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Venturoma offers blend of therapeutic oil products

By Roger Harris*

VenturaCountyStar - Inside VC - July 2, 2001

Blending the ancient and the modern, Ventura entrepreneur Peggy Halevi wants to help you feel better. The former computer scientist is the owner of Venturoma.com, a Web-based business that sells custom-blended massage oil, skin cream and skin lotion made with the "essential oils" from dozens of plants and herbs.

"I love the aromas of certain essential oils," said Halevi. Log on to www.venturoma.com, and you will see her passion in action. Venturoma.com offers visitors a potpourri of ingredients for what ails them, be it headaches, painful joints, the sniffles, itchy skin or virtually any everyday complaint

Halevi launched the site a little more than a year ago when casting about for a family business she could run from home. She hit upon the idea of using the Web to offer customized blends of therapeutic oils.

"I didn't want to be an aroma therapist, but I thought I could put together the blends of oils that people think are best for them," Halevi said.  Basing her business on the Web allowed her to work from home and provided a measure of privacy for potential customers.  "Some people might be sensitive about their symptoms and don't want to go to an aroma therapist who might ask a lot of questions," Halevi said.

Being online also was an easy way to provide customers with a searchable database of symptoms and oils, said Halevi, who previously did computer work for he U.S. Navy and the space program.  "The Web seemed like the perfect vehicle," Halevi said. "If you know what you want you can pick the ingredients or if you don't remember that lavender is good for headaches you can search the symptom categories."

Some customers might prefer to see a list of recommended blends for a particular ailment, but Halevi deliberately designed the site to let people choose their own ingredients.  Using the Venturoma.com site is easy. Simply check the box next to the ingredients you want and pick the emollient -- oil, cream or lotion.  The site also offers pull-down menus of symptoms and oils for those who just want to do a little exploring.

Did you know, for example, that if you suffer from mental fatigue, a little cinnamon leaf, coriander, juniper, basil, rosemary or a handful of other botanical oils might be just what you need. If sweaty feet are making the athlete in your family miserable, a lotion with a pinch of cypress, lemongrass and citronella could dry those toes.  So far business has been steady, if not blazing.

Halevi estimates that about one of every 12 visitors to the site makes a purchase. She wouldn't mind having more customers, but the modest pace allows her to blend the oils, package an order and get it in the mail quickly. She includes a personalized label with your name or whatever you want it to say.  Most customers order relatively small amounts, but one lady in Maine is interested in buying a bulk supply of a peppermint blend.

"Apparently, in the right blend, peppermint is a mosquito repellant," Halevi said.  However, small orders are just fine with Halevi. She likes it when customers test a blend to see it works before ordering a larger amount.  Most of her customers are in the United States, but she has shipped orders to England, Germany, Romania and some other countries.  Word of the site is spreading and the number of repeat customers is growing, Halevi said.  "It's an idea whose time is ripening," she said.

* Roger Harris is the editor of Fast Forward. He does his blending at harris@insidevc.com