Leigh Fernance and Paul Coop have owned Inner Path Natural Therapies for more than 20 years.
The business first started in the 1990s at premises in Dumaresq Street. When the Coop family purchased the Smith House building, they decided to move Inner Path Natural Therapies into the iconic premises. 2018 is a big year for Inner Path Natural Therapies, as they will be celebrating 20 years of operation at Smith House!
If you have not been lucky enough to visit the intriguing shop, it is crammed full of gifts and goodies such as crystals, essential oils and jewellery. There is more to Inner Path Natural Therapies than you may realise though. The qualified staff at Inner Path Natural Therapies, also help people with a wide variety of health conditions through acupuncture, herbal medicine and even hypnotherapy!
Leigh hasn’t always been involved in the natural therapy business. She first enjoyed a career in teaching. Funnily enough, when Leigh was attending the Armidale Teachers College in the late 1970s, she actually lived at Smith House. In fact, in one of the cupboards in the large building, Leigh wrote her name in indelible pen. Little did she know, she would one day be a co-owner of the premises!
In the mid-80s to the late 90s, Leigh was a teacher at Ben Venue Public School. In those days, Ben Venue was split over two sides of Rockvale Road. Leigh taught in both the infants and primary department. Even though Leigh loved teaching, she decided to make a change and retrain as an herbalist.
When Leigh isn’t helping people at Smith House, she enjoys gardening! She has plenty of room to indulge her passion on her 10 acre property. Leigh enjoys visiting local nurseries, such as Cedar Nursery and The Tree Group, in order to fill her large garden. Leigh’s Border collie ‘Lilly’ also relishes playing in the garden with her owner, as does her new granddaughter Ivy!
Leigh also enjoys regular chats with local radio icon, Pete Raymond about the weather. She keeps the rainfall records for Tilbuster and has done so for 25 years. Leigh and Pete also share a love for the Cronulla Sharks. In fact, Leigh proudly drives a car, complete with the Shark’s stripes, which were designed by AOK Signs. Interestingly, Steve McGrath, who is the owner of AOK Signs was Paul’s first friend in Armidale.
Inner Path Natural Therapies is truly a family owned and run local business. For example, Leigh’s husband, Paul, works as an acupuncturist and Chinese herbalist. Paul’s clients rave about his expertise in acupuncture, which has lots of benefits. These include helping eliminate blockages, to promote the flow of the body’s energy. Sadly, Paul is booked up for 6 months in advance, so he is virtually impossible to get into!
Perhaps Paul’s main claim to fame is as the great great grandson of George Allingham, who was the first mayor of Armidale. In fact, Paul’s family have lived in Armidale for more than 200 years- which I think qualifies them as locals!
One of Leigh and Paul’s sons, Brent, who has lived in China for the past 10 years, has just developed a very important and personal addition to the range at Inner Path Natural Therapies. You see, Brent who exports women’s shoes from China, has just organised an exclusive range of shoes for Inner Path Natural Therapies. These comfy shoes, have the Inner Path Natural Therapies logo stamped on the inner sole of the shoes.
Even Paul’s mum still works in the Smith House office, and she is in her 80s!
After growing up in warm Ballina, Leigh still finds the winters in Armidale hard to cope with. She does concede that winter is good for business though! You see, Inner Path Natural Therapies’s cold and flu remedies are extremely popular during these cold months. In fact, the Gan Mao Ling Cold and Flu tablet is the first thing many locals have, if they feel a cold or flu brewing.
Leigh and Paul also employ Emily and Deanna. They both have an excellent knowledge of the crystals and other products Inner Path Natural Therapies sells! Emily, who lives in Kentucky, works for the Tree Group when she is not working at Inner Path Natural Therapies. Deanna, who also works for Smith House, attended school in Armidale and continues to live in the scenic city.