I think we are all looking for ways to better ourselves,, whether it is creatively, in business, or perhaps it is physically/emotionally. I know I have struggled with living a cleaner healthier life, and there are so many things I just didn’t realize I am doing are actually not the best thing for me. Giving myself a little 101 in wellness with Laura Skjelmose was just the thing I needed, and having Amy from Amy Cheshire Photography there made for the perfect collaboration. We got together to craft some super cute geometric shelves [you all know how much I love geometric shapes!], and learn about essential oils, while also getting to know one another a little bit better outside of a direct work environment. Not to mention this Social Project was a cozy morning session at my place, and if Amy wasn’t taking my photo I might have opted for sweats and a comfy sweater [maybe i’ll do a pyjama party themed episode, because let’s face it pj’s rock!]
Tell me a bit about yourselves, and don’t shy away from the details!
[Amy] My business is self named, Amy Cheshire Photography, and my story is straight and simple. I was in highschool and loved photography. That was pretty much it.
[Laura] Okay! My business is called essentially Inspired Wellness, and there are a few parts to it. On one side I represent DoTerra Essential Oils, so I teach people how to use essential oils in their home, but then I also have a creative side to my business where I am hand making these shelves that you can use to display your oils if you need to but of course can be used for whatever you like!
I love it! You both are super inspiring and I am extremely excited to have you here!
Laura, how did you get into essential oils and DoTerra?
Well my degree is actually in biology. I have a biological science degree with a minor in environmental biology, I love learning about how things work, how our bodies work, and what happens in our bodies when you add or take away certain things [like nutrients or toxins]. When I worked in the environmental biology department I worked in field studies and so I understand the WHY when it comes to eating organic foods. I know the types of things that get put on our food and if you were to stand in a field and really experience what that looks like you would turn to less toxic living. That is kind of where it all started for me, so we are talking like I graduated university in 2005, but I always strived to live as clean as possible – and it was even before this whole movement of clean living and clean eating. But it actually wasn’t until I started to have children that I reverted back to being really committed to toxic free living. When I was pregnant with my second son I suffered from really bad heartburn, and a friend of mine offered me up an oil blend to try, so I put a drop in a glass of water, took a drink, and was completely blown away that within about 20 minutes the heartburn stared feeling better. I immediately said what is this and where can I get it. That is kind of how my journey of toxic free living and “essential wellness” came to be. I met with a chiropractor in Barrie who was educating and selling these essential oils and she talked to me about the benefits [both physically and emotionally]. I started to incorporate them into my every day life and we started to really see the benefits – we weren’t getting sick as often, we were starting to notice that our general happiness had improved – and then when I found out that there was a business side to doTerra as well I thought it was the perfect opportunity and kind of brought me full circle in my health journey.
And Amy is it safe to say you knew right away you would become a wedding photographer?
I knew right away photography was something I wanted to try and pursue, that or become a Doctor. But I quickly realized after almost failing all of my sciences that maybe I shouldn’t go into the medical field. I was accepted to school for photography, and my dad owned a photo lab in the Beaches, where I ended up after I finished my schooling. Trying to figure out what to do with my degree in Photography I would often set up vignettes with props, and at the time I was really interested in food photography. What was interesting was a prof of mine always would tell me I was a portrait photography, he would say that when he looked at my work he could tell that is what I would be. But I never really believed him, because I thought the idea of taking pictures of people was daunting, but then slowly but surely as I worked for a few other photographers for big brand shoots I started to realize how tedious and dull product shots are. In an effort to change things up, my boyfriend [now husband] and I decided to move to Calgary, where I started working in a portrait studio [more specifically a kids photo studio called Kids Photo]. I was there for about 5 years, and the owner of the studio was also a wedding photographer so I got to experience a little bit of that with him and get my feet wet in the industry. For someone who had no interest in portrait photography I kind of fell in love with weddings right away. I got to be creative with the detail shots and the poses, as well as interact with my couples and be with them on their happiest day.
But wedding photography isn’t the only thing you do, correct?
I am starting to branch into more lifestyle & family photography, especially after starting a family of my own pretty recently. It just sort of aligns with what is important to me in my life right now, and it evolves the business which is always a good thing. I will also soon be starting to do some more branding photography, like headshots and so much more.
Something not many people know about me, but I actually spent my early childhood growing up in Calgary and I loved it! When did you and your husband come back this way?
We have been home for about 6 years. I started my business in Calgary, I had been running it since 2008, so I was about 3 years in when we decided to move back this way. Which is difficult of course, 3 years into a business and I had just started to really get the ball rolling with clients and inquiries, and honestly feeling like I was starting to make it. Then coming back here and having to basically start from scratch, it was kind of terrifying. Lucky for me since I grew up here I knew people from highschool who were getting married, I had even travelled back here a few times from Calgary to shoot some of those weddings, so that was a good base for me to build off of.
You have a unique story because you didn’t just buy a camera on kijiji and start shooting, you actually learned the craft in a school setting. Can you tell me a bit about what that was like?
I feel like if I could go back I would learn soooo much more then I actually did. I was in creative photography at Humber and I learned so much that I actually think is so much more valuable now then I thought it was at the time. I learned the technical reasons behind why you would shoot backlit and how you do that properly, something I find a lot of up-and-comers now might not have the skills in, they take more of a learn as you go approach. Because of my schooling I can look at a photo and tell you where the light is coming from and I could replicate that. I know a lot of self taught photographers who are phenomenal at what they do, but I loved school – I loved playing in the dark room and I just feel like it was a really valuable time for me to get to see how all of that works. I actually still even have all of the old cameras that we used to shoot with!
What is one thing that you both love about what you do?
[Amy] I love the people. Especially after having kids, I crave that interaction with adults and just being able to connect with my clients and create something for them that they are going to cherish I think is my favourite part!
[Laura] For me it’s seeing people have that “ah-ha’ moment and really understanding that they can support their health and wellness using something that is not toxic. Realizing that this isn’t just a trend, it’s a lifestyle, and that it’s actually attainable and not just overwhelming or hocus pocus. These little bottles actually contain something pretty amazing properties that can change their lives. Getting those phone calls after people have used an oil and saying “oh my gosh my baby actually slept through the night, or my child woke up with a fever and I didn’t have to give them Advil or Tylenol” – those for me are the big moments and the most rewarding part of what I do.
And Laura I have to ask, what is your favourite oil?
Oh peppermint! For sure
What would you say is the main thing that people don’t know about essential oils that you really want them to know?
I think for me it is making sure that they know if they are buying a good quality essential oil that the oils are safe. They are safe to use with babies all the way up to the elderly. They are safe to use for people who are dealing with illnesses or people who are already extremely healthy. That is the one misconception is that there is this whole stigma around natural health that if there isn’t a research paper on the product then it isn’t safe, or if you go to a health food store and an essential oil has a warning label on it then that must mean all essential oils aren’t totally good for you, and that is not the case at all!
So good to know! Okay so you obviously brought your diffuser today, which is so so great, and is that the main way to use essential oils – or you spoke earlier about putting one in your water?
Ya! So you can use essential oils generally three different ways, so first is aromatically [so the diffuser, i.e breathing in the essential oil]. When you breath in the essential oil if affects your entire body system, it goes into you brain and can start to make chemical changes there that can start to help support your mood for example, and it also triggers memories for a lot of people. When you smell something, often times you’ll say “that reminds me of Christmas” or “that reminds me of my father”. Or even sometimes it can bring up negative emotions. But also when you breath it in it can go into your lungs, and anything that goes into your lungs ends up in your bloodstream as well. So that’s the first way you can use oils, the second way is topically. Topically you can apply it to the area of concern and the essential oil can help soothe those areas, but then you can also use it on your skin [and this is my favourite way to use it with babies] but you can apply it directly to your feet – anything that goes onto your skin ends up in your bloodstream which is why it is so important to pick very clean products, especially with babies. By putting it on the bottom of your feet, you actually have the largest pores in your skin there, so it is the best way to absorb these oils – some people can even put oils on the bottom of their feet, like peppermint for example, and then start to taste them! I think topically is one of my favourite ways to use the oils because you can really target where you want the oils to go on your body. But you have to make sure you are using a carrier oil, so any vegetable based oil, to make sure that you are going to reduce the chance of skin irritation. These oils are strong, so less is always more! And then internal use is the next way you can use them. And I will warn you that you can’t simply go to the health food store and buy essential oils and use them internally, you want to make sure that they are certified pure, therapeutic grade essential oils, and DoTerra does a number of different quality tests to ensure that what is in the bottle is the only thing in the bottle. So basically you would use essential oils internally when you want a full body effect, so a lot of people with digestive issues will turn to essential oils internally because they find it works really well for that. I like to use them internally the same way I would use a supplement – so in the morning I might take some frankincense to help support healthy cellular function.
There is so much I didn’t know! So what is the one we currently have in the diffuser?
So that is peppermint and wild orange.
[Amy] It smells amazing!
[Laura] Yes, it is very uplifting. It’s my favourite to use in the morning when the kids are getting out of bed, it’s just very inviting. The peppermint is very invigorating and it helps open up the respiratory track and get lots of oxygen into your body, and the wild orange is very uplifting [I call it sunshine in a bottle because it is just so beautiful] and from the emotional standpoint it is the oil of abundance.
So selfishly I have to ask, I suffer from some pretty bad migraines, so what is the best thing to use?
The peppermint is good, DoTerra has a blend called “past tense” which is good for any kind of head tension. But the big thing for people with migraines is looking at what their triggers are.
[Amy] yes, I was just going to say that too! My husband suffers from migraines too, and the biggest thing they tell him is to keep a journal of what you eat, what you’re doing, physical activity, etc. to try and figure out what the triggers might be.
[Laura] It’s so great he is tracking his triggers – I know a lot of people who suffer from migraines who say stress is a big trigger, as well as synthetics. Synthetic fragrances are actually everywhere, it is kind of frightening. And the thing about the word “fragrance” is it is considered a proprietary term, so when a company used that word it can actually equal up to over a hundred different types of chemicals that are used to create that scent. So you don’t actually know what you are breathing in. So if for example stress is a big trigger, you can actually use essential oils that are designed to reduce stress and when you inhale them you can change your brain to help you regulate that stress.
Okay and lastly, my favourite way to close out the interview, if you could describe yourself or your business as an animal what would you be?
[Laura] So right now I am obsessed with Orca Whales, I have always been in love with animals in general, but just the intelligence and the relationships that these whales have within the species it just really shows that animals can have compassion and emotions and have a life that we might not understand but they really are so intelligent.
[Amy] That was an epic answer and now I am nervous to come up with something as incredible as that. For me as a person, this is so lame but I would honestly say a dog. I am loyal and caring, and I feel like my dog is super loyal and protective and he is just so compassionate and cuddly and sweet, that I feel like I would ideally love to be described just like that.
It was so lovely to spend the morning with these two, and of course Annie hung out with us all morning as well, not to mention my house smell incredible and clean afterwards. If you want to learn more about DoTerra Essential Oils you should definitely connect with Laura on Instagram – there is SO much information, I could not possibly fit it all into this post so I highly recommend connecting with her to get all the facts. I learned so much about how these oils are so much cleaner than other brands I have been using, and I for one cannot wait to test out the peppermint oil the next time I get a headache!
Thank you so much for following along with The Social Project. As always, I want to leave you all with a question and a challenge – who did you inspire today? Who could you inspire tomorrow? Or maybe you need the inspiring? Whichever or whatever it is get out there and create, spread some empowerment and truth around and lift each other up! You never know what might be brewing, or what magic you might create.
If you’re interested in being a part of The Social Project, please reach out to firstname.lastname@example.org. And don’t forget to follow Amy & Laura on Instagram