Soothing Scents Inc. started as a way to help a patient one night after a routine procedure. Since that evening, Nurse Anesthetist Wendy Nichols, CRNA, APRN, BSN, has seen the company grow and expand its offerings. OR Today interviewed the Soothing Scents co-founder, who also serves as its director of creative development, to find out more about the company and what it has to offer health care providers and patients.

Q: Can you share a little bit about your company’s history and how it achieves success?

Nichols: Late one night, after doing anesthesia for a C-Section, I decided to investigate the use of essential oil vapor to help my nauseated patients. It is a common practice to have patients inhale isopropyl alcohol vapor when they experience nausea, but I thought because essential oils were high in natural alcohols that they might have an even better effect, while smelling significantly better. This led to over a year of research and development. My brother, Roy, and I started the company Soothing Scents to manufacture and distribute our first product QueaseEASE, which is an inhaler delivery system that uses a blend of four essential oil vapors to help manage postoperative nausea. So, what began with me ordering little aluminum tins off the Internet and assembling QueaseEASE kits on my kitchen table, solely to help the patients in our little rural Maine hospital, has now expanded to a state-of-the-art facility serving over 1,500 health care facilities, and we’re growing every day. We achieve success purely because there is a need, which we were passionate about filling (and because Roy is a brilliant entrepreneur).

Q: What are some advantages that your company has over the competition?

Nichols: As the first company to develop therapeutic inhaled essential oil (TIEO) solutions for the health care environment, our advantage is that we have a thorough understanding of the safety features that are required – particularly with regards to perioperative patients who may be drowsy from anesthesia and thus require a higher standard of monitoring and vigilance. Our products have been developed by health care providers, are all evidence based and have been clinically validated through multiple independent studies.

Q: What are some challenges the company faced last year? How were you able to overcome them?

Nichols: For many years, we were the only TIEO product in health care, although last year saw a few cheaper priced competitors join the field. Fortunately our nurse champions recognize the value of our delivery systems – which are designed specifically for patient safety – and our commitment to using only the highest quality, evidence-based essential oil blends. So, in that way, our focus on safety and validated research very much sets us apart.

Q: Can you explain your company’s core competencies and unique selling points?

Nichols: Our core competency is that, as health care professionals ourselves, we understand the issues that exist in the clinical area. We offer a bridge between complementary and traditional health care by providing essential oil therapy in a format that has scientific backing and adheres to specific safety standards. We are also building a focus on educating nurses in essential oil best practices and adding to the body of clinically validated knowledge of essential oil use in the health care setting.

Q: What product or service that your company offers are you most excited about right now?

Nichols: We have a few new projects that we are quite excited about. First, we are launching a new blend, CLEAR, that soothes nasal congestion. Our initial test results are quite good, and I think it will be very helpful for seasonal allergy sufferers. Secondly, we are developing a consulting service for hospitals that will help streamline the integration of TIEO into their facility. Third, we are creating a very well-rounded educational seminar for health care professionals interested in learning more about evidence-based integrative therapies.

Q: What is on the horizon for your company? How will it evolve in the coming years?

Nichols: We foresee TIEO becoming a standard first-line treatment for nausea and anxiety throughout the hospital, including areas such as labor and delivery and emergency departments. We will continue to support nursing education and research, while continuously offering innovative non-drug solutions for patient well-being.

Q: Can you share some company success stories with our readers – a time that you “saved the day” for a customer?

Nichols: One of our favorite things at Soothing Scents is to read the wonderful comments sent to us from our customers. We have had thousands over the years, but the ones that really stand out are from patients going through difficult situations such as chemotherapy. We are humbled and touched when they take the time to let us know how much our products helped them.

Q: Can you please describe your company’s facility?

Nichols: We are incredibly proud of our facility in Newton, Alabama, which has over 5,000 square feet specifically designed to manufacture our type of product. It is a light-filled, happy space that sets standards for best manufacturing practices. Our employees love it, and that makes us very happy.

Q: Can you highlight any recent changes to your company?

Nichols: We are always innovating and looking for ways to improve our products and customer experiences. In 2018, we were able to move most of our production in-house, which has resulted in higher quality and lower costs that we can pass on to customers.

Q: Can you tell me about your employees?

Nichols: Our employees are really the best, and we’re so grateful for their kindness, excellence and passion. The heart and soul of our company has to be Kurt Waid, our operations manager. His unfailing positive attitude has contributed greatly to our success.

Q: What is your company’s mission statement, or if you don’t have a specific one, what is most important to you about the way you do business?

Nichols: Our mission is to develop safe and effective nursing interventions that provide innovative solutions for the requirements of the modern medical environment. The most important thing for us, and in the way that we do business, is to always delight our customers, make sure our products set the standard for safety and ease of use, and to provide science-backed evidence for each and every claim we make.

Q: Is there anything else you want readers to know about your company?

Nichols: Our company was started with the desire to provide health care professionals with a way to ease patient suffering safely and simply. We organize around that founding principle by simply providing the best essential oil delivery systems for patient use, investing in educational opportunities and supporting clinical research.

In closing, Soothing Scents is a different kind of medical product company, dedicated to building a science-informed bridge between conventional and alternative medicine through evidence-based essential oil solutions, delivery innovation and nursing education.

Its mission originated from a question about a problem it was looking to solve: How can patient suffering be effectively relieved without using medication?

This led to more questions: What would it take to bridge the gap between complementary and conventional medicine? What would a company that does this look like? And how could the founders rethink nursing interventions to address the current issues facing patients, nurses and facilities?

So, through extensive scientific research and discussions with hundreds of medical professionals, Soothing Scents created a range of drug-free, essential oil-based based products designed specifically to combat perioperative nausea and anxiety, provided in innovative delivery systems that allow nurses and patients to manage these symptoms immediately, anytime and anywhere.

The products origins are 100 percent medical, the ingredients are 100 percent natural, and the company’s aim is to create modern solutions that enhance the recovery of patients and the quality of care provided by nurses across the country.

For more information, contact the company at info@soothing-scents.com or visit soothing-scents.com.