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Valerie Bennis: “Drink Water”

Exercise at least 3 times per week. I will share a personal story. Prior to my diagnosis of Osteoporosis when I was forty-five, I did not consistently exercise. After the diagnosis, I started a weight lifting regime. More than twenty years later, I no longer have Osteoporosis and never took pharmaceutical medication. As a part […]

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Exercise at least 3 times per week. I will share a personal story. Prior to my diagnosis of Osteoporosis when I was forty-five, I did not consistently exercise. After the diagnosis, I started a weight lifting regime. More than twenty years later, I no longer have Osteoporosis and never took pharmaceutical medication.


As a part of my series about the women in wellness, I had the pleasure of interviewing Valerie Bennis, Founder of Essence of Vali.

Valerie Bennis, the founder of Essence of Vali is an award winning aromatherapist and a pioneer in creating highly effective essential oil blends for health and wellness. She launched her line in the year 2000 in NYC after receiving two certifications with honors and completing seven years of study. Valerie has received several industry product awards and Essence of Vali has been highlighted in several books on natural healing.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Our readers would love to “get to know you” better. Can you share your “backstory” with us?

I spent most of my adult life in the corporate world carving out a successful career and working for several large companies. From the age of thirty, I became fascinated with the world of natural healing — Reiki, Therapeutic Touch, Bach Flower Remedies, Acupuncture, Herbal Medicine, Homeopathy, Essential Oils, Juicing, Fasting, Cleansing, Nutrition and Vitamins. Evenings and weekends, I studied on my own and started taking classes to learn more. At the age of forty one, I decided to focus on essential oils because I was so intrigued by the versatility and beauty of concentrated plant essences. Over the next seven years I studied — first as an apprentice and then enrolled in two certification programs, one right after the other. I started a home- based business that I worked on after hours and on weekends, creating customized blends for individual people. To this day, I have my original recipe book with each person’s name for whom the blend was created. When I was forty- eight, I left my corporate career and launched my line of products under the brand name — Essence of Vali.

Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started your career? What were the main lessons or takeaways from that story?

One of my favorite stories is when we got an order from a drug company. They wanted us to private label one of our blends to hand out at a trade show. It was the largest order we had ever received — 65,000 units of a sample size product. The irony was that they selected an energizing blend that counter acted the drug’s side effect of fatigue. We had never gotten an order anywhere near this size. It was not something we could manufacture at our aromatherapy studio in NYC. Luckily, I had used an outside company when we had an order for 5000 units we shipped to the Taj Hotel in Maldives. That was another interesting story in how we had to ship it after it was packed by Hazmat specialists because the product contained alcohol which is flammable. I was so relieved when it arrived safe and sound. I digressed and will return to the drug company story. My point is that it is always wise to be prepared for the next step of growth. One we got the order, I knew the manufacturing facility that could do it and they knew me. There was no learning curve. We had to send the raw materials to one company to make the blend and they then sent it to the other company to fill the vials and put them in little cards. It went over without a hitch. The drug company made an accounting error and sent double the money I was owed. When I called to tell them, they were very grateful that I caught that mistake, the check was voided and all was well. As I write this, I wonder if they ever used all the inventory as 65,000 units is quite a bit.

Can you share a story about the biggest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

I hired an event planner to produce a launch party for our award winning eau de parfum, EOV. Midway through working with him, I felt that something wasn’t right. I had already paid him a good amount of money. I continued to feel that something was off but ploughed ahead anyway. He had led me to believe that press people would be at the event and set it up at a restaurant in Tribeca, a fashionable part of New York City. It turned out to be a party of my friends. There were no press people, no real food, donated booze and a no show by the event planner. I felt so humiliated and ashamed that I had not listened to my gut. That is my lesson and a lesson I can share. It is best to listen to that silent voice inside that can be your best guide. He was a con man and I had been conned.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My twin brother has been a consistent mentor to me over all these years. He has been an entrepreneur since he was twenty-three years old. When I left my corporate career, he told me I should have waited until I had a large account. After he got that out of the way, he gave me the biggest gift. He had room for me at his office in the West Village, one of his employees would pack and ship orders and one of his companies would help design my booth for my first trade show. As I think back, I know how lucky I was to have him always supporting my vision of a healthier world through natural methods. It added a new element to our relationship as brother and sister. He also learned a lot from me about health and well-being.

Ok perfect. Now let’s jump to our main focus. When it comes to health and wellness, how is the work you are doing helping to make a bigger impact in the world?

When I reflect on the state of the world’s health, I see how much people suffer when they do not take care of themselves in an optimal manner. Much of what ails them can be reversed by making lifestyle changes. This is not a mystery — we see it in case after case. I have been amazed at how quickly illness can reverse when lifestyle changes are put in place.

The Essence of Vali product line addresses common conditions — sleep difficulties, overall stress, low mood and energy, hormonal issues, sinus/nasal congestion, low libido and more. We are communicating through the products another method of easing discomfort using plant essences. Essence of Vali shares Hippocrates philosophy that “the way to health is to have an aromatic bath and scented massage every day.” Our message to the world is to look to nature as a healing gift that can benefit many of our ailments and conditions in a safe and pleasant manner. That is what we hope to be communicating through the product line.

Can you share your top five “lifestyle tweaks” that you believe will help support people’s journey towards better wellbeing? Please give an example or story for each.

Exercise at least 3 times per week. I will share a personal story. Prior to my diagnosis of Osteoporosis when I was forty-five, I did not consistently exercise. After the diagnosis, I started a weight lifting regime. More than twenty years later, I no longer have Osteoporosis and never took pharmaceutical medication.

Sleep at least 7–9 hours a night. I never knew how many people had sleep difficulties until I started Essence of Vali. Our most popular product helps people sleep. The importance of restorative sleep cannot be underplayed. I suggest that people start a relaxing sleep ritual at least an hour before they get into bed — a relaxing bath, foot massage, meditation, writing in a journal — a practice that helps the body wind down. It is our right to get the rest we need and deserve and to wake up feeling refreshed and excited for a new day.

Drink Water. The rule is to divide your body weight in half and to drink that amount in ounces. Along the way, I have met so many people who barely drink one glass of water per day. I met a man many years ago who told me he was struggling with dry eye. When I asked how much water he drank, he said “very little.” I suggested that he start drinking at least seven glasses a day. He took my advice and his eyes were no longer dry.

Eat whole foods and drink unprocessed beverages. We live in a world where people eat a lot of processed foods and drink processed beverages. They are not healthy for us. It is like putting bad gasoline in a car. We are not fueling our bodies with proper nourishment. I knew a woman from my gym who had a chronic sinus infection and was constantly on antibiotics. She was getting ready to have her sinuses drained when I asked her how much cow’s milk she drank. Her reply startled me — 4 glasses a day. I asked her why and she explained she was concerned about Osteoporosis. I recommended that she switch to unsweetened almond milk. Within a week, her sinuses were clear.

Use Natural Medicine when possible. There are times when pharmaceutical medication is necessary but other times when natural medicine can be used effectively. Many years ago, my boyfriend at the time had a high fever. I applied an ice cold washcloth with peppermint essential oil to his forehead over and over to bring down his fever and ease the discomfort. I have guided people through the use of compresses with bergamot for chalazion cysts to completely resolve the issue. One of my favorites is using lavender at the dentist instead of novocaine. When I had pneumonia (along with antibiotics), I made castor oil packs with eucalyptus and took therapeutic baths with red thyme.

If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of wellness to the most amount of people, what would that be?

It would be a movement of education to teach people of all ages including children on how to take care of their mental, emotional and physical health. I would organize educators in these areas to offer programs to schools starting in junior high and continuing through college. These programs could be offered at adult and senior learning centers too. We need ongoing support and education in the area of a healthy lifestyle. I also think support groups of people who want to practice a healthy lifestyle would be very helpful.

What are your “5 Things I Wish Someone Told Me Before I Started” and why?

Hire a top notch PR firm: You can have the best product but if no one knows about it, that is an issue. You will get lost in the shuffle of other products.

Invest in a Website that communicates your brand and message: I bumbled my way through four website designers until I found one that did justice to our brand. Your website is like an advertisement and a communication to your clients and prospects. It is how you show the world who you are so it has to be A plus.

Focus on Distribution: People told me that in the beginning but as a novice I did not really understand what they were saying but I do now. The distribution of products once you have a product line is key. With social media there are so many ways to get your product out into the world.

Hire graphic designers that communicate your Brand. Packaging is crucial and it can be challenging to find someone who through graphics communicates your message. It is worth investing to insure your brand identity and story is communicated.

Take Courses and join Networking Groups: Keep educating yourself in all aspects of your business so that you keep learning and growing. Join networking business groups so you can meet other entrepreneurs to avoid feeling alone and isolated.

Sustainability, veganism, mental health and environmental changes are big topics at the moment.

Which one of these causes is dearest to you, and why?

Mental health is dearest to me. Along with physical health, mental health is a necessary part of the equation. Healthy mind, healthy body and healthy body, healthy mind. I have known people who took very good care of their physical health but struggled with depression, anxiety and other challenges. They could not be truly healthy until this area was addressed, managed and healed. I have volunteered on crisis hot lines and counseled many friends who were in distress. As a child I saw several extended family members struggle to manage depression, alcohol addiction and other mental health challenges including the suicide of my step brother when he was thirty years old. For many people, life is a daily struggle as they battle mental and emotional health challenges. It makes life painful for those that suffer and for the people who love them and feel helpless when it comes to helping them. Our mind and body are not separate and are inter-related. We cannot address one without the other.

What is the best way our readers can follow you on social media?

The best way to follow Essence of Vali on social media is on our Facebook and Instagram @essenceofvali.

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/essenceofvali

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/essenceofvali/

Thank you for these fantastic insights!

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