Leading light of the natural organic skincare industry, Aromatherapy Associates’ chairman and co-founder Geraldine Howard has died, aged 63, after a long battle with cancer.
“Geraldine was one of the most amazing women I’ve ever met and she left a lasting, positive impression on everyone,” says Aromatherapy Associates CEO Muriel Zingraff.
“This is an incredibly sad time but Geraldine would want us to celebrate her life. It was her mission in life to formulate products to help others.
“We will remain committed to making the transformative benefits of aromatherapy accessible to as many people as possible.
“It was always Geraldine’s mission to tell the world how incredible essential oils are and she saw Aromatherapy Associates as more than a business; it was her way of life.
“Her life philosophy was to treat people well, always be fair and live a full life with no regrets. She was an incredibly hard worker and even through her personal battle with cancer she always remained involved in Aromatherapy Associates, ensuring the brand remained focused and committed in its development of innovative, results-driven products.”
Geraldine and fellow founder Sue Beechey had been been teaching, practising and blending therapeutic oils for more than 30 years.
In 1985 they began to share their expertise within the greatest spas in the most luxurious locations by establishing the English organic skincare brand, which set a new benchmark for the industry.
Today the exquisite blends are present in leading hotels (including Mandarin Oriental, Westins and Four Seasons), resorts and day spas in more than 45 countries, as well as highly respected retail outlets such as London’s Liberty, Fortnum & Mason and Selfridges, and now Sephora beauty emporiums.
“Our experience has shown that essential oils are extremely effective at enhancing the state of our physical, mental and emotional wellbeing,” Geraldine said.
“We want to share this knowledge with our award-winning, natural essential oil blends, body care and skincare products as well as results-driven treatments that are as effective as they are luxurious.”
Paying tribute to the skincare pioneer, Nancy Davis, senior vice president and executive director of the Global Wellness Summit, said: “I am deeply grateful to have known Geraldine, and to have been able to bring her luminous spirit to [last year’s GWS in] Mexico City, through her video interview and live, via Skype, when she received the richly deserved Leading Woman in Wellness award.
“Geraldine touched people all over the world through Aromatherapy Associates, and her passionate commitment to educating people about the power of essential oils.
“More importantly, Geraldine touched people on a deeply personal level, reminding us all what’s truly important, and what matters most in the end. Her legacy will surely be one of extraordinary professional achievement and lifelong personal connection.
“As she told us the story of her battle with cancer through the video we played in Mexico City, we each held in our hand a taper scented with Serenity, the fragrance she created just for our Summit.
“We took a collective breath and, in that moment, connected with Geraldine in a powerful, memorable way.
“Geraldine exuded intelligence, warmth, humour and extraordinary grace. May she rest in eternal peace, in a field of English roses.”
Aromatherapy Associates had humble beginnings in a small private address in Fulham, London, but it counted Princess Diana and other high-profile people among its first clients.
Geraldine and Sue blended their own oils to offer treatments to support emotional and mental wellbeing, as well as improve body and skincare for clients. Not being able to treat everyone individually, they decided to launch a range of oils commercially.
In 2013 Aromatherapy Associates launched Inner Strength Bath and Shower Oil, conceived by Geraldine during her treatment for a type of eye cancer, with which she was diagnosed in 2011 and had her right eye removed within a few days.
She was offered the opportunity to participate in a trial for a new cancer vaccine, based in Holland.
To give her courage at a dark time, Geraldine formulated Inner Strength – which she originally called Black Hole – using it also to help raise money (10 percent of all proceeds) for the Defence Against Cancer Foundation, a charity that helped pioneer the vaccine.
In 2009, with a turnover of nearly $10 million, Aromatherapy Associates sold a majority stake to Ian Richardson, a former lawyer turned investor.
Within a few years turnover had almost quadrupled.
“She is a terrific female business role model in every way, particularly with the health challenges she has faced,” Ian Richardson said of Geraldine.