It’s a long way from Utah to Baulkham Hills, but that distance may not be the barrier it first seems. Baulkham Hills is now the home base of Young Living Essential Oils, a natural health company which moved its Australian headquarters from Brisbane just over a year ago. And according to managing director, Australasia, Kristen Tod, it was an inspired decision. In the year since the move the company has enjoyed the advantages of operating in Australia’s largest city, in a location that is a perfect fit for both its philosophy and modus operandi. For a “young” company, Young Living Essential Oils has managed extraordinary success. It was founded by D Gary Young 23 years ago in Utah after he had a bad accident and was confined to a wheelchair. He vainly searched for genuine alternative therapies, organic herbs and oils, and ultimately started his own company to fill the void. Young Living uses only its own or partner farms for its raw ingredients and controls production of its products, from its origin right through to packaging. They call this process, Seed to Seal®. This process, said Kristen, is what sets Young Living apart from all other oil companies. Now the company has offices in ten countries, and has plans to open in another three countries in the next 12 months. Its long term plans include operations in another 10 countries. The company will celebrate its 18th year in Australia in February. Kristen Tod explained that Young Living operates with a network marketing approach, with its members taking its products out to the broader community. It works. There are over 25,000 members in Australia, giving it the largest membership base of any network marketing company in Australia. “Yet most people have never heard of us!” said Kristen. “We have over a million members worldwide, and have 800 to 1,200 new members every month in Australia.” That may be due partly to the sharp rise in women starting their own small businesses for a lifestyle of working from home, with children and family responsibilities more effectively catered to. “The big movement around the world is the growth in the segment of 25- to 35-year-old women with children who are looking for a means of starting or building a business at home, and research shows the Hills has the largest number of businesses operated from homes in Sydney,” said Kristen. “And that suits us perfectly. We prefer to use all the money that would normally be spent on retailing, staff, advertising, distribution and so on to invest in our members and their training, and make sure they’re well remunerated for selling our products. “The platform the business is built on is word of mouth. Very few companies have double digit growth year on year, but we’ve enjoyed that since we first started in Australia.” “A worrying fact is that women in Australia retire with one-third to two-thirds less superannuation than men. We provide a way for the Baby Boomer generation of women to be more financially independent and self-reliant. This is something I am personally committed to and passionate about.”
##At home in the Hills The move to the Hills from Brisbane delivered both business and personal benefits. “It’s a hotbed of talent within a three-kilometre radius of us in Baulkham Hills! We moved to the heart of network marketing in Australia — the Hills district is the location of more than 20 Australian headquarters for international direct marketing companies. That means we’ve been able to attract experienced, knowledgeable staff who are taking us to the next level,” said Kristen. “We’ve hired 36 new staff members locally, and two staff from Brisbane came down with us.” “The Hills Shire Council, and Cr Michelle Byrne in particular, has been very supportive helping us to settle in here; the council have gone out of their way to make us welcome.”

A natural enthusiasm

Kristen Tod grew up in Canterbury, New Zealand, and found her enthusiasm for business at the feet of her entrepreneurial parents, who worked hard and retired at 50.
She started in business after reading a poster on a street lamp pole, and answered the call to sell skincare products. At first it supplemented her income, but she soon realised that she had “found my niche”. She has built a solid corporate career and now heads Young Living in Australasia.

Farming the natural way

Young Living works with 11 farms in 10 countries, including the USA, Ecuador, Canada, France, Taiwan, China, Oman and now Australia. It maintains strict guidelines on its products’ origins and their production, with its Seed to Seal® process.
“We have partner farms in Australia, at Kakadu Blue farm in Darwin for blue cypress. It’s grown in Darwin and the oil is distilled on the farm,” said Kristen. “We’ve just entered a partnership with TFS, with a very large forest based in Kununurra, where the company will grow Indian sandalwood in partnership with us, and it will be distilled in Albany. This is a massive partnership and will eventually inject millions of dollars into Australia’s economy. We’re very excited about this new partnership.”

Living in the Hills

Kristen has been a Hills resident for the last 18 years, and commuted to Brisbane for the first 12 months, but is delighted to be back in the Hills as a local again.
“I love the Hills. It has a strong sense of community. My husband Ron and I live in the Benarra Gardens apartment complex, and I know most of my neighbours and we help each other out in all sorts of ways,” she said.
“I’ve just bought some land here in the Crystal Waters estate and I intend to build in 2017. I’m very excited about it. My son Cameron has just given me my first grandson, Cian. Cameron and his wife Ciara own the Hills VIP Gardening and Landscaping business, so as a family we are really invested in the Hills community.”
When she gets away from the office, Kristen has a pastime that she has pursued with all the passion she shows while running the business.
“I design jewellery,” she said with a broad grin. “I got really serious about it a few years ago and won a design award for a special piece of jewellery. Now I buy precious stones and diamonds at auction or overseas and have them made in a workshop.
“My passions are working for Young Living, empowering women to have their own businesses, and for relaxation I sketch jewellery. I’ve taken it through to being a wholesale gem buyer and producing award winning designs. Two girls here in our building wear engagement rings I designed and made, which is very satisfying.” ❐