I’m not sure at what age I became particularly invested in crystal based healing. New York City is full of the occasional new age store where I would divulge in the sparkly ethereal nature of cramped spaces lined wall to wall with oddities and reflective surfaces.
Being familiar with the practice of using crystals to add a stat boost to your daily everythings, I was super excited to meet Nia Thomas, the founder and creative director of Llio. Llio takes high quality essential oil mixtures and combines them with selected crystals to create a charged cocktail solution used to help you in your life.
The meeting place and time were all settled beforehand, which should have just left bringing your body as that last to-do item. Yet, time felt a bit hectic for no other reason than traveling on the trains post-covid increases your anxiety levels exponential to each breath taken on said train. I got to Grace Street, feeling that relief of arriving early enough to gather myself only to get a text saying “Fifi my dog is coming too.”
I went inside inquiring about the allowance of dogs. To my dismay, only service dogs were allowed. Panic? Yes.
But not for long. Once Nia arrived with a small white pup in her arms decorated with a cute pink bow we exchanged quick greetings before immediately switching track to another nearby cafe. Did this one allow dogs? We didn’t check. Spacious and cafeteria-esque we did the quick logistics.
“Here. You hold her.” And somehow I found myself sitting at a table at the far backend of the cafe with a puppy in my arms belonging to someone I just met for the first time. Why not?
While I expected just a quick passing of pleasantries it unexpectedly become a lovely sit-down chat. Here we were able to talk over Llio’s products, the influence of Nia’s mom on the company, the difference between what was popular in the UK versus the US, and even about dating in NYC after your twenty-somethings.
Llio is named after Nia’s mom, Llio Gwenllian Thomas, who was a beautician and practicing beauty therapist. She would mix essential oils and pamper guests, paving the way for a passion in beauty that would inspire the creation of the brand. Created in 2016, Llio was the child of the healing journey after Nia’s mother suddenly passed away. It echoes the ethos of self love that was always encouraged by her mother.
Nia excitedly showed me the Higher Self oil inside the box on the table before me, mentioning its many uses from direct placement on the skin to her favorite – copious amounts of droplets into a bath. Higher Self is the citrine based crystoil featuring some of my favorite essential oils:
Lemon – Cleansing and decongesting properties.
Bergamot – Boosts skin help and relieves stress and anxiety.
Sweet Orange – Perfect for skin absorption and full of anti-inflammatory benefits.
Black Spruce – Soothes sore muscles and calms.
Description taken from the official website
I held the box containing the Higher Self bath and body crystoil with a triquetra symbol on the front. The triquetra is an ancient Welsh Celtic symbol meaning “three-cornered”. It signifies the connection between life and the spirit as well as the many references to the power of three. In regards to femininity, one reference is to the power shared between the maiden, the mother and the crone. These are the stages of the feminine form that each hold their own power and wisdom and are necessary in a system of support and growth.
Llio’s creation also attributes to this. As Nia’s mother, Llio Thomas, was a beauty therapist, Nia herself had studied aromatherapy and attended many beauty and spiritual events around the world. And then there was us, sitting at a table talking over coffee about these beautifully crafted crystal infused oils and spiritual practice ethics.
I instinctively tried some on my wrist like a fragrance, which apparently is a very western preference for oil application while in the UK many people use the oils in baths.
It was interesting to hear what groups of people preferred which products. Those first trying Llio were drawn to the Higher Self and Love Yourself oils. In Florida, those were also popular picks leading me to believe these are the most approachable and recognizable crystal combos. A dedicated niche group loved Magic Centre, the obsidian based oil. In the UK, Llio’s sleep sprays were extremely popular, which also sends a nod to the cultural differences between the US and the UK.
In the US, most people are attracted to visually stimulating advertisements. Hence why social media works so well when we can see those oils shine on sunset skin or light reflecting off crystalline bottles. We don’t particularly advertise sleep sprays in the US as much, even though personally I am trying to incorporate them more in my life. I’ve noticed my turbulent sleep patterns improved upon spraying a light mist on my pillow and blankets before lighting a candle and going to bed.
I suppose it all depends on what you are looking for. Llio is about self care, in its kindest and gentlest embodiment. This self care can take on so many forms from targeting how you sleep, giving you that boost in happy vibes to go about your day, and even elevating your bath into a spiritually charged home spa experience. In fact, Llio has a great guide on using the oils with a bath since Nia herself is also a huge fan of luxurious baths and indulgent spas.
I’m not a huge bath person as I detest having the leave that warm womb like water for air at an even slightly less temperature. However, I’m not going to lie, I considered readjusting my opinion after taking in the oil’s fragrance while hearing Nia gush about using the oils in baths and how some clients love them as classy party favors.
Or maybe it’s just the realization that bathing in crystal charged oil sounds so nice that an inner part of me almost whimpered, aching for that spa day I’ve been promising myself but never delivered. That whimpering was definitely not from Fifi at least. I was amazed to find that Fifi was extremely well mannered the entire time. She only got up occasionally to greet our neighboring cafe resident for some friendly interaction.
While Nia and I chatted about the changes from the UK to the US, sipping coffee and switching Fifi from lap to lap, I couldn’t help but feel we were enacting the spirit of what Llio really stands for. Giving yourself the love that you seek. Here we were, strangers connecting and discussing about passions and sharing aspects of our lives with each other. With a puppy in our laps, coffee in our hands on a dreary chilly day, it really did feel like self-care. After parting ways, I sat for a little while longer in the cafe with the silent discovery that Llio really does educe love for one-self, in more ways than may seem obvious.