I’ve been sent to the home of Davina Griffiths, the woman behind Essentially Davina, to find out what makes her tick.
Located in a picturesque Surrey village and down a quiet country lane, Davina’s home could not be in a more idyllic position.
Like Davina herself, the house is light, warm and welcoming. She is blonde, attractive, self deprecating and charming and immediately ushers me into the kitchen for tea and healthy cinnamon buns made by her own fair hand that morning.
Family pictures adorn the walls, the new puppy bounds excitedly around my feet and her signature candles burn in almost every room. I’m immediately enveloped with delicious scents and a sense of calm. I wonder if I might be allowed to move in and let her take care of me.
First impressions make it seem as if she has everything one could want but as I settle down to listen to her story I realise she has endured much that has led her to be the person she is today.
Davina was born not many miles from where she lives with her family today. The youngest of eight, her favourite childhood memories are those of her Portuguese mother, wooden spoon in hand cooking something for her large brood. Always something delicious made from fresh, natural ingredients and always from scratch. Like her mother before her, Davina wanted that same sense of familial warmth when she grew up. Children running around, a pot on the AGA and the love and chaos that goes with family life.
Training after school in beauty therapy and business studies she worked in that field until she married her childhood sweetheart at the tender age of twenty one and they embarked upon creating their very own family. Life was panning out in just the way she had dreamt as a child it would.
Her first child was very small when, wanting to help others not as fortunate, Davina started fostering to give back to the community and so that she could be at home with her baby. She loved soothing the babies with essential oils and rubs and soon she and her husband decided to add to their family. Although they now have three wonderful children, Davina tragically endured many miscarriages between their healthy births. Just as they were counting their blessings, the day before the youngest’s second birthday, Davina was diagnosed with a rare form of cancer. She had experienced strange symptoms since the birth of her first child but these had been put down to pregnancy and the normal stresses of raising a young family. They now think the pregnancies had triggered something latent since childhood.
For many months prior to her diagnosis she had been almost bedridden and lay there, day after day feeling horrendous and then a voice inside her said “ ENOUGH “!!. Determined to find out what was wrong and to get better, she spent months propped up in bed on her laptop researching everything and anything she could about how to get healthy again and the impact what we eat and do has upon our bodies and minds.
Her doctors could not give her a prognosis and she had no idea if her children would be motherless after her surgery. But Davina, as is true to her nature, put her own immediate needs on hold.
She prepared wooden memory boxes for each of her children, engraved with words of love and encouragement for their futures, futures she did not know if she would be part of. Wrote them cards and letters, put away photos, divided up keepsakes, and put special candles in. Davina was advised to help her through the grief of her miscarriages to light a candle for each of her lost babies, to honour their memories and their essence. This had been an enormous comfort to her and she wanted to ensure, through her actions that her three children would have her warmth and love with them always.
The surgery was successful, the medication she needed to take for months afterwards however had a terrible effect on her. More medication was given to counteract the side effects and these just compounded the problems she was having, unable to eat properly she lost over four stone but remained ill and and bloated.
Davina then began a health regimen that included only organic produce, cut out all dairy and started with only clean juicing and whole unprocessed foods in order to cleanse her system of the drugs and to help her body to heal. She switched to non chemical cleaning products to ensure that her environment was toxin free and started to use again the essential oils she’d used on her babies to help her unwind and relax at night. She knew she needed to start to care for herself as she had always cared for others, to get healthy and strong again, to live.
Slowly but surely she began to recover physically but still needed to heal herself. Davina realised that she must try to come to terms with the loss of the life she had had before the cancer diagnosis and surgery had changed her both physically and mentally.
She remembered how the ritual of lighting candles, their glow and smell had helped her through her many miscarriages, so she started to make candles to honour the woman she had been before and to help her to embrace the woman she now was.
Once her youngest child had started school full time she wanted to set up a business encompassing all that she had discovered on her road to recovery, but still keeping true to herself and her values. She wanted a product that was ethical and chemical free, a small treat at the end of the day to make us feel good or a gift of thanks for a loved one or friend, to have these engraved with our own personal messages.
Now almost at the “five year free “ milestone Davina is able to put more energy into developing the products she loves in her own home and her enthusiasm for them is infectious. Creating them makes her feel good and they certainly smell divine and look beautiful too.
When I look at a candle with the wooden lid engraved with congratulations for some newlyweds, I’m reminded of the memory boxes she made for her children not so many years ago and how far she has come. The name is inspired by her journey, all of the products whether they be a vegan candle infused with Lavender and Neroli or a Sweet Orange and Geranium diffuser have the essence of this journey in their conception. They are after all, Essentially Davina.
“ Essentially Davina is the brainchild of Davina Griffiths , who , on the road to recovery from Cancer learned how to heal her body and her spirit . The products are the culmination of all that she learned about herself and how our own health and environment impacts upon our wellbeing.
The name is inspired by her journey ; all of the products whether they be a vegan candle infused with Lavender and Neroli or a Sweet Orange and Geranium diffuser have the essence of this journey in their conception , they are after all , Essentially Davina. “