International Women's Day with NEOM founder, Nicola Elliott
7th March 2020
By Erin Fox
At Fenwick, we have been celebrating formidable and inspiring women since we opened our doors in 1882. We had the pleasure of speaking with Nicola Elliott, the founder of NEOM, about how she started her business, her advice for young female entrepreneurs, and how to start your wellness journey.
At Fenwick, we have been celebrating formidable and inspiring women since our humble beginnings. We dressed [Dorothea Baird in 1896](https://www.fenwick.co.uk/our-story.html) for her role in the play _Trilby_. In the 1920s, Koringa, a celebrated circus performer in the Cleo Mills Brothers Circus was a regular at Fenwick Newcastle, often accompanied by her pet crocodile (and who recently inspired the name of our [exclusive lipstick with Code8](https://www.fenwick.co.uk/daily-muse/article/?cid=04904924-cc1d-425f-92a1-198a163339dd)). We also had the pleasure of [designing the flight suit for Lady Isobel Chaytor](https://www.fenwick.co.uk/daily-muse/home/dizzyingly-curious5-fun-facts-about-fenwicks-history/e0b9d4da-981f-410d-8609-4a97b72d24e0?cid=e0b9d4da-981f-410d-8609-4a97b72d24e0) – a pioneering aviatrix and the first woman pilot to fly from London to Australia in the 1930s.
We continue to celebrate women by selling female-first brands within Fenwick. We’ve highlighted [Eileen Fisher’s “The Future is Female” Morse code collection](https://www.fenwick.co.uk/daily-muse/women/express-yourself-meet-eileen-fisher-the-femalefirst-fashion-brand/4c9e17d5-69b6-40bc-9a69-7b3d92ed5217) and written about [four female-founded jewellery brands](https://www.fenwick.co.uk/daily-muse/women/four-femalefounded-jewellery-brands-to-find-at-fenwick/e5a4ab22-caaa-4418-b99b-d426489f893a?cid=e5a4ab22-caaa-4418-b99b-d426489f893a) making an impact.
We had the pleasure of speaking with Nicola Elliott (pictured above), the founder of NEOM, a beauty brand that uses 100% natural fragrances to boost wellbeing. They believe in creating products that give you better sleep, less stress and more energy. After spending seven years working as a journalist, the stress of the job took its toll, resulting in anxiety and panic attacks. She looked to aromatherapy to help alleviate some of the stress she was feeling from working 60 hours a week. “I was just doing too much and wasn’t looking after myself at a very basic level. I started going for walks, eating whole foods, and getting more fresh air – really nothing left field. And part of that, I found aromatherapy to be very helpful. I had a cabinet in my bathroom – it was like a luxurious apothecary – that was dedicated to blending fragrance,” says Nicola. She started blending her own fragrances, which, she adds is more difficult than one would think. It was her sister who introduced her to the idea of exploring 100% natural ingredients. “You just can’t get the same results from using a synthetic fragrance as you would from a natural fragrance,” she explains. She saw an gap in the market and decided to take the plunge. In 2004, NEOM launched with five candles, and is now a powerhouse with a range of 130 products.
NEOM surveys about 1,000 women every year to get an indication of stress levels by age. And to Nicola’s surprise, women in their 20s are the most stressed demographic (which also happens to be their fastest growing customer base). But, by no shortage, does this mean that women become less stressed as they get older. “I was adamant it was going to come back that women around the age of 37, with multiple children and who work full time would be the most stressed. But, to my surprise, young women came back as the most stressed. They are putting more pressure on themselves than any generation before them. I was also surprised to learn that stress didn’t stop at 65, with grandmothers nannying for their daughter’s children and worrying about their family’s wellbeing,” she says. What was the biggest takeaway? Put yourself first and starting small when it comes to wellness is OK. “Your body knows best, what your mind needs most,” she mentions. What works for us? NEOM’s Tranquillity Pillow Mist (£20) is a great way to ease yourself into wellness, and to take some time at the end of the day to just _breathe_.
On the topic of International Women’s Day, Nicola had some advice for young female entrepreneurs, “Make sure you start with a unique story, and never start with a product. If you have an original story, products will flow from that. And, you should also hire the best people you can – people who have a different skillset than you.” And after 16 years of running her wellness empire, Nicola reflects on why more women should take up entrepreneurial roles, “Because they are really good at it! Women understand customers and people well, as we are naturally collaborative. I’m trying to find a new car at the moment, and I cannot find a car that I like because none of them are designed by women. They are all designed by men, for men. That is a good example of an industry that doesn’t have enough women that are designing, creating and producing.”