If you’ve ever dropped by the Crescat branch of Keells, you may have spied a range of products – skin, hair and aromatherapy all elegantly packaged in stylishly simple bottles. Kishani Gunawardene is used to having people remark that they are reminded of Body Shop products and indeed the vivacious founder of the locally made range of aromatherapy likes nothing better than talking about scents and their special uses. She will expound the virtues of herbs and essences like juniper, lavender and rosemary, Ylang ylang and sandalwood. She uses them in her products and will attest to how her own life has changed as a result of her introduction to this sweet-smelling world.
Aromatherapy is often viewed as something rather airy-fairy made up of exotic scents, candles and all that’s romantic. But there is a strong scientific basis to it which Kishani herself discovered when on a whim she followed a course at the Fanny Price School of Aromatherapy in London some years ago.
There was so much to discover in fact and so fascinated was she that in the years to follow, she gave up her first discipline of Chartered Management accountancy (despite having been a senior accountant and marketing professional) to immerse herself in aromatherapy, and gain a professional qualification in the field. She still travels to Britain regularly to follow further courses and is currently in the midst of a master’s degree in aromatology (internal use of essential oils).
Kishani’s next step was to launch Aromystique, now rechristened Kemara (Sanskrit for healing), Boutique, Academy and Spa in Wellawatte where she personally supervises and administers treatments with a trained team. The response has been gratifying, so much so that last year she opened a new branch in Barnes Place, Colombo 7.
Coming out with her own range of aromatherapy products is a major step for Kishani. Significant too is that she has tied up with the Penny Price Academy of Aromatherapy UK, an internationally known body with many affiliations to run courses for local students.
The courses themselves are varied: Reflexology, Indian Head Massage and her staple- the Aromatherapy Diploma Course of which a new course will begin this September are the most popular. The Aromatherapy diploma, Kishani explains is done in different modules, two of which she conducts locally and the balance by correspondence with the Penny Price Academy.
This course includes learning about essential oils, an introduction to Botany and Chemistry and the principles of massage.
Aromatherapy is a holistic science and Kishani believes that whether one wants to practise it professionally, with so many opportunities to work at spas, or learn it for one’s own benefit, there is much to be gained from its study.
Reflexology- also known as ‘zone therapy’ originates from the ancient Chinese system of healing which is aimed at diagnosing, treating and balancing body systems and their related organs. Known to relax the body, reflexology is also known as compression massage and pressure point therapy.
Thus far Kishani’s most popular courses are her mother and baby sessions where she teaches young mothers how to use aromatherapy and massage for their children. She has had the support of NineWells Hospital for this and says her regular sessions are satisfying for her too, as a mother. Kemara’s recently launched baby care range has been going places literally with export orders now coming in. A useful product here is her mosquito repellent for babies (there’s one for adults too) with the Dengue menace still stalking the country.
Kishani gets her essential oils from reputed manufacturers in India and Australia and is now seeking to have her products vetted by ECOCERT, a world recognized body which issues certification of green products so as to assure her customers of the quality they get when they purchase a Kemara product.
It’s a long process, but Kishani believes that it’s one more step in making people more open to making aromatherapy part of their lives.
For more information see: www.kemaralife.com.