Joanne’s Story


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I founded Shop Naturally in April 2009 with a carton of fabric softener and a bookshelf in the spare bedroom of my rental property. It was only ever meant to be a part time business. At the time, I was a professional web designer and Shop Naturally was a means to an end to get a few natural products I needed when they weren’t available in any local shops.

In a short space of time, my little shop on a bookshelf took on a life of its own and I bought my first home with the profits from the first 12 months and then moved it into a warehouse 12 months later.

Why natural products?

In 1994, at the age of 24, I was diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. At the time, the press enjoyed calling it the Yuppie Flu and most people thought it was all in my head. Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) is the name the doctors give you when they can't figure out what's wrong with you. I was sent home with 3 months off work, no real diagnosis or treatment other than 'to rest'.

It took 3 and a half years of deterioration, malnutrition, severe fatigue, joint and muscle pain, Multiple Chemical Sensitivities (MCS) and a doctor attached to the CFS Research Team at Newcastle University to give me a proper diagnosis. By this time, I was so weak that I was housebound, mostly bed bound and when I showered, I had to hang on to the walls to walk to the bathroom and sit on a plastic stool and let my mother wash my hair because I didn't have the strength or the stamina to lift my arms above my head.

My official diagnosis changed to suffering from a rare bacterial infection called Rickettsia. The treatment? Long and heavy courses of antibiotics for over 12 months and the promise that I was going to feel a lot worse before I got better. The promise delivered - it was terrible, and it left a legacy I manage daily.

The road to recovery was a long one, and done with the assistance of doctors and a team of natural health professionals including a naturopath, chiropractor and massage therapist. A part of this recovery was to reduce the load and strain on my body as much as possible. When you really stop and look at the chemicals you're exposed to every day, it's a little alarming. When your health is already compromised, it's frightening and dangerous.

I began the journey of researching and then changing every product in my home. From the kitchen to the laundry and the bathroom, any consumable product in the house was changed to something natural that I didn't react to. Toothpaste, soap, laundry liquid, fabric softener (our first product), moisturiser, dishwashing liquid, and the list goes on and on.

We're not just moving boxes of stuff here at Shop Naturally. This is how I live my life every day. When I reduce the chemical load on my body, I feel a lot better. I have more energy, my skin feels great and my overall health and wellbeing is changed for the better.


I have been featured in magazines, quoted in books and was featured on the Foxtel business show Industry Leaders in 2017. While I prefer to be out of the spotlight, I am always happy to be open and honest and transparent about my health journey if it can help someone else.

Note: the Industry Leaders episode uses my former married name, Joanne Musgrave.

Music Therapy

This is actually the last piece of the puzzle for my healing journey, and it has been woven into the store. Healing the body and the mind needs to be done together to be effective, and music therapy is good for the soul.

Physical and emotional stress is at an all time high for everyone. One of the best things I did for myself since COVID was to extract myself from some major stress in my life and go back to my roots as a musician. I made time to resume classical piano study (that's me playing on the Industry Leaders segment) and have been working with country singer Gina Jeffrey's music school and her son Jacky to learn music production for my musical project.

Newly launched in late 2022, an industry first, we have a Musical Instruments for Music Therapy category in store. I spent time sourcing and playing instruments until I found the best quality instruments that we can sell at amazing prices and imported them directly from the manufacturers.

We sell some very easy to learn instruments that can be played and enjoyed by anyone. They are commonly used in music therapy, meditation and yoga. 2023 will see a dedicated store and YouTube Channel open up where I will be teaching people how to play the Kalimbas and Tongue Drums and also sharing my own performances and songwriting from my own music studio and collaborations with other musicians to inspire our customers to embrace music in their lives to feed the soul and reduce stress.

5 random musical facts about me

ONE - my music room is my happy place

In my highschool year book I wrote "I want to master every musical instrument known to man". I'm making a small dent in it. My music room has a grand piano in it, various keyboard, a guitar, violin, a flute, a xaphoon, a ukulele, a few recorders (one in every size), one of every kalimba and tongue drum we sell (for zoom calls), a Harpejji, an Array Mbira, a desktop drum kit, an Otamatone, a pixie harp, a lyre harp (a full sized one is on my wish list), a couple of boxes of percussion instruments and a LOT of music boxes.

TWO - I still talk to my high school music teacher

I'm not the only one either. Mr Ian Patterson, best high school music teacher EVER, still keeps in touch with a lot of his former students on Facebook. He's part of my inspiration for the music therapy category in my store because he had this magical power of including everyone, even if they couldn't play. His former students have gone on to be music teachers, sound engineers, professional recording artists, music producers (Jacky's dad), win Aria Awards, Golden Guitars, Gold Logies and even take the lead role in the West End production of Hamilton.

THREE - my first piano was over 100 years old when I got it

I got my first piano when I was 5. It was around 100 years old, had ivory keys and brass candelabras. It was delivered on the back of a ute with someone sitting on a stool playing it up the main street of my home town. Had it not been 1975 and my dad being friends with the local police sergeant, I'm sure someone would have been arrested for it! I wish I still had it.

FOUR - I used to play piano for my class in kindergarten

Remember sing alongs in kindergarten at the age of 5? More than once I filled in for the teacher and played the music everyone sang along to. I felt invincible. Giving your kids a musical education is a gift that will last them a lifetime, even if they don't pursue it professionally.

FIVE - I am a music teacher

This is one of the most fun & rewarding jobs I have ever had. I spent several years in my 30's teaching piano to kids and adults when I wasn't well enough to do anything else. I do it for fun now for a couple of friends and I will be recording lessons for YouTube on the music therapy instruments in 2023. Watching people's faces light up when they achieve something feeds my soul, no matter what sounds actually come out when they do it. Sharing that kind of joy is precious.


Joanne Swadling

Shop Naturally Founder & Owner since 2009

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