slow - simple - soulful - sustainable
Simple Home Holism | Noelene Coleman
‘My idea of a holistic lifestyle is making considered choices to only use what we need, the best quality you can afford, and be aware of the impact of your everyday decisions.’
Growing up, Noelene watched her mother make everything by hand from scratch, including natural remedies with essential oils. Years later, she studied holistic therapies and travelled the world working, learning, and experiencing the power of aromatherapy and a holistic lifestyle. Eventually, she started her business Simple Home Holism.
From her home in Northern Ireland with mountains, forests, and the sea in her back yard, she has created a beautiful collection of handmade soaps, balms, butters, candles, and other self-care products inspired by life experiences and nature.
Noelene shares about her work and the journey that led to starting her business. She talks about not compromising quality and authenticity, avoiding sensory overwhelm, not separating life and work and her definition of slow living.
words by Marjolyn Poutsma and Noelene Coleman / images by Noelene Coleman
It’s lovely to talk to you! Can you tell us a bit about your background and what inspired you to start your business Simple Home Holism?
‘Growing up, my mother (and my grandmother) made everything from scratch, and I was always by her side, baking bread, sewing, cooking, we did what we could by hand. When my mother received a cancer diagnosis, she wanted to deal with it naturally and started to learn about essential oils, so I did too.
Years later when my dad asked me what I wanted to do with my life, all I could think of was – Aromatherapist. I loved working with my hands, the incredible scents, the power of the oils and helping people. I completed a 2-year HND in Applied Sciences to learn how to practise holistic therapies and how the oils and products could be made. I took this knowledge and worked in France, Italy and Spain in spas and yoga retreats learning as I travelled.
On returning home to Northern Ireland, I began making products for friends and family with a treatment room at home. I decided to create spa experiences for people to use in the comfort of their own home and Simple Home Holism emerged.’
You have a beautiful range of wellbeing products, from soap bars, balms and butters to candles and self-care kits with various scents, ingredients and beneficial properties. Where did you get the inspiration for the different products or fragrances from?
‘That’s a great question and hard to answer. I get inspired every single day, so it was really difficult to narrow this into a capsule collection. Mostly the blends are an essence of an experience I’ve had that I want to share with my customers. For example, at 19 I taught English in China, this was one of the most impressionable experiences of my life. While I was there, I discovered rice water (the water left after boiling rice) has so many benefits to the skin. The smell of rice cooking and of course ginger will always remind me of that incredible time in my life.’
You create your products with a holistic lifestyle in mind. What does holistic living mean to you and how do your products fit in?
‘For me holistic living and slow living are hard to separate. My idea of a holistic lifestyle is making considered choices to only use what we need, the best quality you can afford. To be aware of the impact of your everyday decisions – what we buy, where it has come from, where it will go. Taking the time to enjoy who and what we have in our lives in all its fullness and richness instead of needing more.’
Sustainability is an important value of your business. How is this reflected in the way you run your business and how you create your products?
‘I believe we should all be doing what we can to live a more sustainable (holistic) lifestyle, and this impacts every decision I make for the business – what could be the long-term effect of this choice? Where I source my raw ingredients is paramount to making sustainable products. So, I research my suppliers very carefully before I purchase and use only a select few suppliers who are local to me when possible. If a product is not available, I’m happy to wait until it is and will not compromise the quality and authenticity of my product. There have been many creations that have not come to market because the sourcing standards were not in line with this brand value.’
Next to your website, people can find you at local markets or book a candle or bath salt making home spa experience with you. Is there anything that you enjoy doing particular and what do love about it?
‘I love chatting to people and talking about how the products may help with something they may be struggling with. But the most fun part of what I do has to be the workshops. At one point in my life, I really wanted to be a teacher. Showing people how to work with the oils with everyday home ingredients and watching them create their own blends and products is really inspiring for me.’
Where do you work from and what does your production process look like?
‘I work from home in a studio in the garden that was my mother’s ‘sewing room’. I find I have to be in the right mood to make the product I need to make. Some days I’m really not in a soap mood so I have to change my plans because I know the end result will show that. I weigh out the raw ingredients, warm the solid oils, only to room temperature so as not to compromise the therapeutic properties of the oils, add the essential oil blend I’m working with. I only work with one blend a day otherwise it would be sensory overwhelm. Mix, set and wait. I cure each soap for 6 weeks, so waiting is an important part of most of my processes.’
What’s your bestseller and why do you think people like it so much?
‘Definitely Sea Salt, Lemongrass & Peppermint Soap – it’s so fresh and a really creamy, hydrating bar for the skin. The combination of lemongrass and peppermint are balancing to the skin, so this works well for people with hormonal acne or breakouts, oily/dry areas or weather damaged skin.’
Do you have any work in progress that you’d like to tell us about?
‘I have a new collection of products I have been working on for quite a while so I can’t wait to release them and find out what everyone thinks of them. I’m also creating a product for a charity that does some amazing work I feel really resonates with me so that’s very exciting. I can’t say any more than that at the moment but I’m looking forward to sharing it when I can.’
What’s the best part of doing what you do?
‘Getting the feedback that something I’ve created has helped someone or they really enjoy the scent.’
Is there anything you struggle with as a small creative business owner?
‘Absolutely! I love to make things – that’s my skill – but I’m only 1 person who is not an accountant, a social media marketer, a photographer, etc. The list is endless!’
Do you have a favourite season in the year and why?
‘Autumn is definitely my favourite season. I go out for a walk with my 2 dogs at lunchtime every day and there is a special atmosphere in Autumn when the sun in low in the sky, the leaves are tones of russet and the crunch of them underfoot. It’s cooler, lazier and more laid back than the busyness of Summer I find.’
What are your other passions or interests?
‘We’re very lucky to live in a beautiful area near the mountains and forests so I love walking and swimming in the sea. I practise some form of yoga and meditation daily and when I get time, I find it really relaxing to crochet.’
What does slow living mean to you?
‘Slow living to me is all of the above – making time for the little things in life, that’s the important stuff. Good food, time for yourself as well as friends and family, making time to be outdoors every day and only taking from life what we really need.’
THE TOOL BOX
What materials/resources do you use?
‘Recently I’ve been calling upon the expertise of other local artists and makers in my community to help me navigate some new areas which has been very useful, and everyone has been so keen to help. I will always use yoga to help me work things through and not make a decision too quickly, and bucket loads of tea!’
How do you get in the mood to work?
‘I like to make products in the morning, so I’ll have breakfast and a cup of tea, put on my work clothes, jazz fm and go for it. In the afternoon I’m all about writing. So, after my lunchtime walk, I’ll sit down with another cuppa and write emails, blog posts and social media pieces.’
What’s in your mug beside you?
‘Decaf tea with milk.’
Who inspires you?
‘Good Juju Herbal, Octo London, The Tides Wellness, Kinfolk, Phoenix & Providence and The Slow Living Guide of course – I was reading it long before I joined as a maker.’
How do you relax after work:
‘I don’t really separate life from work, I think it puts too much pressure of having to get things done within a certain time frame. As I still have a part-time job, it leaves little time to see things through if I try to box things off. So, I find it easier to punctuate my day with a walk, maybe meet friends at the local pub for a glass of wine. I set bedtime mode on my phone between 9pm and 7am so I can’t be scrolling on Instagram in bed. On the weekend, if I’m not trading at a market, I like to visit other markets or head off in our campervan with the dogs.’
NOELENE’S TRADE SECRET
Pay people for what they’re good at
‘It’s worth paying people for what they’re good at rather than trying to learn to do everything yourself. Your time is money too.’