Claudia O'Malley at her store, O'Malley & Potter "Feel Good" Products in Country Village
For years Claudia O’Malley was a "victim" of fibromyalgia, which began after she sustained a repeated-use injury at her workplace. The symptoms escalated to the point that she could barely walk and was in constant pain. Though doctors poked and prodded and medicated her, they were unable to determine what was wrong with her. Nor were they able to provide O’Malley with any real relief. They went as far as to suggest that perhaps her chronic pain had psychological roots.
"I was taking prescription medications for pain, inflammation, muscle spasms, migraine headaches, insomnia and depression," explains the Duvall woman. "Nothing worked and I was contemplating finding the tallest bridge in the state. I was beginning to think I was crazy." A sports medicine doctor finally diagnosed her with fibromyalgia. And then she found her way to a massage therapist who taught her about biofeedback, myofascial release and other massage and relaxation techniques that can aid with chronic pain control. Meanwhile, she kept hearing about aromatherapy. "Initially, I rolled my eyes when someone told me about it," says O’Malley. "But then I decided to learn more about it. I bought a book and what I read started to make sense to me. I found that true aromatherapy is really less about scent and more about therapy. This led me to experiment with making my own blends of essential oils, which I then added to a high quality lotion base. The first formula I created was for muscle relief. It consisted of basil, black pepper, lavender, spruce and marjoram. I topically applied the lotion to areas where I was experiencing pain. For the first time in years, my muscle spasms and other symptoms were relieved without conventional medication and I could use the lotions throughout the day as needed without any side effects. It was incredible! I was no longer a victim of my condition." O’Malley explains that essential oils are the pure essence of the plants from which they are derived. The oil is acquired through a process of steam distillation. Unlike mineral oils, which sit atop the skin’s surface, essential oils are comprised of tiny molecules. These molecules are lipid soluble and many of their chemical constituents are able to enter through the surface of the skin to the muscle tissue, providing opportunities for a variety of therapeutic and pain relieving benefits to occur. The Duvall woman delved more into the study of aromatherapy and took classes in the subject, while continuing her work with essential oils. She started with lesser quality oils and found that they were not as effective as those of a higher quality, which were devoted solely for the apothecary market. Soon, she was sharing her lotions with friends and family, which then progressed to sharing with people she’d never met. Everyone was truly amazed and delighted with the relief they received and requests began to pour in for other "relief" formulas." O’Malley proceeded to sell her products wholesale and eventually via the Internet, but three years ago, she decided to open O’Malley & Potter "Feel Good" Products in Bothell’s Country Village. "I decided I really wanted to be able to offer people a place to come and learn about my products," explains O’Malley. "Here they can learn how to take care of themselves and retain and maintain health and well being." She adds, "I’ve created a place where people can ask questions in a safe and unthreatening environment and if I don’t know the answers, I refer them to others or provide them with names of books they can get. I am not a doctor, nor do I have medical training. I simply strive to help people pursue healthy options for feeling better." O’Malley does not advertise her products as curative, but rather as aids in alleviating symptoms, which can lead to a better quality of life. She offers a host of formulas that are geared towards possible relief for a wide variety of concerns including symptoms of arthritis, rheumatism, fibromyalgia, injuries, insomnia, stress, respiratory problems, mental and physical fatigue, women’s issues, headaches, cuts, burns, bugs and more. All of her formulations are tested on real people with real symptoms for a minimum of nine months to one year before being added to her product line. And each lotion is hand mixed and bottled. The most requested products are those aimed at easing the symptoms of arthritis and fibromyalgia, followed by skin conditions such as eczema. In addition to her own products, O’Malley also stocks her shop with other types of "feel good" items including non-petroleum candles, healing music, loose teas, sea salts, dark (antioxidant rich) chocolates, special Turkish cotton and bamboo robes and dozens of massage therapy, aromatherapy and body therapy products. And everything in the store is natural. "There’s nothing synthetic here," says O’Malley. "And the smells you note when you enter are all from Mother Nature. People always comment on how incredible it smells in here and that’s the reason." Despite the challenging economy, O’Malley & Potter "Feel Good" Products is doing very well. O’Malley believes it’s because people view her products as justifiable purchases, as they are aimed at improving health. "It’s been busy since the day I opened," she adds. "People love coming here and I have many repeat customers. They try my products and when they get relief, they are thrilled and tell everyone they know. They come back with friends and then their friends tell friends. And the word just spreads. My staff and I work hard to provide excellent customer service that’s very personalized. We also encourage education here, not only through our products, but through the classes we offer in such areas as aromatherapy, Reiki and Feng Shui." At 64, O’Malley sees no reason to retire. She’s having too much fun. And she feels good knowing that she’s helping to make a difference in people’s lives."
O’Malley & Potter "Feel Good Products" is located in the Clocktower Building at Country Village in Bothell. For more information: 425-485-6260 or www.feelgoodproducts.com.