Kimberly Elmore, an Identity Staff Writer has dedicated her time to “Scratch the Surface” and focusing on one woman and her inspirational story. Kimberly’s interviews to highlight any woman who feels that she has achieved in her life. Whether you’re a mother, CEO, nurse, or an entrepreneur, we want to scratch the surface and find out how you got to where you are today and what have you learned and where you found your inspiration.
By Kimberly Elmore
“I am not falling apart, I am unfolding.” That was Deborah Olivo Franqui’s mantra during one of the darkest periods in her life. At 53 years old, while facing an embarrassing and local media-focused divorce, being laid off from a corporate job, and facing the incredulity of starting over…Deborah felt overwhelmed.
“In addition to my corporate job, some 10 years ago I opened my practice as a neuromuscular therapist,” says Deborah. “Armed with a background in aromatherapy during what would seem my darkest hours, I would sit alone at my kitchen table and just create calming, healing recipes with natural oils. I wanted to give something (in my own small way) that could help make a difference for someone as well as myself.”
She had no idea that her hallmark as a giver with a commitment to health and wellness for her family and community would offer the stability and focus necessary for this extraordinary accomplishment. Seeing that she had an amazing opportunity for a ‘do over,’ Deborah decided to move forward with her dream.
“When I needed something to sanitize and refresh my treatment room and couldn’t find anything without harsh chemicals and fake smells, I did lots of research and mixed up my own concoction of environmentally-friendly natural essential oils and put it in a spray bottle,” says Deborah. “For years, I used the spray and clients would ask me where I got it and how they could get hold of it.”
After 10 years of using the spray with her clients, Deborah felt as though she was at a crossroad. Everything was changing around her – the economy had pushed her out of a job and personal things were evolving. Deborah’s best friend said, “just do it.” So, VidaAire was born. “You can say I created a ‘green’ product when it was considered just a color and not a lifestyle,” says Deborah.
As Deborah embarked on this new chapter in her life, she was met with some challenges as she launched VidaAire. “I think for anyone starting a business the number one challenge (after facing your fears) is finances,” says Deborah. “I reached out to my community for help and found some great resources here in New Jersey. One of the most important was The Women’s Center for Entrepreneurship Corp. They helped me to see that there was a real demand for VidaAire. They worked with me providing mentorship and coaching, as well as a microloan for my new business. “
Deborah believes networking is also imperative. She is a fan of women’s groups because the dynamic is supportive, encouraging, educational, and helpful. Deborah says she’s made some of her most valuable contacts through networking.
This journey towards creating VidaAire and becoming an entrepreneur has offered great rewards to Deborah. She says,“Embarking on the decision to become an entrepreneur is very revealing to your untapped talents because it forces you to see that you are a leader, you are creative, you are a problem solver, and that what you can offer is valuable and viable.”
Deborah has a rich family history of flora and fauna. Her mother, Flor (whose name means flower) instilled this appreciation at an early age. Even though they lived in the city, Deborah’s grandmother would always turn to herbs and plants to make them feel better.
“VidaAire is founded on the idea of creating a product using only pure, natural, and organic essential oils. It is this way of life, simple, pure, natural and honest that is exemplified in VidaAire” says Deborah. “VidaAire is an evolution of me, created from a commitment to healthy living and appreciation for a natural lifestyle that inspired a new direction.”
Deborah credits her essential oils as a tool that helps her feel balanced and calm. Deborah says that the state of creativity can only be achieved through being calm. She has a cornucopia of ways to stay calm, balanced, focused and clear headed through essential oils.
“Because essential oils are the life blood of a plant/flower, you receive a concentrated form of benefits that the plant actually uses to survive,” says Deborah. “When you inhale these oils, you inhale these properties into your lungs, and it is then dispersed through your bloodstream giving you a physical effect. Thus, lavender smells good, but this is also why it is calming.”
At first, Deborah, found it a little unsettling to be an entrepreneur because it worried her to know that she was calling the shots and in charge of the outcome. She’s become more comfortable with this title because being an entrepreneur means being an innovative business leader, a role that women unfortunately have not been familiar with. However, what gets overlooked is that women, says Deborah, already are the CEO of our families, efficiently taking on multiple roles of career, wife, and mother. So, why not lead with the same nurturing commitment as an entrepreneur?
“Not many people have the opportunity to do what they love and be rewarded on the emotional and physical level,” says Deborah. “And what they love is usually found in a skill or talent they don’t see as valuable in the marketplace. I encourage you to take a second look; you may find that what you thought was a lump of coal is actually a diamond.”
VidaAire is growing and customers are already requesting additional products such as car and room diffusers, sanitizing hand soap, odor eliminators for gym bags and sneakers, and pet spray. Deborah would also like to develop a nature-based education outreach program for communities because, as Deborah believes, the greener we get, the cleaner we get, and the greener we are, the healthier we are, for today and tomorrow.
In keeping with Identity’s mission of Accept. Appreciate. Achieve., below are some more questions that fit in with that theme:
What have you accepted in life that has taken time?
Deborah: “I’ve accepted that it is not about what I know or don’t know. Just do it. And the lessons will uncover the rest.”
What do you appreciate most in your life?
Deborah: “That everyone starts with a blank page and anything is absolutely possible.”
What are your most rewarding achievements in life?
Deborah: “Knowing that being uncomfortable is an opportunity for a lesson. When life’s situations make me uncomfortable, I know I’m in the middle of a lesson. Life will never test you where you are strong; it tests you where you need to reinforce your character. “
What is your not-so-perfect way?
Deborah: “Making lasagna and dancing. :)”
Complete the phrase, “I Love My…”
Deborah: “I Love My…Smile ‘cause I’m worth it.”