers. “But I decided I wanted to make soaps with natural ingredients because my daughter had sensitive skin and a form of skin asthma. It took a lot of trial and error before I could come up with products I’m happy with. Back in the early years, it was so hard to find ingredients locally. I had to have my sister send me ingredients from Canada or I buy them on my trips abroad. It helped that I have a cousin who imports some of the raw materials I needed,” she shared.
Then she got interested in aromatherapy and the benefits of essential oils. “So I made the synergy blend roll-ons which are still one of our best selling items. One of them was the BugOff mosquito repellant, but I find some people don’t like the oily feel you get, so we developed the spray and the lotion. We also have them in reed diffusers and electric diffuser drops. I blended the BugOff with lemongrass, lavender, and eucalyptus essential oils because I didn’t like the smell of citronella. This blend is really effective in repelling mosquitos and smell really good at the same time,” she described. “I’ve been making these since 1997 and is only now being made widely available by other makers because of the sudden popularity of essential oils.”
Along the way Helen realized that many of the cleaning agents we use contain harmful chemicals. Since she wanted to promote the use of chemical-free items, she came up with natural household items like all-purpose soaps, CocoClean Laundry Cream, CocoClean laundry bar soap, Toilet Fizzies, Toilet Bombs, and Roachbusters Natural Cockroach Bait.
“In the early days, people couldn’t understand why I make things. People wanted imported name brand products with ingredients that you can’t pronounce. Now that it seems like everyone is into making and selling products with essential oils, it’s easier to explain why it is so much better to use natural handmade products that only have a few basic quality ingredients that are good for the body and also the environment,” she explained.
“Before we even start marketing our products, I do a lot of research to know the properties of each of the ingredients I’m going to use. After a lot of rigorous testing in our household together with a few select family members and friends, when I’m totally happy with how well the product performs, we then design the look and packaging. A lot of my products are not readily seen in the market so we have to have labels with short but concise description, instructions on how to use, ingredients list, and precautions.”
A sister who has a graphic design business does Escents’ packaging and product designs. Her daughter, Christine who took multi-media arts designed some of the newer labels and packaging, she handles Escents’ social media accounts too. Another daughter, Diane who took legal management and creative writing in Ateneo does the write-ups. Helen’s mom and sisters keep her abreast on what’s new and send samples of products they see abroad that they believe she can make.
Helen always makes sure that every Escents item is made with the finest ingredients sourced locally and abroad but she maintains price points that keeps her products accessible to everyone. She handcrafts each product herself. “Whenever I make my products, I think positive thoughts such as wishing that people who use the products appreciate them and enjoy using them and will therefore order again,” she disclosed.
From her extensive line, the most in-demand are the Eau de Toilet toilet drops, Toilet Fizzies, Roachbusters Cockroach Bait, Magnesium Spray, BugOff Spray, Synergy Blend Roll-Ons (especially the Pick Me Up for headaches and Sleep Well to help sleep better at night), Beeswax Wood Polish, and Natural Fruit Enzyme Concentrate.
With Christmas just around the corner, demand for their products as gifts will no doubt spike. Helen said they can customize gifts and they can also prepare bundles like spa baskets.
Most recent additions to the Escents Aromatherapy line include the seasonal handmade soaps – garden herb soaps which are made using the fresh herbs grown in Helen’s garden, solid perfume in grapefruit, and pear and freesia scents, handmade natural pet shampoo bars (one is the Indian Neem and the other one is made with Madre de Cacao), and jet lag remedy water soluble diffuser drops.
Helen is currently busy concocting more products like soy wax candles with wooden wicks, play dough soaps, and beeswax food wraps . Soon she will be introducing a face serum made with pili oil, shower fizzies which can help clear a bad cold, and aromatherapy blends to prevent jetlag and motion sickness. That last item sounds perfect for me.
I am looking forward to the day when Helen realizes her dream to have a store where clients can come in to purchase bulk items and have their recycled containers refilled with Escents products. In Helen’s mind, the same store will also serve as a venue for do-it-yourself workshops. Ah, so much to watch out for!
Escents Aromatherapy products are available at Echostore, Green Company, Primeblock and 999 Shopping Mall in Binondo, and in Legaspi Market every Sunday. You may also order Escents Aromatherapy from online stores, Beauty MNL and Shopee.
Inquiries may be also be directed to their email account, firstname.lastname@example.org.