Andrea Butje has devoted her life’s work to learning about, working with and educating others on essential oils and aromatherapy. She’s so dedicated that she owns not one, but three businesses that revolve around essential oils.
Andrea is making a name for herself in the essential oil and aromatherapy education world. I had the pleasure of talking to Andrea recently about her work. Aside from being passionate about essential oils, Andrea is warm and nurturing – this comes across even during a phone conversation. I got the feeling she is the kind of person that you could become friends with instantly! Here’s what else I learned about her.
Andrea and her partner Cindy Black founded the Finger Lakes School of Massage in Ithaca, NY in 1994. After running the school for 10 years, they sold it in 2003.
She decided to go to school to learn massage therapy after having her first massage and loving the impact of it. Andrea attended the Florida School of Massage in Gainsville. Eventually, she entered the teacher-training program.
She discovered essential oils and aromatherapy when she was running and teaching at the massage school. “I wanted to use high quality oils and the students wanted them too. I began teaching and studying aromatherapy while travelling.”
Andrea and Cindy opened Aromahead Institute in 1999 in a renovated barn for the aromatherapy classes in Ithaca, NY. Classes are currently taught in Sarasota, Florida. Starting in the summer of 2010, Aromahead Institute courses will be taught in Ithaca, Ny once again during the summer months.
I’ve been suffering from chronic insomnia for years, so I asked Andrea what her favorite essential oil for insomnia is. I assumed she would say lavender, commonly used in treating insomnia. “Roman Chamomile. Mix a few drops in a carrier oil or unscented lotion and rub on your feet, chest and upper back before bed. The oil is such a deep sedative.”
Michele – What is the starting point for someone who wants to learn about essential oils and aromatherapy at Aromahead Institute?
Andrea – We offer a free online Introduction to Essential oils class. The in-person 15 day Aromatherapy Certification Course is offered at least twice a year. Classes are 5 days a month over 3 months.
Michele – I’ve taken the free online Intro to Essential Oils course and found it to be informative and educational, but it left me wanting to learn more. What other course are offered at Aromahead Institute?
Andrea –We have advanced classes in blending, chemistry, teaching, anatomy and physiology and the business of aromatherapy.
I asked Andrea where her travels would take her this summer. “I’ll be heading to a distillery about 2 hours outside of Montreal, Canada. We’ll be visiting a group of organic farmers of conifer oils such as pine, spruce and fir. We’ve been buying high quality oils from them for years, but we’ve never met. In August, I’ll be travelling to Portugal and Spain to visit a distiller that we haven’t purchased oils from yet. I try to take 1-2 international trips a year.”
Michele – So you have the school, Aromahead Institute. You also have an online essential oil store, Aromatics International. What is the third business?
Andrea – Our third business complements the others – The International Directory of Essential Oil Distillers. (Distillerdirectory.com) The directory is the result of 15 years of gathering information from essential oil distillers. The distillers can have their own page on the directory for free. The page contains an interview, photographs, a list of the oils they produce, and stories about the distiller and their business. We charge a subscription fee ($250 annually, $50 renewal) for larger, retail aromatherapy providers. The directory currently has contact information for 42 distillers from 17 different countries.
Aromahead Institute classes are taught in a spa-like, natural setting in a purpose-built room in Andrea’s home. I wondered if it took some getting used to, having students in their home? “It‘s very natural for us to have people in our home. Classes are taught in a room that we added on to the back of the house, but we make use of the entire property. We love entertaining. We provide a beautiful spread for our students to snack on – cheese, nuts, spreads.”
Michele – Looking at the photos on the Aromahead Institute website, I was struck by how much fun it looks like the students (and instructors!) were having. It looks like they’re at a retreat, rather than taking courses. You must love what you do!
Andrea – I do love what I do. I was lucky to have known early on that I wanted to work in beautiful environments.
Michele – What is the profile of the students that typically attend classes at Aromahead Institute?
Andrea – People from all walks of life attend our classes. Many students are from the healthcare industry – Licensed Massage Therapists, Nurses, Chiropractors, and Acupuncturists. Often students attend purely for the love of learning about essential oils – with no plans for using the knowledge to further a career. Some of our students are working towards a second career – perhaps an aromatherapy or essential oil business out of their home.
If a student can’t attend classes in-person, online classes are offered. “Students all over the world take our online classes.”
Michele – Will your graduates eventually be in competition with you?
Andrea – No. Our students make products and blends and sell them on their websites. We don’t create blends – we sell the oils and the accessories needed to work with the oils. We are very supportive of our graduates. There is a graduate directory they can be listed in. In addition to creating and selling products, our graduates work in spas, consult with spas and teach. We also developed an Aromahead Forum – an online community that our graduates can be a part of. They can post photos, videos, recipes, blends and uses for essential oils.
Michele – What do you want people to know about essential oils and your businesses?
Andrea – At Aromatics International, we distribute high quality, therapeutic grade oils with no middle people. Since some essential oils are adultered, cut with synthetics, we take extra care to test our oils and be sure they are pure and of the higest quality.
Essential oils can be very effective plant medicine. We have excellent customer service. We typically try to answer emails the same day they are received. We ship products quickly.
To get the word out about the businesses, Andrea uses social media such as Twitter, blogging, YouTube and Facebook. People learn about Aromahead Institute by finding us online and by word of mouth. A common online search term is “aromatherapy education”.
You can find Andrea’s businesses online at:
For an inspiring and educational blog, check out Cindy Black’s website: Long Life, Happy Life