Sandra Topper embarked upon a holistic health career in the early 1990s when mainstream interest in complimentary health care modalities skyrocketed. After obtaining accreditation in aromatherapy, reflexology, holistic nutrition and homeopathy, she began to cultivate her dream. She attributed her success to her steadfast determination. “It was also quite serendipitous!” she exclaims. “Turning a hobby into a living also involves a bit of luck, extensive networking and being in the right place at the right time.”
In 1992 Sandra’s interest in aroma was re-awakened from a childhood interest in creating cosmetics and perfumes. The creation of a handful of products, eventually lead to an extensive aromatherapy product line and the registration of a Canadian Trade Mark. Her vision was to supply other therapists with quality products and to educate the general public about the aromatic principles (pro-psychological effects) of essential oils vs. synthetic fragrances. And most importantly, how to use essential oils safely so as not to produce skin and respiratory sensitizations, while debunking the myths about how essentials oils may cure you of every ill or render you safe from developing serious medical conditions.
In 1993 after being turned down at a few cold calls, she decided to
open her own retail location in order to feature her own cottage
industry products. Sandra turned the typical drab health food store
concept upside down, by adding boutique lighting, unique glass displays,
and a sparkle of feel good spirituality. The shop featured the typical
gamut – vitamins, supplements, health
books, homeopathics and organic foods, it was also home to Ontario’s
first Aroma-Bar. While being guided by Sandra or by one of her
highly trained staff, customers gained control of their purchasing
power by creating their own personal body care and perfumes.
Inadvertently (despite having no formal training in marketing or psychology) her instincts capitalized on her client’s senses, converting non-believers into purchasers.
“Even if you didn’t believe in supplementing your health care regime, it was difficult not to walk out of my shop without purchasing some little trinket that made you feel good!” Coined by Sandra, her full-concept health shop was further enhanced by holistic cosmetics, rocks, stones, gems, hemp products, full-spectrum lighting and herbal tea accessories. Original art, jewelry, and natural fibre clothing added another dimension to her inventory.
It wasn't long before The Natural Nut Health Shop was featured in industry magazines. In 2001 Sandra was coined a Champion by the Royal Bank for
her gutsy determination in landing a bank loan to expand her wholesale
distributorship, despite having no formal business plan. 2001 proved to
be a good year
as her dedication to supporting her community also lead to a "Socially Responsible Retailer Award” from the Retail Council of Canada.
These two events prompted several features in magazines and included TV
and radio interviews which created a triple-fold increase in her
By the year 2002, corporate conglomerates began to create an uneven playing field for private and niche boutiques, with their big box formats and
their eyes gleaned on the complimentary health sector. Sandra noted
that her retail sales began to slip, when the big box stores moved into her rural
community. In 2003 she closed the doors to her retail business, however
this didn’t rattle her entrepreneurial spirit.
After ten years in retail she had full-circled back to her original dream, and was supplying over 600 locations across North America and around the globe with essential oils and spa related products.