By Pamela Dozois

An advocate of healthy lifestyles and exercise, Cathi Russell opened up a little shop, SYV Essential Oils, on 1st Street in Solvang. In November, she celebrated her store’s first anniversary. Essential oils are compounds extracted from plants, often used in aromatherapy, a form of alternative medicine which helps to support health and well-being.

“I exercise every day and my main interest is in Yoga,” Russell said. “I have been doing Yoga for about 9 years now. At one of my Yoga classes my instructor, Lynette Kufeldt, introduced me to some essential oils she uses on her students. She placed a couple of drops on my palms before the class began and it had such a wonderful effect on me during the class. My day melted away and my brain was present in the now at Yoga, not thinking about anything else that was going on in my day. At the end of the session we do the Savasana (corpse pose) and she placed another drop on my forehead which helped to facilitate a meditative state. 

“I was so impressed by the results, I inquired about the brand called doTERRA. After researching the product extensively, I discovered there was a vast array of curative oils for almost every healthful requirement in life. Each oil is unique so finding natural solutions for a specific health concern is easy. I became a doTERRA essential oils advocate,” explained Russell. “doTERRA means ‘gift of the earth.’ 

“My husband has suffered from an epidural disorder for many years and after using doTERRA products, his skin issues have been eliminated,” she said. “He can now wear his short-sleeved shirts again.”

Russell and her husband Dave Salgado are a real estate team at Santa Ynez Valley Real Estate Company in Solvang. After having used the oils for a couple of years, she thought about opening a store in order to share the product with the community. Through her contacts in the real estate industry, Russell became aware of a building that was for lease and after looking at the space, and being impressed by it and the “incredible” lighting, she thought it would make a perfect office/classroom to teach people about the product. 

“I loved the location, but it was just too much to take on myself,” she said. “So I passed on the space, which was subsequently rented to a client of mine to open up an art studio. I asked about sharing the space and she jumped at the idea. 

“With her help we refurbished the large glass-face display cabinet in a vibrant purple color, displayed all the tiny bottles of oil inside it, and opened up the store a year ago his November,” said Russell. “We share the space, each running our own business while supporting each other in the process.” 

Russell recently returned from a convention in Salt Lake City where doTERRA presented the new products for the year as well as the science and education behind them. She continues to educate herself in doTERRA’s vast product line and is in the process of becoming a certified aromatherapist.

“I chose doTERRA because the company’s number one priority is purity,” she said. “Each oil batch is tested 54 times, not only by them, but by third party laboratories, before it goes into the bottle as a Certified Pure Therapeutic Grade oil. I am recommending this product to my family, friends, and customers, so I want only the best for them.

“The other reason I love this product line is because of its ‘co-impact sourcing’ which means the company sources their oils from over 30 countries, stressing sustainability, quality assurance in the growing, harvesting and distilling of the oil, and fair wages for the exclusive network of growers and harvesters of the plants,” explained Russell. “The company eliminated the middle-man concept and deals directly with the farmers who get paid in some cases immediately upon weighing the harvest.” 

“They’ve also formed the ‘Healing Hands Foundation’ which partners with humanitarian organizations ‘to extend the collective reach impact,’ Russell said. “The company also helps make fundraising and product donations efforts and ‘supports community development projects improving overall health and well-being,’ in the undeveloped communities where the farmers live.” 

The shop is open from 1 to 4 p.m. Wednesdays through Sundays or by appointment.

“I try to do 2 classes a month, each with different themes,” Russell said. “They all involve essential oil 101 as well as various topics such as respiratory support, immunity, sleep, and stress to mention a few.”

Russell and her husband have lived in the valley since 1992 having arrived here seven months pregnant with her first child. Russell has two grown daughters and a married stepdaughter with two girls of her own. 

Russell has been very active in the community. Over the years she has been very involved in her children’s schools, volunteering in the class and on the local schools’ PTA boards as well as a number of years as a 15th District PTA board member. She acquired her real estate license 10 years ago after her children went off to college. She is currently a director on the board of the Santa Ynez Association of Realtors and has spent three years on the Multiple Listing Committee. 

“It’s great fun and I love what I do. It allows me to meet many different people and to help them with natural solutions for their life’s needs. It’s very rewarding,” Russell said.

TAGLINE: SYV Essential Oils is at 444 1st Street, Solvang. For more information call (805) 245-0172, email or visit