Helias Embraces Product Traceability To Convey The Purity Of Its Essential Oils
In the sometimes-sketchy world of essential oils, Helias is publicly substantiating its purity by making its product origins traceable.
Beginning late next month, consumers will be able to enter batch numbers displayed on the aromatherapy brand’s bottles into its website to access information on the specific contents of the bottles and the lab that processed them. Helias is already doling out particulars online about where its ingredients are grown. For example, its lavender is cultivated in Bulgaria, bergamot in Italy and lime in the Dominican Republic.
“With the rise of the Everlane’s and Allbird’s of the world, everyone—and our generation especially—is much more conscious about where their products are coming from and leaving behind better footprints,” says 31-year-old Vini Trambadia, who founded Helias with Robert D’Ambrosio. “Being able know exactly what’s in it and where it is coming form is very important, and it’s going to become even more important.”
Essential oils, which are highly-concentrated distilled plant extracts, are adulterated in products with synthetic materials and cheap oils. As sales in the essential oil segment climb, the flood of merchandise exacerbates the problem, and consumers can encounter difficulties distinguishing good products from bad.
“Essential oil fanatics know exactly what to look for when buying essential oils, but it’s confusing for new consumers of essential oils. You can go into Whole Foods, and some lavender is $6 and some is $25. What can you trust?” says Trambadia. “There is a big variance, and there’s a reason for that variance: quality differences. We want to articulate our quality.”
“With the rise of the Everlane’s and Allbird’s of the world, everyone—and our generation especially—is much more conscious about where their products are coming from and leaving behind better footprints.”
Essential oil contamination may diminish the possible health benefits of aromatherapy, and Trambadia points out certain oils used to dilute essential oils like coconut and soybean gum up diffusers. She’s examined many essential oil products on Amazon and discovered their formulas often contain soybean oil.
“We have found that a lot of the essential oils on the marketplace, especially the ones you can buy on Amazon, aren’t what they say they are,” reports Trambadia. “Because of a lack of regulation, there’s not much we can do. That’s why we decided to tell our story in a positive way without putting anybody down.”
Helias hit the beauty scene last July with a launch at Urban Outfitters. Since then, the brand has broken into Saks Fifth Avenue. Retail finance experts Trambadia and D’Ambrosio met about five years while working at Saks Fifth Avenue. D’Ambrosio was an essential oil enthusiast, and Indian-American Trambadia had been raised with natural ingredients as remedies for routine ailments. Together, they figured they could develop a natural beauty brand that would speak to modern consumers.
“Our overarching philosophy is we want to be a one-stop shop for all things natural. We genuinely believe that nature is filled with incredible resources, and we want to share them as much as possible,” says Trambadia, adding, “I really wanted to create a brand with a fun image. If you put most essential oil bottles in a line, they will be either black, white, amber or beige. There wasn’t really a fun element. We brought in bright colors for that reason.”
“If you put most essential oil bottles in a line, they will be either black, white, amber or beige. There wasn’t really a fun element. We brought in bright colors for that reason.”
Helias’ assortment today spans 15 products priced from $15 to $85, including eight single essential oils such as patchouli, rosemary, cedarwood, vetiver, eucalyptus and clary sage, four essential oil blends (Sleep, Calm, Passion and Energy), jojoba and almond carrier oils to mix with the singles for application, and a diffuser. Trambadia estimates the product prices run 20% to 30% below the product prices of prominent direct-sales essential oil purveyors DoTerra and Young Living.
Helias started with essential oil products, but Trambadia and D’Ambrosio plan to extend its selection beyond them. In March, the brand will introduce internal and external products with non-psychoactive cannabidiol or CBD. The ingestible product will feature 500 milligrams of CBD and the topical body oil will have 800 milligrams. Similar to its essential oil products, Helias will supply a comprehensive rundown of what’s in its upcoming CBD products on its website.
“A friend of mine is a pilot, and I had a bunch of samples I wanted him to try. He said, ‘Vini, I need to 100% know that there is no THC in them. I get tested almost every week and, if it comes out that I have taken THC, I will be fired,’” recounts Trambadia. “We went back to our chemist and said, ‘We absolutely need the most detailed report that we can get for our internal CBD oil because we want people to feel comfortable with the product.’”
Although Helias is sold at brick-and-mortar retailers to help establish its credibility, Trambadia views it primarily as a direct-to-consumer brand. Its product traceability is part of a broader program to strengthen its digital presence. In 2020, Helias expects to initiate a personalization component connecting customers to the essential oils right for them based on their lifestyles.
“In five to 10 years, I hope the brand is 100% direct to consumer, and I hope that people are coming to us for original content,” says Trambadia. “I really want to be a platform for people to share their thoughts and opinions on products, and we want people to be really passionate about the products, so they become the salespeople for them.”