Michelle Cubin sends messages in a bottle across the world from her small shop in Fernie.
The message is of the benefits of oils and the natural ways one can heal a body.
The shelves of Healing Hollow are stocked with tiny phials, brimming with oils that Cubin hand mixes on-site every day. Best sellers include aids for insomnia and snoring, treatments for eczema and skin issues, boosting immune systems, and soothing childhood teething and bedwetting problems.
What first began as an experimental hobby in her twenties, while working as a rehabilitation pilates instructor, soon morphed into something much bigger.
“I originally started it just for fun,” said owner Cubin, adding, “and then people asked for the blends I made for myself so I started blending a bit more; with each blend it kind of got busier and busier.”
Prior to making her hollow in Fernie and turning residents on to natural ways of healing ailments, Cubin previously tried to run a store in Kimberley.
“I chose to close it down because it wasn’t busy enough,” said Cubin, admitting that the problem wasn’t just traffic issues, but a limited business mindset.
“I think when I had that store, I didn’t focus enough. I didn’t think I could just build a business on oils. I never thought it would take off,” confessed Cubin.
That hasn’t been the case in Fernie, where tourists and locals alike have embraced her oil business since 2013, forcing Cubin to blend more oils in bigger batches than ever before.
“The locals are really supportive and word just keeps getting around,” said Cubin.
Word has spread globally, as Cubin ships her oils to retailers across the United States, Australia and Hong Kong.
In town, Cubin says that a lot of her customers are people completely new to the essential oils world, giving her the opportunity to educate them about the business.
“I get a lot of new moms in here and it just seems like a whole new generation who don’t seem to want to turn to [traditional medicine]. I definitely think medicine has its place, but if you can try a more natural path first and the body can be more balanced, then you’re not masking the pain all the time you’re treating it,” said Cubin.
And she knows a bit about pain herself, having experienced trauma, car accidents, surgery and family members passing away within a short period of time. She never found the traditional medicine she was prescribed actually solved the problem, until one day she tried her first blend.
“It was just by fluke one day that I tried a headache blend and didn’t think it would work, but it did,” said Cubin.
Since then, Cubin has been blending, bottling, labeling and creating her own recipes for Healing Hollow using organic or wildcrafted oils in over 35 remedy blends.
“In the oil world, if you’re getting your essential oils from where they’re actually from it’s so much more beneficial,” noted Cubin who sources tea tree from Australia and lavender from France as examples of wildcrafted oils.
In her earliest days, Cubin took a few blending courses and extensive reading and research on the subject of oils. But doing it by the book never suited her completely.
Cubin’s labels are made in-house because her intuition often leads her to adding more of something or tweaking a recipe as a way of keeping up with the seasons. And in a world where uniformity is the norm, Cubin’s handmade approach has intimidated a fortunately small minority.
“Sometimes people will ask why a certain blend is more blue and it’s just because I had a very strong, very blue batch of blue chamomile. Change is good sometimes,” assures Cubin, “I think your body gets used to things, so if you change it up a bit, it works better.”
But with every season getting busier and busier, Cubin knows how lucky she is.
“I never dreamt that I would be doing this,” she admits, “I’m a healer … I’ve always wanted to help and fix people, to a fault sometimes. But this way I can help on such a bigger level, but also behind the scenes. I’m helping just with this little bottle.”
Every day Cubin receives e-mails from all around the world, explaining to her how her little messages in a bottle have helped them with their aches and pains.
“I never would have thought to buy an oil from a company and actually tell that person how much they’ve helped,” admits a grateful Cubin. “They feel it from a little bottle and it blows me away.”
The message has never been clearer: Cubin’s hollow is a healing phenom.