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Start-up Loans North East and MNBotanical - Scents make sense for start-up entrepreneur

Case Study: Start-up Loans North East and MNBotanical - Scents make sense for start-up entrepreneur
Graduate felt history was not her future
History graduate Melissa Neall, 24, founded MNBotanical in January 2013, after realising she was more likely to develop a successful career by developing the hobby in which she was passionate – health and cosmetics – rather than sticking to the subject she had read at Newcastle University.
Melissa, originally from Kirkbride in Cumbria, who had been academic at school, found retraining in aromatherapy and skincare ignited a passion and she is now a member of the Federation of Holistic Therapists. Returning to her home county once qualified, Melissa, who now lives in Gosforth, Newcastle upon Tyne, started trading in Carlisle, where she maintains a clinic around one day each week.
A new chapter for MNBotanical after Government funding boost
After initial success due mainly to word-of-mouth recommendations, Melissa expanded into Newcastle upon Tyne, taking advantage of funding from the Government’s Start-Up Loans scheme. Along with business support and advice, MNBotanical benefitted from a low-cost loan of £1,000, administered by one of SUL’s delivery partners in the North East and Cumbria, PNE Enterprise, which was used to improve its therapy space.
At a fixed interest rate of just 6.17% over up to five years, entrepreneurs over 18 years of age can borrow anything from £250 to £25,000 to develop their business idea before launching to market, start trading, or improve or expand a fledgling enterprise. Entrepreneurs will also benefit from business support and advice from a dedicated team of staff at PNE Enterprise and peers in the local business community. Each loan recipient will also be given access to an experienced business mentor to help guide them through their first steps in industry.
Big not always better in botanicals
Melissa started her career with larger companies before choosing to go it alone with support from PNE Enterprise. She said: “I worked for a few big companies but found it frustrating because much of the decision-making that affected me and the customers was taken at the top.
“I wanted to build and maintain more intimacy with my clients, and have more control over the products I use, so starting up on my own was the right thing to do, both for me and for them. Many people come to me when they are pregnant or suffering from a variety of conditions, so the relationship I have with them is key to them getting the best from the treatment.
“The aromatherapy blends I use are bespoke, created for each case and the consultation before treatment begins is the most crucial element.”
More than just a massage
Melissa has developed extensive knowledge in advanced aromatherapy and her work has been influenced by continental techniques, which traditionally use high concentrations of essential oils, neat. Her most innovative and unique treatment is Qi Drop Therapy, pronounced ‘key drop’, which involves a mixture of 13 different specially blended essential oils dripped down the spine. Melissa explained:
“In standard British aromatherapy treatments, you would usually use a maximum of 10 drops of oil, but in this treatment, I use over 100. It’s a great immune booster and people suffering from a huge range of complaints have seen improvement, including those with joint problems, chronic fatigue syndrome, HIV, ME, glandular fever, fibromyalgia, stress and hormone imbalances such as PMS.
“It’s a very balancing, relaxing, pleasant and powerful treatment, and pampers the whole body. It has been known to give great results following the end of radiotherapy and chemotherapy courses and because I’m interested in the clinical side of aromatherapy, I am also working part-time with the NHS as a volunteer therapist manager.
“It’s all about using completely natural products and repositioning aromatherapy as a health service, rather than the luxury beauty product it is often perceived to be.

“I am very grateful to PNE as I received quality assistance from them before, during and especially after my loan application, so I felt supported. They were also fantastic at providing more specialised support when I had issues in certain areas such as web design.”


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