I recently had the pleasure of interviewing the founder of NEOM Organics, Nicola Elliott Moss. It was one of the most inspiring and uplifting interviews I have ever done. I am in awe of the business Nicola has created, its values and how she spotted a need for wellbeing back in 2005 when hardly anyone was talking about it. I hope you enjoy the interview as much as I do.
1. Nicola, please could you start by telling us a bit about yourself
I am 41-year-old mum of two and my children are nine and eleven years old. I juggle working like every other mum I suppose. I enjoy wellbeing, reading and walking my dogs. I love my work; it is a passion that turned into a job. I have a background in celebrity journalism and my sister works for WWF; she’s one the directors there. I got into using natural products a long time ago, way before everything was even slightly cool.
I suffered from bad anxiety and used to find essential oils really helped me with that. The combination of those two things bought about NEOM Organics, because I started using more natural products and noticed the power of the oils I was blending for myself. I then went on to blend oils that would help my friends. I identified good wellbeing was through key problems that people seem to have, stress, poor sleep, not much energy and moods of ups and downs. I figured if those four things were in check then you were doing well. So, the blending of oils really started in those four areas I was continually harassed about from my friends. And so that was my passion, which turned into my business and so where I stop, and the business starts now is kind of undefinable really.
2. Can you tell me how and why you started NEOM Organics in 2005?
When I started the business, no-one was really talking about well-being. No-one was talking about naturals, and I thought we’d bitten off far too much than we could chew because I ended up having to go right back to basics. There was only me in the business and I was having to drive around to spas explaining the difference between a carrot that’s pesticide farmed and an organic one because people just didn’t get natural and didn’t get organic.
In many ways it’s so much easier for us now that people’s knowledge is raised, because I can talk about the brand. I don’t have to explain to people that not everything is natural. Things have since moved on. The wellbeing appetite for people to look after themselves better, and the knowledge of naturals and what they can do is what we mean by natural and organic - all of that has been helpful for us.
3. What does a typical day look like for you?
No two days that are the same. I work in London two days a week and I’m in Yorkshire the other three days. If I’m in London, its always different things, I might be doing a show I might be doing press, I might be meeting a major supplier, doing an influencer day - completely different things. When I’m in the office, its business as usual. My actual active role in the business is being creative director, so I’m very much involved in products and campaigns when I’m here, so bringing a product alive, developing it, how we’re going to explain it and obviously going through how its going to work, from the brief right through to the sign off- that’s kind of my role in the office- and working with the team here.
4. How has the business grown and developed?
We’ve built it brick-by-brick. There’s no shortcut and no paradigm-shifting moment. It’s a series of moments and even now its surreal to me that many the public do know NEOM Organics now. It still feels surreal because it still feels like I’m getting off the ground in my spare room. We see these brands that launch these fly-away successes from America or something and that’s one in a million. There’s so many other amazing brands built brick-by-brick and I think trust is crucial.
5. How do you incorporate wellness and sleep into your own daily routine?
I think we are sort of still running around packing school bags until about 9pm. I’ve not nailed that one! However, in the evening, I like to cook. I’ll cook something simple and healthy for the kids. After that, we’ll eat dinner, then there’s homework to be done. I always try to sit down with my husband between 9pm and 10pm and watch something together to try and destress a bit. I’m quite religious about going to bed and I love sleeping, so I’ll go up at quarter to 10, I’ll have a bath with some tranquillity oils and bath foam, then I will get into bed and read. For me that’s kind of non-negotiable as it’s important I sleep well.
6. What are your favourite products in your range?
I love the magnesium body butter.
The perfect night sleeps cleansing balm. The pod, obviously with the essential oils- I use different ones for different things. The great day glow face oil and I would say the body oil. Body oils for me are amazing. And finally, the new fragrance we do that I love which is Jasmine.
7. Can you tell us about the NEOM Organics pod?
The pod works in a really practical way. I can use it in places I wouldn’t have done before, whether it be the entrance hall, anywhere. In the evenings in the children’s rooms, I use the pod because it can turn itself off after an hour, so it’s good because the kids have got an hour and then it turns itself off. In that time, its filled the room with the right amount of oils. The pod is great for those areas where you want a scent pumping out and you don’t want to be at the side of it.
7. You were invited to 10 Downing Street for International Women’s’ Day. How was that experience and do you ever feel Imposter Syndrome?
I do not get that imposter syndrome so much. I feel I’m good at knowing what I’m good at, and what I’m not good at and I think that’s an important skill to develop in kids. If I sat and thought of all the things I’m not good at, and went through those and made myself feel bad - there’s a lot on the list. But I do know my worth on the couple of things I can do. I try and make the kids more like that as well, there’s so much emphasis on everyone being good at everything and I don’t think that’s how it should be. I’m pretty Yorkshire about these kind of things. 10 Downing Street was a nice thing to do and a brilliant box to tick, but I came there and back in the same day and worked up on the train.
8. Please could you tell us more about your new NEOM festive collection?
Christmas is an opportunity to bring a whole NEOM story to life.
I believe in precious moments of wellbeing and the magic of wellbeing being at forefront of our stores. Its essentially what we do all year round. We want to help our customers with wellbeing by using the purest possible essential oils. You can’t help someone sleep by giving them a lavender scented candle that’s made of synthetic fragrances which unfortunately you do see in so many brands. It only works when you’re using the purest essential oils and only those. That’s the real magic in many ways and that’s what we talk about all year round. At Christmas time; that’s an opportunity to kind of celebrate that.
I love being creative and we’re known for having a modern take on essential oils, whether that’s blending them in a sophisticated way, the boxes just looking beautiful, our own tone of voice- being modern and real and having the space between being aspirational and real is important to me. So, Christmas is where we can be a lot more aspirational.
We really talk to people on a friendly level; particularly at Christmas that’s where we want to make people go ‘oh that’s really useful’. I really want people to think, when buying NEOM for a gift, is to buy something that says that they’ve thought about what’s happened to them that year. I think thoughtful gifting is important.
9. How do you want to raise a confident daughter?
My daughter is already confident. You’ll never get things 100% right but I would rather she was over confident than under confident. I encourage her to be an individual and actively discourage homogenisation whether that’s looks or decisions or anything.
She’s naturally sporty, so we encourage that even though it means lots of running around. Sport has become a great focus in her life. I always say when the kids leave the house in the morning we have a three-point rule which is work hard, have fun and be kind - and if you do those three, that’s all that matters.
When they leave in the morning I say, “what’s the three things?” and they must say the three things back - and that’s to both of them. My little boy was saying he was struggling with some subjects and I was like that’s cool, that’s ok, just find your thing and don’t put too much pressure on them.
10. And finally, what is the best advice you’ve ever been given?
Our school moto was Latin and it translated to ‘do what you do’ and the fundamental thought of that is find your thing and do it well. I think it ties back to no one is good at everything and that’s fine. If you’re going to do well at something you’re going to have to work hard and put a huge number of hours into it, so inevitably that should be something you enjoy otherwise you’re just wasting your life. If its something you enjoy you will do it well.
I think we should put more emphasis on doing those things you really enjoy. I think that was the best advice I was given because I’ve constructed a career that isn’t in the careers office, but plays to my skills. I think stay humble, life is short, I believe in karma. That not me being soft, I’m a tough person, and I think you do the right thing by people.
Visit the NEOM Organics Christmas Shop at https://www.neomorganics.com