Co-founder and director, Nicola Elliott, spent 10 years as a journalist before launching Neom with business partner, Oliver Mennell, in 2005. Her brand sits in households across the globe, is stocked by major retailers and reigns popular. We find out her secrets to success.
Can you tell us a little bit about Neom – when and why the company began, what makes the products so special and where Neom is stocked?
Back when I was working as a magazine journalist, I was working crazy 60-hour weeks and often weekends on top. Although it was fun, it was intense and non-stop. I really started to struggle with everything. My moods were all over the place and the fast-paced life really took its toll. I was feeling constantly anxious and stressed.
And it wasn’t just me. I was surrounded by women who felt the same – they were either having problems with lack of energy or sleeping badly, or were just generally in need of a mood boost. I had started training as an aromatherapist and nutritionist after work, so I started creating little essential oil blends and tinctures for them. It was really obvious to me from the beginning that my products had to be 100% natural and, where possible, organic to actually work. It’s all about the purity of the essential oils, the complexity of the blends and the highest level of inclusion.
At the same time, my sister was having trouble sleeping. She is a staunch ‘greeny’ and was working for Friends Of The Earth – she only ever uses organic products. So I made her a blend and called it ‘Tranquillity’ and it really helped her. My next lightbulb moment was when I was looking for some organic pampering gifts, again for my very green-minded but glamorous sister. Eleven years ago, what was available to buy in the shops was pretty uninspiring. I had to either choose something glam that was full of synthetic chemicals or head to a health food shop, buy something with great organic credentials but stuffed in a brown paper bag!
To crack the market, I realised my essential oil blends had to look good as well as do good. So my business partner Oliver and I started with just five candles; the first candles on the market to be made only with 100% natural wax and pure essential oils. Now we are stocked in both bricks-and-mortar and online – we have a store in Wimbledon village, one about to open in Leeds, plus are stocked in independent boutiques nationwide, as well as department stores such as John Lewis and Selfridges. And online we have our own e-commerce site as well as fantastic support from some of the biggest e-tailers.
Fragrance is a staple in many people’s homes and lives – how do you go about building your scents and then convincing people to buy an organic scent instead of the synthetic, chemical-filled versions?
The synthetics used in conventional beauty products can be seriously harmful to our skin. We are using far too many chemicals on our bodies and in our homes, and latest figures suggest women are putting approximately 250 chemicals on their skin every day! Organic skincare can be amazingly nourishing for the skin and organic scenting is so much healthier for your lungs… it’s a no-brainer for me.
Neom is the only brand dedicated to creating products that are 100% natural with true well-being benefits too: to relieve stress, calm and relax, aid sleep, boost your energy or lift your mood. We use only the highest possible percentage of the purest possible essential oils, which not only smell wonderful but also have true therapeutic benefits for the mind and body, helping to transform the way you feel.
I started Neom with a real belief that everyone deserves to take little moments in their life for their own well-being… and if we can help “supercharge” those moments, i.e the bath that works twice as hard to relax you… well, that’s what we’re here to do!
How would you define the Neom brand identity and ‘voice’ – and how did you go about building this?
I started Neom with a real belief that everyone deserves to take little moments in their life for their own well-being… and if we can help “supercharge” those moments, i.e the bath that works twice as hard to relax you, the shower that helps kick ass at 6am by giving you a boost of energy… well, that’s what we’re here to do!
It would be great to be able to do two hours of yoga every morning and spend our evenings soaking almonds but realistically, we are busy working women who are continuously multi-tasking and any spare time should be savoured for ourselves. A relaxing bath with the Neom Tranquillity candle and Tranquillity bath foam can get you to that well-being mindset you need after a busy day juggling your kids, job and relationship.
Top department stores and websites are now stocking Neom products – who have you approached, how have you convinced them into stocking Neom, and what have the biggest challenges been?
We are very fortunate to be stocked in the UK’s top department stores, five-star spas, as well as our own store in Wimbledon, and soon Leeds. We are also very excited to be opening the first Neom concession in Belfast towards the end of the year. It is really important that each of our retail spaces are a physical representation of Neom well-being, in which we can offer all-encompassing and practical advice to our customers. We are always looking for new opportunities that allow us to do just this. Many department stores don’t have a dedicated well-being department so the challenge often lies in negotiating where we sit within the store. Neom has a real USP in that it is the only brand dedicated to creating products that are 100% natural with true well-being benefits, that help transform the way you feel. As long as we can truly communicate this to our customers, we are happy!
You have to make your customer “believe”! Our products don’t just smell and look nice, they deliver true therapeutic benefits, so for us it’s about communicating the ‘why’ and the ‘how’, and explaining the reasons for why our products aren’t substitutable.
What is your greatest advice for brands looking to get people to buy a good-for-you version of a familiar product?
You have to make your customer “believe”! Our products don’t just smell and look nice, they deliver true therapeutic benefits, so for us it’s about communicating the ‘why’ and the ‘how’, and explaining the reasons for why our products aren’t substitutable. As well as this, we offer well-being support and advice that responds to our customers well-being needs, so customers fully understand how our products can fit in with their everyday lives.