Have you ever wondered about the science behind different scents? Well, this is Ryan Porter, co-founder of Essentially Grounded and Aromatherapy Bar creating unique experiences with essential oils. As an aromatherapy expert, Porter guides guests on a sensory journey where they experience the benefits of essential oils that they have on the body, mind, and spirit. Her vision is to help others discover the benefits of aromatherapy and foster wellness and community through the practice of self-care.

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Alice: Record. Great. Hi everyone. I am Alice from Jubilant. Thank you so much for being here. Have you ever wondered about the science behind different scents? Well, this is Ryan Porter, co-founder of Essentially Grounded and Aromatherapy Bar creating unique experiences with essential oils. As an aromatherapy expert, Porter guides guests on a sensory journey where they experience the benefits of essential oils that they have on the body, mind, and spirit. Her vision is to help others discover the benefits of aromatherapy and foster wellness and community through the practice of self-care. Thank you so much for being on.

Ryan Porter: Thank you so much for having me. I am so happy to be connected to someone and be able to have a great conversation. Yes. Thank you.

Alice: Can you talk about your favorite scent just to kick things off.

Ryan: Yes, so I loved your questions. This got me really excited. So I would say if I had to choose one of hundreds when we are talking about essential oils. The first thing that came to mind was frankincense and it was an essential oil that I had never heard of, you know, so many essential oils come from common botanicals that people are familiar with peppermint, lavender, lemon. So when I discovered frankincense, it was not that I was instantly drawn to the aromatics. Frankincense, it is really deep. It is earthy. I think that once I learned more about the purpose behind it, how it affects us emotionally, I really started to experience that. Frankincense comes from a tree which grows in the Middle East so it is very centering. It is one of the oldest essential oils. Frankincense is a resin and it is very spiritually balancing. Just a beautifully calming, centering, grounding aromatic. So it is on the top of my list.

Alice: I really do not know what frankincense was but then I was in Morocco living there for a little bit.

Ryan: Awesome.

Alice: In the marketplace, they were selling frankincense. So I was like, “I have to buy this.” And they were like, “Oh, you bite it a little bit and you have the smell.” And so I did that and I realized that is the smell that being a Catholic, that is what made like having the incense burners. I never realized that this thing from the Middle East was what made me centered during mass. It was amazing.

Ryan: It is and it is one of the three gifts that was brought to Jesus in the story of the Bible of Jesus being born. So it is frankincense, myrrh, and gold. So it was valued as much as gold was back in that time. It was not yet an essential oil like you mentioned in the markets of Morocco. That is the resin that you put on a resin burner and you are able to smoke like almost like an incense– take the resin whereas the essential oil is like a liquid compound that is extracted through resin tapping the tree.

Alice: Oh, interesting.

Ryan: Yes. Very cool.

Alice: Can you talk about your favorite perfume? What would that scent be?

Ryan: Okay, so I loved when you brought up this topic because it is one of the things that we love doing with aromatherapy bar is being able to create a natural perfume using essential oils. So we are all about natural products going chemical-free and essential oils are such a great source for us for this and we are big fans of geranium essential oil, citrus essential oil. So a lot of these essential oils, these natural aromatics are what you commonly find in store-bought perfumes, but my favorite to blend and create my own signature scent has anything that has ylang-ylang in it. So ylang-ylang it is spelled Y-L-A-N-G. Ylang-ylang and it is from a flower and it is one of the notes in the original recipe for Chanel Number Five. So it is very popular in women’s fragrances perfumes. It is known historically as an aphrodisiac. It is a beautiful beautiful beautiful floral. So it blends well with citrus, with other earthy aromatic. So I love to concoct my own perfume using essential oils. Love ylang-ylang for that.

Alice: And what is your favorite use for an essential oil? Is it perfume? What is it?

Ryan: So when I first started using essential oils, it was more for two-folds. So there was this medicinal component to it, which is really why I sought it out to use essential oils to help support the health and wellness of my son. My young child and myself and then I quickly developed a need and a love for them, how they supported me emotionally too.

So I would say, there are incredible different uses and there are so many benefits depending on the given essential oil, but they are used medicinally. They are used for emotional support, physical support, mental support. So there is a ton of incredible ways that you can benefit from essential oils.

Alice: Wow. Where are you living now? Are you on Long Island?

Ryan: I am. So I am a Queens native. New York City native. Born in Regis, and we did a little hop over the Queens border to Long Island, and we are actually packing up our house and we are heading to Long Beach, New York. So we are moving in a month. We are very excited.

Alice: Oh my gosh, that is so quick.

Ryan: Yes. Yes, if you are going to be on Long Island, the closer you can be to the water I think is the best place you could possibly be.

Alice: That is amazing. Is that your favorite part about Long Island?

Ryan: Yes. Yes. Definitely one of being near the ocean and having that connection. I grew up close to the ocean with family living out here in Long Island. So it is a big part of my childhood. All things outdoors on Long Island. So just between kayaking and hiking, there is so much that we have in our backyards. So as much time as we can spend outside, I love being on Long Island for that purpose. Yes.

Alice: Okay, if we were to go to any restaurant in Long Island, where should we go?

Ryan: Okay, so the town that I am in now currently has a lot like a lot of other parts of Queens a lot of Italian restaurants. So you have your pick of Italian restaurants, which has a lot of good competition, but it is kind of overkill after a while. So one really amazing beautiful spot that we have because it stands alone.

It is called The Witch’s Brew and it has been around for thirty years and as a kid, we would take this what felt like this long journey out to Long Island specifically to come to The Witch’s Brew. So it is this old, really beautiful house with all this antique furniture really cool couch lounge seating. And they brew a hundred different types of coffees and teas and they have all these amazing regular desserts, vegan desserts and a lot of people do not realize that they have an incredible food menu. Beautiful salads, a lot of vegan recipes and it is just delicious. It is amazing. So if you are anywhere near Hempstead, it is in West Hempstead.

Alice: Oh, okay.

Ryan: Look it up, Witch’s Brew. It is a destination, great food. So bring some good company. My six-year-old son, it is his favorite place to go. We are going out, we are going to Witch’s Brew.

Alice: Wow, wild.

Ryan: Yes, really good.

Alice: So I imagine you have been hanging out with your son a lot during quarantine, what else have you been up to?

Ryan: Yes, so quarantine kicked off. I cannot believe it is July already. Full swing like April we were all kind of surrendered to the fact that we were homebound. So we got a puppy. I was facilitating home school, online schooling for my son. So I became somewhat of I do not want to go as far to say teacher but playing a much bigger role in my son’s education. Trying to figure out how to move our business model which was really rooted in in-person events shifting and pivoting online. So it has been a culmination of a lot of undertaking and just to keep it interesting decided to sell my house and buy a house.

Alice: Wow.

Ryan: Got like a part-time job role. So yes, it is definitely as many walks as possible. Little trips out to the beach, which is about twenty minutes from us now and lots of bike rides. Lots of long walks. Lots of cooking.

Alice: Nice.

Ryan: Yes.

Alice: Well, it is good your family is all together during this time.

Ryan: Yes, very blessed.

Alice: And getting closer to the beach.

Ryan: Yes. Yes, now I beat the four black two-minute walk from the beach.

Alice: Oh my gosh and I love that smell of the ocean. I wish you could just bottle that up into an essential oil.

Ryan: Agreed. Yes, water air, it is so good for your soul.

Alice: So nice. Can you talk about when you started to fall in love with essential oils?

Ryan: Sure. Yes. So it is funny like so many things in our life once they became become such an integral part of our lives, they feel like they have been here forever. Looking back, my son is six. He was about a year. I always need benchmarkers for where I am in my journey. So yes, he was about a year. So it is like five years ago and I instantly fell in love with them.

Somebody introduced them to me. I had never even heard. Well, I had come across an essential oil. I had found this really cool apothecary like store up on Cape Cod where my dad lives and I walked in and I was immediately drawn to all the little bottles and the tinctures and the aromatics. Unfortunately, the gentleman was not very helpful or engaging and I left with a bottle of lavender essential oil and I did not know what to do with it. I had no background as to what this was even and I think I attempted to put a few drops on my pillowcase and that bottle eventually found its way into the trash.

So when a friend gave them to me with some instructions, this is a diffuser that I have behind me. So it is a cold water diffuser. She gave me the diffuser. She gave me a couple of essential oils. We actually made a chest salve together, and I just instantly started a relationship with essential oils. And it took me on a path where I wanted to learn more and understand as much as I possibly could. So it was like an instant falling in love with and seeking out as much as I possibly can.

Alice: And you went to school for aromatherapy in the city as well, right?

Ryan: Yes, so I would say it might have been a year, year and a half into my journey. I had a great community of women that I tapped into. There is so much great literature. You can go to your local library. You can order books on Amazon. There is no shortage of knowledge out there. There are too many really well-read and established people in the industry not to get a book as opposed to just digging around and doing Google search because it can get very confusing.

So I highly recommend a good book and yes, I learned so much from reading but I really wanted to start this part of my journey where I could take it to the next level. And go from sharing with friends and family, cultivating my own practice to being able to create a business for myself. So I found the New York Institute of Aromatherapy. I really wanted to do something in person. So I was super grateful that I lived close enough to Manhattan. So Amy Gappler, who is twenty-plus years in the aromatherapy industry, owns and runs the school and she was doing an in-person forty-hour intensive at the New York City Institute of Aromatherapy down in the East Village and it was amazing.

Alice: That is so cool. Can you talk about moving that that knowledge to starting your own business? You said you wanted to start something and you have Essentially Grounded now, what is it?

Ryan: So Essentially Grounded I started about the same time that I came out of New York City Institute of Aromatherapy. Essentially, I took from essential oils and grounded, I took from really this desire and this need of this particular use for essential oils for me. It was all about being grounded emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. So I created it as a platform to be able to connect with other women and really educate and share what I was doing with essential oils, how I was using them, the products I was creating, all the different uses and purposes for them. So that is where essentially grounded started and it has grown into.

I do endorse and use a particular line of essential oils. It is what I love and trust in terms of farming and purity. So I have a collection of essential oils that I created an online essential oil and self-care course for. So for the cost of the oils and then this online course that comes to you through emails with great videos, a ton of recipes, and guidance because that was really the basis of Essentially Grounded. I had this inherent draw to essential oils and aromatherapy. It did not make me uneasy when I was using them and I found that a lot of women loved the idea of essential oils, but really got caught up in “I just do not know where to begin.” Or analysis paralysis like too much information if they sought it out, it was intimidating. And I just really had such an easy time using essential oils. I never was intimidated, I was not scared. I just really loved them from the jump and using them. So I learned a lot by trial and error and eventually got like a good foundation of education. So I just wanted a place for people to be able to connect to and understand better what using essential oils is really all about. So that is Essentially Grounded.

Alice: Yes. Thank you. And I know like during COVID, it is so stressful. Life is so crazy right now. Do you have any recommendations for women who want to get started on the essential oil journey or what is your best remedy for stress?

Ryan: Oh gosh. Okay. So the best remedy for stress is definitely being able to use an aromatic that you really are drawn to. So when you are using essential oils for emotional support, you definitely want to like the smell of them, right? Like there are essential oils that could serve different body systems and really help in particular ailments that you could be dealing with and you may not like the smell of ginger or peppermint. But if you are using it in a way that could help ease some discomfort, so be it that you do not like the smell. But when it comes to emotional support, a key component of that is that you are really drawn to this particular aromatic. So if it is lavender or if it is citrus, so that is number one. So you definitely want to like what you are smelling.

And being able to diffuse essential oils, just inhaling essential oils taking them in aromatically actually is one of the most powerful ways that we can benefit from essential oils because it does go through our nose into our olfactory and up to our brain and it affects the most ancient part of our brain. So it really has this connection to the emotional seat of our brain so it can be a very powerful tool. I love teaching how to use essential oils to help center and commas just by taking in the aromatics which lavender for example, it is known to help calm and soothe us. The aromatics of it, all the chemical constituents, breathing them in, letting them travel up to our brain. It does have a calming effect on us. It actually helps lower your heart rate.

So it is really purposeful in terms of the chemistry of the plant but then if you take it a step further and you take a positive affirmation. Speak some words that are really going to bring some positive reinforcement. So I love pairing the two together. So taking a single essential oil like lavender or a blend of different aromatics. If you want to just start with citrus oils because commonly they are very well received and some of the best benefits of citrus essential oils are that they are very uplifting emotionally supporting and just such a positive bright aromatic. So intentionally using the essential oil taking those deep breaths in, the act of those deep breaths alone to help calm our central nervous system.

Breathing in the aromatics and then having this ritual where you have a positive affirmation or a mantra that can really help you through anything that you are struggling with. This is where you can go use Google and if you are trying to break through a fear. If you are struggling in a relationship. If you need a boost of confidence. If you suffered a loss, find an affirmation that really helps to support you and take those deep breaths with your aromatic and repeat the affirmation. This is such a beautiful two-minute self-care practice that I highly recommend especially for all of us women that are juggling all the things right now. We do not give ourselves enough time outs throughout the day and this is such an easy beautiful physical, mental, spiritual practice that does not take very long.

Alice: Yes, I took Ryan’s class through a different event and that is how we were able to connect but she showed us how to do the tinting of our hands and to put it over our nose. And now I have incorporated that into my workday and it really helps to just like lift my spirits, to get me to keep working hard and to feel a little less stress. So and I love that about like you have to love the essential oil that you are using.

Ryan: Yes, and that is so awesome. I am so glad that have been able to use that.

Alice: Yes. It has been really helpful and I know you have had different events throughout the city before COVID. You started aromatherapy bar, can you talk a little bit about those events that you hosted?

Ryan: Yes. Absolutely. Thank you for asking. So yes, Aromatherapy Bar came out from a request to do a bridal shower. So Essentially Grounded was really rooted in education, and we worked a lot with like-minded practices. So yoga studios, physical therapy a lot of holistic-based practitioners that we would connect with and be able to reach their clientele and use essential oils as an accompaniment to a lot of other wellness practices.

So when somebody asked us to do a bridal shower because their daughter loved essential oils, it was really like this aha moment for us because my partner Laura and I loved being in person with women and the seriousness of talking about self-care and mental health and wellness is really important to me. And part of the importance is to not take yourself so seriously and also be able to have a lot of fun. So we loved this challenge that we were presented with like how we were going to take what we were in this very self-care lane and have a lot of fun with it?

At something like a celebratory event like a bridal shower and Aromatherapy bar was born because one of our favorite ways to use essential oils is to create a wellness roller. So you have these beautiful glass essential oil bottles with rollerballs and you take organic coconut oil or jojoba oil and you can blend different essential oils to create a synergy blend, an aromatic perfume and you use these oils topically. So they became the swag and the favor. And we were the entertainment and you know something interactive for guests to do. So we really took everybody through this sensory journey and Laura and I both have creative backgrounds that we kind of took a pause from as new moms.

And this when you love something like what we loved about the work we were doing with Essentially Grounded and essential oils, and then we got to put our party hats on. And be creative to really come up with all these cool concepts of how we can bring something original. So it started with the bridal showers and we thought like that was going to be our target and life just has an amazing way of really presenting incredible opportunities to you and it was really starting this business that we learn so much about ourselves about starting the business and in this space and this sort of like event space and learning about how to pivot like when you start with one idea and where you actually wind up, six to twelve to eighteen months from there has been really just eye-opening, exciting. So yes, so we went from bridal showers to doing high-end private parties. We collaborated with Macy’s just this past year. We started doing weddings, it took us on this incredible journey, and then we partnered with a really great company that had a huge clientele in the corporate world where they were bringing wellness services to their employees.

Alice: Amazing.

Ryan: And we came on board as their resident aromatherapist and we bring aromatherapy bars inhouse to companies that really support and care about the mental and emotional health of their employees. So we get to do like really fun creative things. So we can create an experiential, in-person engaging interactive space. So we did a sweet sixteen. If you are looking for entertainment and doing something really different that we can take you through this hands-on experience and you get to walk away with something, we can come up with a ton of different ideas.

Alice: Wow, that is so cool. I love that idea of the rollers that you use at home and so interesting that it can move and be inset in the corporate space too as a basic wellness facility. So interesting, where do you see essential oils or Essentially Grounded moving in the future? I mean right now we are in this weird time-lapse of COVID, but what do you see happening?

Ryan: So I see essential oils finding their way into everyone’s home. Right? And I really have watched that move at a really exciting rate over the last five years. I really came in at the tail end of people not knowing what essential oils were and a very small niche of people that were drawn to them to coming full force and people having a lot more open-mindedness to looking to perhaps alternatives, but also just other ways to add elements of self-care and wellness in addition to traditional medicine. So I really do see essential oils in more homes. That is where I see essential oils just growing more and more for people and for Essentially Grounded I hope that we get to play a really great integral part of how people start their journey with essential oils and get the most out of essential oils. And that was a big thing for us when we would introduce people to essential oils.

We always came across people that were excited about it. And when we put essential oils in people’s hands and we explained how we love to use them. We always had yeses and for me, if people were going to make an investment and buy essential oils. I could not let it end there. We really had to take them three steps beyond which was how to open up the bottles, how to get comfortable with essential oils, all the different ways that you could use them without getting completely overwhelmed, and abandoning this beautiful resource that you have.

Alice: Yes. Yes, awesome and just to pivot a little bit something that we always ask on this podcast is what does womanhood mean to you? And we talked a little bit about essential oils are something that you want to give to every woman and give information about but what is womanhood for you?

Ryan: That is such a great question. It is a beautiful question. Womanhood is definitely for me is strength, resilience, determination. In this journey, I am going to get emotional talking.

I had to do a lot of work on myself like starting your own business. I would say the biggest part of that was not understanding the fundamentals of business or even the product or the service that I was offering and how to price it and the marketing of it. It really had a lot more to do with me and going through a journey of having to overcome a lot of fear and just do a lot of personal work and self-growth.

To be able to show up in really brave ways and feel empowered and worthy enough to go out there and take a little piece of what I wanted and what I wanted to create and so for me, I had two really strong beautiful examples of strong really brave amazing women. I have more than two, but I am thinking about my grandmother’s but my mother is an incredible leader, you know female leader and source of strength and resiliency to me. But my grandmothers if I think of a time when women played a very different role in our society and in families and in the business world, I still in the very different lives that they lived can see how incredibly strong and the strength and the power that they brought to their lives. And so for me, yes those are my examples of womanhood and I think a big part of that and my message though, is that because I know we are so capable of strength and power and we are just awesome and can kick in the door and we can do it all.

Is this need and importance for self-care and self-love. Really just taking a moment to whatever practice that is for you sitting in silence, reading a book, taking a walk, going for a swim, a yoga class, making something healthy to eat. The list is endless for us of ways that we show up and nurture our emotional and physical health and we really need to be empowered in how we are doing that for ourselves, how we are showing up for our bodies, for our spirits with all these incredible resources that we have today, right?

But life is so busy and we are so determined in all these other areas that I find for myself, you know, it is an everyday practice and commitment that I need to make to visit this idea of how I am going to give back to myself, you know, and there are days where I do it terribly and imperfectly. There are weeks where I do it terribly and imperfectly and then I need to connect back to all the things that work for me and so self-care and that giving back to ourselves as a big big part of womanhood because we are like the nurturers for everybody else. So we have to do that for ourselves too.

Alice: Thank you so much, Ryan. That was really interesting. Like I love what you are saying about self-care and how it does not have to be perfect at all times. But you just need to really connect back to it and keep trying. Yes. Thank you. Thank you. Is there anything else that you would like to add to our listeners today?

Ryan: Oh gosh. Um, I mean right now I can kind of just speak to where I am. And I think it goes a little bit to what I was just talking about and it is like really about gentle kindness like just meeting ourselves where we are right now. This is really difficult.

And I love this analogy that we are all in the same difficult troubled waters right now. We are just in different vessels, right? So everybody’s vessel looks different right now, but it is challenging. It is a struggle and it is a mix of really great things happening because of COVID I can truly say that I would have never taken this opportunity if time had not come to a standstill to move to Long Beach and start an awesome chapter to be somewhere that is going to bring us joy and help us live this lifestyle that really feels fulfilling.

But on the other end of that, my business was really taking off and it was an incredibly exciting time for me where it was going to be successful and for me, it is not a financial loss. It is an emotional loss. I had invested a lot of blood, sweat, and tears into what we were doing. That is really difficult.

Watching my son not able to go to school and have social outlets and education. That is so important, it is a real struggle. So gentle kindness, right? Like low expectations for ourselves, for the people around us right now, but high expectations for hope being able to see beyond what is right now.

I do that by trying to stay present in the day. Not to make the list too long of all the things because there are so many unknowns and really just trying to do the best that I can on any given day and do it as kindly as I can.

Alice: Thank you so much Ryan and thank you so much for being on. I hope we can all find that kindness to ourselves and to others like you were talking about. I think that is really true with everything that is happening in the world but I am excited for you to get your move and to like live near the beach and to keep journeying with these essential oils. So thank you so much for talking to us today.

Ryan: Thank you so much for having me. It is so nice, and I really appreciate just being able to connect to another beautiful person, and thank you for indulging me that I could talk about what I love so much. I hope that there is just a little bit of value to anybody that winds up listening. So thank you so much for facilitating this and for all the work that you guys do. It is really beautiful. Thank you.

Alice: Thank you so much, Ryan. I am just going to stop the recording really fast.

About the author

Alice Cash is the Marketing Manager for Jubilance by day and an award winning Theatre Director by night.  Leading the podcast Weekly Woman, she loves her candid conversations with women from all over the world about how they live and the amazing things they are doing to make a difference. Alice is also the editor of the bi-monthly newsletter the Jubilee, a blog dedicated to the power of female wellness especially concerning menstruation.  She’s worked in France creating theatre pieces and taught drama and filmmaking to women and children in Haiti.  She graduated from Georgetown University and holds two master degrees from NYU and The New School.  Alice has traveled to  40+ countries, including Tibet.  She is a New Yorker and can often be found in Central Park, searching out the best bubble tea, or directing a play, you never know where she’ll show up. @alicesadventuresinwonderworld
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