We had the good fortune of connecting with Sahaja Douglass and we’ve shared our conversation below.
Hi Sahaja, have there been any changes in how you think about work-life balance?
I think it is so important to have a healthy work/life balance and often I have had to redirect my energies to achieve this. I am a highly motivated, passionate and energetic person so there have been times in the ebb and flow of owning my small business when I was working late nights and away for weekends at sales boutiques or seminars and my family did not get the attention I wanted to give it. That being said, I did not start SAHAJA Essential Oils until my sons were teenagers and for their formative years they were my focus (in addition to my meditation and yoga practice, teaching meditation and serving on the Board of Directors for a local health cooperative), so by the time they were teenagers I think they may have been more than ready for me to put my energy into a creative endeavor beyond chairing events and committees at their school. Also, my husband has always been actively involved in their lives, so if I was away he stepped in to make them meals and drive them to activities. Now I spend my mornings doing self-nurturing practices like meditation, yoga, hiking, pilates, and cooking and I work in the afternoons and early evenings. I have always worked from home, so I am surrounded by my family and the one son still living at home frequently wanders into my office to talk with me or share music that he appreciates and I usually don’t.
Can you open up a bit about your work and career? We’re big fans and we’d love for our community to learn more about your work.
Starting my company, SAHAJA Essential Oils was a happy accident of sorts. I did not begin with a great 5 year business plan (although I do highly recommend that). I started by sharing the essential oil blends I loved creating for friends and family, and then with their encouragement at a local farmers market and a local yoga studio. Based on the positive feedback from customers, I began the work of hiring a team of consultants (web designer Landry Malick, graphic designer Justina Krakowski for my logo and bottles) to take my business to the next level. There were a gazillion decisions to make and I wanted each one to reflect the core values of my company which in essence were my own core values of beauty, creativity, high quality, purity of product, inclusivity and selfless service. I trusted my small team of consultants and also asked my husband, children, parents, siblings and friends what they thought of certain design choices. Sometimes I posted three variations of a logo or bottle design on Instagram and asked people for feedback. And then once I got input and filtered it through my own preferences I made decisions. It sounds laborious, but the process actually moved fairly quickly. And of course there were financial decisions to make as I was borrowing the seed money to start the company from my family and did not have a budget that allowed me to do all things at once. I started with basic wellness blends, a website, social media and a lot passion and determination. I also tapped into my longtime yoga community to get the word out about my products. I discovered that some things I did took a lot of time and energy–holiday boutiques–and were inconsistent in how much product I sold. Over time, I learned where I wanted to devote time, money and energy and also once I moved past the phase of expending money for start-up costs, I was able to stabilize financially. I have been really fortunate to work with assistants and consultants who support and share my vision. Ultimately I feel really proud of the company I started, the exquisite product line I have developed and the community of people who appreciate SAHAJA blends. I source all my organic and therapeutic grade oils from sustainable farmers and distillers and my packaging is mindful of its impact on the environment. I still hand-pour all of my blends and say prayers with the intention that those who receive SAHAJA blends will benefit and be filled with joy. I hope that the SAHAJA community continues to grow and that the magnificence inherent in the oils finds its way into the hearts of all who use the blends!
If you had a friend visiting you, what are some of the local spots you’d want to take them around to?
Well…..I am assuming this question refers to a world in which COVID is not wreaking havoc with lives and businesses and LA is open again. In that scenario, my dream itinerary includes a combination of being home, in nature, at museums and some favorite restaurants. We would start of with a 4 mile hike off our property in Topanga Canyon, come home to practice Iyengar yoga and then drive to have lunch at Milo and Olive in Santa Monica (although I usually eat the Milo Chopped salad, they have amazing pizza that comes to the table steaming out of their brick oven). After lunch, we’d drive downtown to the Broad Museum, look at the art and then see a show at the Taper or Geffen. The next day we’d wake up and drive to Olympic Spa in mid-Los Angeles and spend the day being pampered, scrubbed and massaged. We’d continue the nourishing hedonism with a delicious Italian dinner at Il Pastaio in Beverly Hills. Day three, we’d drive to Zuma beach in Malibu, spend the morning body boarding and reading under umbrellas, eat a light picnic lunch, shower at a friends place and then drive to Nobu for dinner. The trick to eating at Nobu without breaking the bank is to share apps and entrees. Day 4, we’d spend close to home meditating, practicing yoga, cooking food, baking for my family and watching movies on tv. Day 5 we’d do some shopping on Melrose in West Hollywood or if it’s the last Friday of the month, we might head downtown to the CA Clothing Mart and the New Mart to shop at the sample sales. Day 6, we’d hike, meditate and chill during the morning, cook a feast in the afternoon for our backyard dinner party attended by my best women friends. By day 7, we’d be exhausted and ready for our daily routines and schedules.
The Shoutout series is all about recognizing that our success and where we are in life is at least somewhat thanks to the efforts, support, mentorship, love and encouragement of others. So is there someone that you want to dedicate your shoutout to?
While there have been many people who have had a role in the success of SAHAJA Essential Oils, the initial spark that lit my passion for blending came from a dear friend and mentor, Alex Rose. Alex has always been an early adopter and exuberant enthusiast of anything that supports, nourishes and enhances health. If I had a dollar for every good idea of hers or every article informing me about a useful product, procedure or health trend, Elon Musk would be the second wealthiest person in the world. When Alex introduced me to essential oils in the late 1990’s, she showed me all the basics–how to apply them, diffuse them and dilute them in carrier oils. After years of using essential oils at home, one holiday I made wellness blends and bath salts as gifts for friends and my sons’ teachers. The response was so positive that when one friend said, “You should sell these,” I started imaging what I would offer people. Thank you to my bestie, Marcie Greene for having full faith in my ability to run a business! Of course, none of my creativity would have manifested in products without my husband’s support at home; when I was immersed in the studio blending, he was holding down the fort.
Christina Trayfors for the images of SAHAJA EO product on the table, Sahaja Douglass for the photo of the two yellow bottles, Kelly Fogel for the image of me practicing Ardha Chandrasana in the orange yoga clothes, Liam Douglass for the photo of me in a twisting seated pose and Maya Adabri for the headshot of me in the blue shirt.