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The women behind Made by Pure Hands

A few years ago I was interviewed by Shona Chambers, owner of Self-Employed Club and Shona Chambers Marketing. I loved doing this interview so much because it was the first time I had shared my business story as to how I became an Aromatherapist and why I set up Made by Pure Hands. I hope this interview helps you understand why I do what I do, and I why this has been the best job in the world.

Though my business will evolve as I grow and the needs of my clients change; it will always be centred around wellbeing and self-care and helping you find that sense of inner peace and calm.

In this weekly blog series we aim to highlight fantastic creative people mainly from SE London who we either work with or admire.

This week it's Vanessa Afful an Aromatherapist/Massage Therapist and owner of Made by Pure Hands

1. What led you to start up your business?

Now this is a really long story which I will try and keep it short.

It was a combination of being unfilled at work and struggling to progress up the career ladder. 20 plus years ago it was a complete slog for women that looked like me to progress in Marketing.

So after entering the world of temping and freelance work (which was meant to be a short term work solution), I found myself stuck and desperate to find what my next career move would be.

A good friend had recommended a book called ‘What Colour is Your Parachute’.

One of the chapters in the book was about working for yourself.

However, I lacked the self-confidence to work for myself.

Also my confidence had taken a complete battering; in short I wasn’t ready.

So I put the idea to one side and concentrated on discovering what I thought would be ‘my dream job’.

The one thing I did was enrol myself on a 6 week course learning how to make my own beauty products.

It introduced me to the world of Aromatherapy; I was hooked on learning about oils.

By the end of the book, I had landed my ‘dream job’ of running a Website and I was also back in PR so everything was great.

Well it was, until I hit another crossroads and the journey I am now on was finally allowed to breathe and grow. It all l started when I picked up this book and realised what it was that really made me tick.

2. What were the biggest obstacles to starting up?

Honestly, myself!!!

What I realise now, is in order to give yourself the best shot at starting up and staying in business, is to have the belief in yourself and what you are doing.

Yes, you will come across obstacles. Yes, you will make mistakes, but if you get up and show up each time you give yourself a fighting chance.

So, as I can be stubborn as a Mule, in the early days I kept talking myself out of taking the plunge. So in true Universal fashion I started to lose all my safety nets that were preventing me from taking the plunge.

Life became extremely uncomfortable, so in the end I was out of excuses. I had to succeed, plus I now had a little person that depended on me.

Also when you first start a business you take on any work that comes in, but this does change as you realise what you enjoy doing more of and eliminating what isn't as much fun or what doesn't bring in as much profit.

3. What do you love about your business?

So, so, so much, I love assisting people with their journeys to better health, I love making a difference in someone’s life.

When someone leaves my couch/massage chair and they feel a sense of wellbeing, it is the ultimate high.

I love working with natural products and learning about them and massage techniques that give the maximum benefit to my clients.

I like that I am not stuck in an office, and that I get to see the sun and I get to be out. Omg the list goes on and on. This is the best job/career I have ever had; I never want to stop.

4. What do you love the most about working locally and do you get to work in other areas?

Apart from the practicality of working locally, which means I can do the school run on most days.

Peckham has changed a lot compared to when I first moved here 34 years ago.

When my Mum first moved us to Peckham I was bitter to say the least. All my friends were in Battersea, I was going to have to choose a Secondary school locally and that was the biggest downer for a 10 year old.

Over the years businesses left and Peckham fell into decay; so I was always on the run.

If you asked me in my 20s if I would love living in Peckham and I would work in the area. I would have told you “You’re having a laugh! "

Yet here I am, and loving it. I often get to walk to work; I don’t have to deal with the daily awful commute. There are so many wonderful local businesses popping up everywhere.

I love the community feel of Bellenden Road from both businesses and residents.

The Bellenden Big Lunch is one of the highlights on the street. This year I was unable to take part due to work commitments, but I still wanted to support the event.

The growing network of business community that is popping up in Peckham and East Dulwich is phenomenal.

This is what I’ve always wanted to see. It’s wonderful that people supporting one another (particularly women). It is an absolute delight to be part of it.