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How change of career gave scent of success to Neom founder Nicola Twelve years ago Nicola Elliott launched her wellbeing brand Neom. Catherine Scott meets the Yorkshre mum and businesswoman. Walking into the Neom Organics shop in Leeds’s Victoria Gate shopping centre is a haven of tranquillity. It is the opposite of the life its founder Leeds-born Nicola Elliott led when she came up with the idea for the wellbeing brand famous for its essential oils and candles. “I was in my late 20s, working 60 hour weeks as a journalist for glossy magazines in London, burning the candle at both ends and getting increasingly stressed and anxious,” recalls Nicola now, 39. “I looked around the office and realised that it was full of women feeling the same way as I did we were all stressed, struggling to sleep and probably neglecting out wellbeing. I realised then that it was a modern malaise.” Nicola decided to look after her wellbeing and after work retrained in aromatherapy and nutrition. She started creating little essential oil blends and tinctures for her stressed out friend. “It was really obvious to me from the beginning that my products had to be 100 per cent natural and, where possible, organic to actually work.” At the same time, her sister was having trouble sleeping. “She is a staunch ‘greeny’ and was working for Friends Of The Earth. She has an OBE for services to climate change - she only ever uses organic products,” says Nicola. She realised quite quickly there was a gap in the market. “Twelve years ago there just weren’t the organic products using essential oils around. There were either glamorous products full of chemicals or else you had to head to the health food shops and get something in a brown paper bag.” To crack the market, she realised her essential oil blends had to look good as well as do good. That was never my main intention and packaging was never the most important thing but it was part of it.” And so with aromatherapy diffuser her business partner Oliver Mennell (Neom comes from their initials) she started with just five candles which she says were the first candles on the market to be made only with 100 per cent natural wax and pure essential oil “We took them to the Harrogate Gift Fair and there was a huge queue around our tiny 2m by 1m stall,” recalls Nicola who moved back to Yorkshire seven years ago and now lives in Harrogate where Neom has its HQ. “People were really interested in what we had to say.