‘I had absolute clarity that I had to live a different lifestyle.’
After realising she needed to make some big changes, Gail Bryden, 46 from Edinburgh, retrained in alternative therapies and created an award-winning business. The role I had before I began Justbe Botanicals was almost my dream job. However, I became quite unwell through stress and I think one of the main reasons for that was a sense of isolation. I had moved around the country with previous roles and I had always made new friends. However, I think because I was in my early thirties at that point, most of the people in the team were married and settled down which made it more difficult. I think the pressure of the role coupled with that feeling of isolation was really overwhelming.
Basically my entire body shut down. I was taken off a plane in a wheelchair and it took a while to get back to full strength. I had always had senior roles in my career and it wasn’t that my last corporate role was extra high powered, I think it was a combination of various factors.
What I knew for certain was that I couldn’t put myself back into an office environment, I had absolute clarity that I had to live a different lifestyle. I read an article about how acupuncture could help with stress. I remember telling my doctor that I really didn’t want any form of medication and that I was going to try acupuncture. The acupuncturist got me back to health in almost record time and it was him that said to me, ‘this is a real opportunity for you to choose again, what have you always wanted to do?’
The first qualification I went for was in holistic massage and that introduced me to the mind-body connection. It was so relevant to what I had just experienced and I think it helped me make sense of everything. I then went on to do various additional qualifications including clinical aromatherapy.
When I first qualified I took a room at Neal’s Yard as well as a low income clinic and I had clients coming to my house. I wanted to make my treatments as accessible as possible. Now as well as the product range, I train therapists as I have now developed six Justbe spa treatments. They are available at a selection of spas and salons including The Gin Spa in Glasgow which offers the complete Justbe well-being journey – including the chocolates at the end.
The Justbe Botanicals range began with aromatherapy massage oils. It was evolution rather than revolution, I didn’t set out with the intention of creating products. The intention was to be kind to myself and find a purpose in life that meant I could have an enjoyable lifestyle.
The process of creating the product was largely intuitive but I wanted to bring a modern twist to aromatherapy. The skincare collection began when I was asked to create an anti-ageing facial. I began with a cleansing balm and an eye make-up remover, which is now my most awarded product. I continue to hand blend the majority of the products with the exceptions of the chocolates and soap ranges which are made for me in Scotland. When I developed my range I thought I was only going to have it for use within treatments but the first four outlets I went to all said they would take it. The range has now received 21 awards which is fantastic!
People often ask if it’s stressful having your own business but I don’t think life is about having no stress. I think it’s about making conscious choices and knowing that you’re choosing to do what you are doing. When you have what you believe to be a real purpose, it is a different sort of drive and now I have created a life and a lifestyle that really works and is good for me.