Why I Started My Own Aromatherapy Business: Cheryl Gan People of Interest

Her background was in IT and being a former civil servant, Cheryl Gan never imagined herself going into the beauty business. The owner of home spa brand Mt Sapola tells Go Away about her journey to discovering aromatherapy.

“Beauty was never a big part of my life, ” says 38-year-old Cheryl Gan, “My beauty regime was (and still is) very simple. However, when I was still in the civil service, I developed an interest in essential oils. I had just started to learn massage techniques and wanted to use essential oils that were as natural as possible. Back then, it was difficult to find such oils in Singapore. I recognised a gap in the market for natural home spa products and decided to bring the Mt Sapola brand to Singapore. Today, more than 50 percent of the products in our stores are created locally.”

go away_mt sapola speciality oils

Image Credit: Mt Sapola

Tell us more about your journey from the civil service to beauty entrepreneurship.

“I wanted to pick up new skills, which was why I started going for massage and facial treatment classes. It was during this time that I discovered there was a lack of natural essential oils in Singapore. I started doing my own research and enrolled in distance-learning courses on essential oils to find out more about aromatherapy.”

So, what role does aromatherapy plays in your life?

“It’s my whole life! Whether I’m in the office or at home, there will be essential oils burning in the background. In my house, each room has its own unique smell because we use different essential oils in the different rooms. Also, I always make sure I always have tea tree oil and lavender oil in my beauty pouch. The former is a great remedy for treating zits. I use the latter on my kids when they fall and cut themselves.”

Passion is one thing, but there are still days where nothing seems to go right or where we feel particularly overworked. On days like these, how do you regain your sense of wellbeing?

“Many people talk about work-life balance, but I once watched a speech by our former Minister Mentor Lee Kuan Yew where he said, ‘Work is life, life is work.’ And I agree. Even though I may be physically worn out, the passion never dies. When I’m feeling frazzled or stressed out, I just have to look at photos of my 8-month-old baby girl. She’s such a jovial, cheerful baby and simply thinking of her makes me feel relaxed. I also try to carve out some quiet time every morning to plan my To-Do list for the day and write out whatever ideas I may have for the business. When it comes to aromatherapy, jasmine oil is my go-to relaxant.”

go away_mt sapola porcelain

Image Credit: Mt Sapola

Scents can evoke many different memories and experiences for different people. Can you share what are some of the more popular scents from Mt Sapola’s range and why people buy them?

“Scents are a very personal choice, which is why it’s hard to sell essential oils online. Different brands offer different concentrations, and even the same plant may have different species (which create different scents) so the therapeutic effects you receive will be different.

Some of our bestselling scents include ginger lemongrass, which is good for improving skin conditions; eucalyptus rosemary, which is good for those who are prone to sinus allergies. We also have hardcore essential oil users who’ve discovered the benefits of aromatherapy that go beyond that “feel-good” sensations. These customers are the ones who willingly fork out $80 for 2ml of premium rose oil. They usually use these top-quality oils to blend their own skincare products.”

What kind of oils do you recommend for the home?

“As a rule of thumb, you’ll want something relaxing for the bedroom and something bright and lively for the living room. For the kitchen, you’ll want a clean scent to neutralise any odours from heavy cooking. For the bathroom, something fresh like pine always works.”

For Mt Sapola store listings, click here

[This contest has ended]

material world_mt sapola

What better way to unwind and escape the stresses of daily living than with a luxurious scented candle? We are giving away three B&P Beeswax Candles (worth $75.90 each)! To win, simply follow the steps below:

1. LIKE Go Away’s Facebook Page as this contest is only open to our fans and readers.

2. ANSWER this question in the Comments section below: “Which is your favourite essential oil and why?”

3. SHARE this post on your Facebook Wall. Make sure this post is set to PUBLIC so we can verify your entry. If we can’t see your post, we won’t put your name in the draw.

Once you’ve done all 3 steps, EMAIL us your details (Name, Age, NRIC, Mobile No.) to Closing date for this contest is 2 June 2015. The winner will be announced on our Facebook Page at 6pm on 2 June so be sure you are following our updates!

For as long as she can remember, Vanessa has always wanted to escape to a place where no one knows her. But because that’s not always possible, she often retreats into the world of books and pop culture. When she does get to travel, she prefers going off the beaten track and back to nature. Some of her best memories include napping in a treehouse in Laos and cycling across padi fields in Bali.


  1. Pamela Ong Says: May 25, 2015 at 9:25 am

    My favourite is Lemongrass for its calming effect. It helps to chase mosquitoes away too!

  2. My favourite oil is Frankincense. It is great for fighting wrinkles and the signs and aging; plus it has an emotional grounding effect, help you to release past notions/beliefs that no longer serve you.

  3. Yuk-lin Ong Says: May 25, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    My favourite oil is rose. Was never into pink, girly stuff but good rose essential oil smells divine. I acknowledge the feminine in me when I have good rose essential oil to sniff or apply.

  4. Fionn Tyx Says: May 25, 2015 at 3:53 pm

    I love sandalwood! It helps me get through my stressful periods & anxiety attacks as it induces calmness. I’m so addicted to the woody scent & my personal preference is to pair with rose (:

  5. Jiawen Tan Says: May 26, 2015 at 4:16 am

    I love lavender! It helps to calm my nerve and give me a good night sleep.

  6. June Lee Says: May 26, 2015 at 6:25 am

    I like Lemongrass essential oil for the refreshing scent and i like to spray some around the corners of my house, windows, doors as i heard it can keep insects like spiders, cockroaches away too.

  7. Kelly Loh Says: May 26, 2015 at 6:57 am

    Lemongrass! It has a refreshing scent that calms the mind and helps to reduce my flu symptoms too. =D

  8. angel lim Says: May 26, 2015 at 7:45 am

    sandalwood as it’s a natural sleep remedy. good for a good night sleep, having a deep relaxation effect. aroma therapeutic after a stressful day at work.

  9. Sandra New Says: May 27, 2015 at 2:42 am

    My favourite essential oil is Lemongrass because of its sweet and lemon-smelling.
    It can be used as a sedative, antidepressant, antimicrobial, fever-reducer, antiseptic, deodorant and astringent.

  10. Ann Low Says: May 27, 2015 at 2:51 am

    My Fav essential oil is lemongrass and lavender. As I have migraine quite frequently, these 2 smells can help me destress, makes me feel more relax and calm my mind.

  11. Sophia Ang Says: May 27, 2015 at 3:10 pm

    I love lavender essential oil. I keep a bottle of it in my bag. Whenever I am stressed at work or have a headache, I’d add a few drops to my hands, rub them and inhale deeply to relax.

  12. Amy Lin Says: May 27, 2015 at 3:12 pm

    My favourite essential oil has got to be lemongrass because it relaxes me and always reminds me of idyllic resort holidays!

  13. Esther L. Chng Says: May 28, 2015 at 3:58 am

    Lemongrass .. Very nice scent .. I love the drink as well ….. Makes me feel calm

  14. My fav scent is lemongrass …. It perks me up …..

  15. jaime chan Says: May 28, 2015 at 8:11 am

    lavender for its calming effect especially as i unwind the day

  16. Bebe Lee Says: May 28, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    My favourite is Lavender cos it smells so good and is able to calm my mind.

  17. Grace Lee Says: May 29, 2015 at 2:22 am

    Geranium as it helps to relieve stress and tension and is able to slow town the skin ageing process.

  18. Chay Hwai Says: May 29, 2015 at 5:11 am

    Lemongrass can help to relieve the lethargic mind and fatigue which is really good for the always tired me.

  19. Casy Ang Says: May 29, 2015 at 2:29 pm

    My favourite essential oil is Lemongrass and because I love Lemongrass scent and the scents is quite refreshing too. Its clean and calming aroma helps relieve stress, anxiety, irritability, and insomnia, and prevent drowsiness. It’s also supports the circulatory system and known for its ability to repel insects. With those benefits, it’s can help me in improving my health condition and stress-free.

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    FB: Casy Ang

  20. Ashley Tan Says: May 29, 2015 at 4:59 pm

    My favourite is lavender oil because it has multiple uses! I can use it to destress and calm myself. It also act as my first aid kit whenever my little ones hurt themselves.

  21. Koh Hock Guan Says: June 1, 2015 at 1:43 pm

    My favourite essential oil is “Lavender” as it is very soothing and has powerful calming properties to my mind. Lavender works really well to help me fall asleep at night as it helps calm anxiety and soothe emotions hence is a must have in my house!

  22. Joanne Ho Says: June 2, 2015 at 5:14 am

    Lavender. A great versatile oil that I can use on both us adults and my boy. A great oil for calming and relaxation, as well as for emergency like cuts and bruises.

  23. Hi Cheryl I’m interested in essential oil as well and hope to start with a small business in this sector start from zero.
    Can u introduce some liable courses and give me some advice How to start it.

    Thank you.

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